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Sanchez Named Pac-10 Player of the Week

Because of his spectacular performance on Saturday Mark Sanchez was named Pac-10 player of the week.

Sanchez, a junior from Mission Viejo, Calif., showed he is more than ready to take over the reins as USC starting quarterback in the Trojans' 52-7 win at Virginia. Sanchez completed 26 of 35 passes (.743) for a career-high 388 yards and three touchdowns covering 10, 20 and 49 yards. Included was a string of 12 straight completions at one point in the game. The Trojans posted 558 yards in total offense--218 rushing and 340 passing.

He also picked up two other awards, National Player of the week award from Rivals and O'Brien National Quarterback of the Week.

He has come a long way...

When Sanchez took the helm as USC’s starting QB last Saturday against UVA it was the culmination of a lot of waiting and of high expectations. Like his predecessors before him there were a ton of expectations being placed on his shoulders from the moment he arrived at SC. Both Matt Leinart and John David Booty faced the same level of scrutiny but neither had the benefit of starting any games prior to their official placement as the starting QB. Their only "experience" was in garbage time.

But Booty and Leinart had the benefit of a pretty experienced offensive line, something that it appeared that Sanchez didn’t have as the 2008 season got underway. Saturday we saw that the O line did pretty good job, albeit against a lesser opponent. The three games that Sanchez did start in place of the injured John David Booty in 2007 were invaluable as he led SC into another season with high expectations. With the great win against UVA he has firmly cemented his position as one of the leaders of this team.

Sanchez, a fourth-year junior, might be more seasoned than his predecessors were to take over as starter. And he is hoping that gives him a head start on furthering their legacy.

[...]Sanchez, 21, is a veteran by comparison. He started three midseason games in place of Booty last year, pulling out a victory over Arizona, picking apart Notre Dame and nearly engineering a comeback victory at Oregon.

The audition eliminates much of the uncertainty that accompanied the transitions from Palmer to Leinart and from Leinart to Booty.

We know he can lead and we know he can win. We also know that he can make mistakes like he did late in the game against Oregon last season. Missing 2 1/2 weeks due to a freak injury added to the level of concern of just how efficient the offense would be when they opened up the season against UVA.

But for Sanchez this journey started long before he arrived at SC.

Mark Sanchez couldn't have known then how much his father's teachings would help him now. Kids never know.

Think of Daniel Larusso and Mr. Miyagi in "The Karate Kid." Only after he had endured the trials of apprenticeship did Daniel realize that "wax on" and "wax off" weren't menial tasks, they were training maneuvers.

Every day before they left for school or he dropped them off somewhere, Nick Sanchez would tell his sons: "Be a leader today." And Saturday, the youngest son, Mark, is the starting quarterback for USC, about to guide the Trojans into their season opener at Virginia.

This is Sanchez's team. He now gets to put his stamp on where this team goes this season. His time is now and he needs to make the most of it and put all the doubts and questions to rest.

I remember when Mitch Mustain transferred from Arkansas. The questions were all about how Sanchez would do with the added pressure and how he would respond with a pretty experienced QB coming in to fight for the starting job. Those concerns and questions have now been answered and he has shown us exactly what he is made of without having to look over his shoulder.

There are no givens in life and Sanchez has had to deal with share of controversy but that is in the past. Sanchez can only worry about his side of the ball the defense has shown that it can take care of itself, an efficeint, solid win this past Saturday has gone a long way to further building his confidence and relax the nerves of the fans who saw a lot of questions heading into the season.