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USC Football News and Notes 10/14

Mustain now #2

One interesting development this week was that Mitch Mustain moving into the #2 spot on the QB depth chart...

Mustain, now the Trojans' No. 2 quarterback behind Matt Barkley, said Tuesday that his recent stint working as a punter helped him focus and perform better at his primary position. "Actually having something to do that was at least halfway constructive helped a lot," he said.

Mustain is clearly buoyed by his elevated status, which was evident last week when he took most of the second-team snaps during the Trojans' off week.

The junior, who started eight games for Arkansas in 2006, said it was a "huge boost" in morale to be No. 2 instead of No. 3.

Competition is apparently still king on Howard Jones Field. It doesn't really matter to me as long as whomever is on the field gives us the best chance to win. Aaron Corp really didn't show us all the things we heard about during camp. And even if Pete Carroll does have a man crush on Barkley it is clear that Barkley has shown that he is the guy.

Aaron Corp on the other hand can move back up if he can get his head on straight ...

Today, Corp is USC's third-string quarterback, left with no other option but to try to battle his way back up the depth chart.

"I was told we're still competing," Corp said Tuesday. "That's the way I'm looking at it."

Unfortunately for Corp, the third-string quarterback gets precious few practice reps during game weeks, and USC is waist-deep in preparation for Saturday's game at Notre Dame. So for the second consecutive day, Corp had to watch while Matt Barkley took the first-team reps and surging Mitch Mustain the second.

When he learned about his demotion Monday, Corp (Orange Lutheran High) said he "didn't really say anything. I'm not going to say what I thought. It is what it is."

Corp acknowledged he wasn't happy about it and lamented a blown opportunity at Washington, where he struggled in relief of an injured Barkley in a USC defeat.

"I was given a shot," Corp said, "and I didn't perform well."


The opportunity slipped right through his grasp. There really isn't anything else that can be said...

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Matt Barkley looks to write another chapter in his scrapbook...

Matt Barley continues to ready himself for another tough road game in South Bend.

When sixth-ranked USC plays No. 25 Notre Dame at Notre Dame Stadium, Barkley has a chance to make his mark in the sport's most intense intersectional rivalry.

Pat Haden and Carson Palmer are among the Trojans quarterbacks who struggled in defeat in starts at a stadium built in 1930. Paul McDonald, Matt Leinart and Mark Sanchez are among those who flourished in victory.

Barkley was typically poised when asked if he was looking forward to playing at Notre Dame.

"I'm stoked," he said Tuesday before quickly adding, "But I'll say this a million times: It's no different than any other game.

"I'll probably look back after I finish here realizing what a great tradition this is between these two schools. But to me, I'm not doing anything out of the norm to prepare for this."

According to Haden, who played on two national championship teams and now works as a broadcaster on Notre Dame telecasts, Barkley's preparation before arriving at USC will help him block out the pressure that quarterbacks of earlier generations felt playing at Notre Dame Stadium.

We really already know this...

Barkley has proven himself under pressure in two other tough stadiums...The 'Shoe and Memorial at Cal. Notre Dame is just another game in Barkley's head. I am sure he knows about the tradition and history but he can handle The 'Shoe then I see no reason why he can't handle South Bend. It won't be easy but I really can't think of another young QB that I would rather have in this position.

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Stafon comes home...

I am sure you all saw this today but Stafon Johnson held a presser today when he left the hospital.

I am just glad that he is OK and progressing ahead of schedule!

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USC's Linebackers look to make their own legacy

We have read a few similar stories like this already this season...

Poor ole USC. Five games into the season, its no-name defense -- other than fancypants safety Taylor Mays -- only ranks fourth in the nation in scoring (8.6 points per game), sixth in total defense (238.6 yards per game) and fifth in run defense (64.8 yards per game). It has surrendered no -- zero -- touchdown passes. It's the only team in the nation with a clean sheet.

Seems like these no-names aren't half-bad, particularly the linebackers.

"You can't say enough good things about their defense," Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis said. "And they're losing all those -- everyone's, 'Oh, they're losing all these guys to the NFL from last year!' and it doesn't seem like they've missed a beat."

Weis has reason for concern as he prepares for a visit from the sixth-ranked Trojans on Saturday. Sure, his offense averages 33 points a game and ranks 10th in the nation with 470 yards per contest, but the Fighting Irish have scored three points against USC in their past two meetings and haven't faced a defense that even approaches the Trojans' depth and talent level.

You bet he is scared...

This defense is actually ahead of where they were last season...

Blue-Gray Sky has some of the most honest commentary I have read on the game.

Even though they will show up in South Bend led by a true freshman at quarterback, he already has a 4th quarter comeback win on the road at night over Ohio State to his name. And despite losing nearly their entire defense to the NFL, this year's squad is actually ahead of the dominating pace set by last year's crew. Sure, they hit a pothole against Washington, a team that ND just beat, but the transitive property has little value in college football and shouldn't be much solace for Notre Dame fans.

More than SC's strong stats and deep depth chart is the unavoidable fact that the past few years worth of matchups have been a horror show of Irish ineptitude. The players and staff just don't know what it is like to experience success against Southern Cal. I can think of no better way to sum it up than with this unfortunately 100% true statement:

70% of the scholarship players on Notre Dame's roster were not a part of the program the last time Notre Dame scored a touchdown against Southern Cal.
Re-read that statement a few times and you might find yourself looking to make other plans for Saturday.

And yet....despite the odds favoring the Trojans and the unpleasant thoughts of what another loss means for Charlie and the future of ND football, I found myself today looking up last minute airfare to Chicago. Maybe it's because today is 100 years to the day that my grandfather was born, the man that decided to head to college, picked a small school in northern Indiana, and was in the Stadium the first time the Trojans came to visit in 1931. Or maybe I just want another chance to tailgate and catch up with friends. But I think the main reason is that I'm getting the feeling that I don't want to be anywhere other than Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday.

Now that is a fan! My hats off to him...

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More ND News!

Here are a few other links on this weekend's game...

All Pac-10 USC-ND Preview

Southern Cal-Notre Dame Preview |

Clausen, Notre Dame will keep pace with USC - Coppock on Sports

Weis confident in his Fighting Irish

USC maintains Carroll's plan - South Bend Tribune
There's achieving success. And there's maintaining success.

USC-Notre Dame rivalry should be back to old form - LA Daily News