With the Tim Floyd situation resolved its time to get back to football.
It looks like Aaron Corp is in the lead to be the starter. His strong arm and mobility give him an edge over Mitch Mustain and freshman Matt Barkley.
All three contenders are good athletes, but Corp's ability to scramble for big gains sets him apart. He ran for first downs three times during 11-on-11 drills Thursday, lifting the offense and frustrating the defense.
"It adds an entire, new dynamic to a football game," linebacker Chris Galippo said. "It can be third-and-15, and we're thinking, 'Hey, they're going deep.' Everybody's dropping, there's all this space, and all of a sudden it's Aaron Corp going for 20 yards.
"Teams can do that passing, but it's degrading (when a quarterback scrambles). It's hard to get a team in third-and-long, and then have a quarterback run for a first and step out of bounds? It's like, come on, man."
Given USC coach Pete Carroll's disdain for turnovers, Corp's inclination to run when receivers are covered could be a deciding factor in the quarterback race. Carroll said Corp entered spring practice "a little bit ahead" of Mitch Mustain and Matt Barkley and thus far is "holding on to that."
Now this isn't like having a Michael Vick or a Vince Young but having a QB like Corp being able to scramble for chunks of yards is a dynamic ability that SC has not had in a long time and it goes a long way to giving opposing defenses fits if they have to worry a mobile QB.
Corp has, for the most part, also kept his turnover ration to a minimum. That is important to the coaches as it shows a QB's decision making process. Of course thats not the end all be all, John David Booty went through a number weeks between spring ball and training camp without an INT but that didn't stop him from throwing a bunch of picks against Stanford (yes he had a broken finger). I actually think an INT here or there in camp is a learning experience...you can't perfect all the time.
As Chris Gallipo notes on Thursday Corp got the better of the defense.
Linebacker Chris Galippo shook his head after practice, describing how deflating Corp's runs could be. It is something the defense did not have to deal with when facing John David Booty or Mark Sanchez.
"They're plays that John David or Mark might have gotten sacked on," Galippo said. "Aaron's side-stepping, taking off and running for first downs."
And Pete Carroll's thought's...
Carroll, however, cautioned that, "I don't want to make it that Aaron's going to be this big runner. We're not expecting that."
The 6-foot-4, 205-pound Corp describes his running as "kind of a last-resort thing."
But it's clear that after staying mostly in the pocket during his first two seasons, he is eager to sometimes sprint free of it.
Its just another arrow in the sling.
Of course, no good deed goes unpunished as the defense got their revenge on Friday.
Junior end Everson Griffen led the charge as the defense recorded sack after sack after sack during the full-team scrimmage portion of the workout.
"We just ate up the O-line," Griffen said. "Yum-yum."
The defense, which is replacing multiple starters, finally got a taste of success a day after Corp shredded the unit with long scrambles and Mustain and Barkley made several highlight-reel throws.
After Thursday's workout, Coach Pete Carroll had tabbed Corp as the early leader in the race to replace Mark Sanchez.
Corp, however, broke free only once Friday.
"I can't get complacent," he said. "I don't think I did particularly well."
On the plus side, none of the quarterbacks had a pass intercepted.
Hard to have a pass intercepted when you are running for life. But again it shows that if Corp is pressured he will either try to run the ball or throw it away not try to be the hero. We have a long way to go but I am liking what I am reading so far.
Speaking of Everson Griffen could it be that he is finally turning the corner? He didn't start spring Ball off on the right note by missing the first day due to a missed work out session. But it looks like D-Line coach Jethro Franklin might be getting through to Griffen.
The Trojans’ rebuilt defense produced nine sacks in 25 plays during the blitzing portion of the afternoon workout.
A determined, energetic Everson Griffen led the way with two sacks, displaying the type of non-stop effort the coaching staff has been seeking from the junior defensive end.
USC coach Pete Carroll credited the influence of new defensive line coach Jethro Franklin, plus Griffen’s own realization that he needs to produce after losing his starting job last season.
“He wasn’t happy about it at all. We were pretty frank in making sure he understood why Clay (Matthews) played so much last year,” Carroll said. “Obviously Clay was a really good player, but Everson opened the door for him.
“He’s very determined to grow up and play like a big-time player. He’s been very effective. It’s real encouraging. But we’re just getting started. It’s about establishing habits that last a long time.”
Griffen has some unbelievable God given talent. He has made some unreal plays in the past but its what between his ears that has so many of us shaking our heads. He is a beast and a physical specimen, he just need to get his head straight.
SC's next practice on Sunday.