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Inside College Football | USC REPORT

Booty's Day Could Be Near

October 09, 2003|Gary Klein | Times Staff Writer

Quarterback Matt Leinart's mostly solid play through USC's first five games forced USC coaches to contemplate redshirting freshman John David Booty.

But with Leinart nursing a high ankle sprain, and juniors Brandon Hance and Matt Cassel unable to distinguish themselves, Coach Pete Carroll and offensive coordinator Norm Chow essentially gave Booty the opportunity to become the Trojans' No. 2 quarterback on Wednesday.

Booty responded with perhaps his most impressive performance to date.

"He's ready to play," Carroll said after practice.

Neither Carroll nor Chow would say that Booty had bypassed Hance or Cassel on the depth chart. However, the sheer amount of repetitions Booty took as the ninth-ranked Trojans prepared for Saturday's game against Stanford indicates they would not hesitate to turn to him if Leinart cannot play, is re-injured or falters.

"John David played awfully well today," Chow said.

Booty said he was given no indication before practice that he would get so much work.

"I think they're just trying to have all their options ready in case something happens to No. 11," Booty said, referring to Leinart. "Overall, it was a good day for me. Hopefully, they'll call my number again."

Booty had received most of the snaps during the bye week after a Sept. 13 victory over Hawaii, but got limited work in practices leading to games against California and Arizona State.

Cassel played most of the second quarter last Saturday against Arizona State after Leinart was injured, and Hance was warming up to start the second half before Leinart returned and led the Trojans to victory.

With Leinart unable to practice, Hance took most of the snaps on Tuesday, but acknowledged he was not sharp.

On Wednesday, the coaches turned to Booty.

"If we keep giving everybody their shot, we're not making anybody better," Chow said. "So we just felt we'd give [Booty] a good look today and see how it went. And it went pretty well."

*

Leinart practiced for the first time this week and said his ankle was improving.

"I'm probably not going to be 100% because it's an ankle sprain and that's how they are," he said. "But I'm going to play and lead my team."

*

Middle linebacker Daniel Urquhart returned after sitting out Tuesday's practice because of flu.... Carroll said offensive tackle Winston Justice, running back Chauncey Washington and middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu, all of whom are nursing high ankle sprains, might be ready to play.

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