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USC REPORT

Backup Quarterback Spot Still Up in Air

September 19, 2003|Gary Klein | Times Staff Writer

Freshman quarterback John David Booty got the opportunity to win a backup role to starter Matt Leinart during USC's three bye-week practices, but Coach Pete Carroll said Thursday that no decision had been made about Booty's status.

Booty, redshirt junior Matt Cassel and junior Brandon Hance shared snaps during a scrimmage Thursday before the Trojans broke for two days off.

"It didn't show like anybody took over," Carroll said. "I thought Matt Cassel had a nice little day for the most part. We want to take all three days, put all the plays together and take a look at it."

Booty said it was his best week since arriving for training camp in August.

"Of course, I've had the most opportunities this week to get in a rhythm and do things," Booty said. "That was fun for me.... If things stay like they are, I can't wait for the next off week."

Fourth-ranked USC does not have another bye until the week after a Nov. 1 game against Washington State.

Carroll said Booty, fullback Whitney Lewis, center Ryan Kalil, offensive lineman John Drake, linebacker and safety Dallas Sartz, linebacker Daniel Urquhart, defensive lineman Manuel Wright and snapper Will Collins took advantage of additional repetitions throughout the week.

The Trojans return to practice Sunday in preparation for their Pacific 10 Conference opener at California on Sept. 27.

"I'm thrilled that we got out of it and nobody got nicked," Carroll said. "We come back Sunday night, it's game-plan time, and away we go."

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Several Trojans from out of state, including receiver Mike Williams of Florida and running back LenDale White of Colorado, are returning home during the break, Carroll said.

Several players from Southern California said they would use the days off to simply relax.

"I'm just going to lay down, watch TV, play video games and do nothing but maybe watch football," Leinart said.

Carroll said that he warned all players to avoid off-the-field problems.

"We've gotten off to a nice start and taking care of a lot of business," Carroll said.

"The beginning is now fully underway and we don't need to take any steps backward or get anybody in trouble."

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Carroll and his staff will attend high school and junior college games this weekend.... Quarterback Billy Hart, who has been the forgotten man in the competition to back up Leinart, did not take a meaningful snap during team drills this week. Hart, however, said he hurt his back lifting weights Monday and could not have participated.... USC's 11-game winning streak is the third-longest in the nation, trailing only Ohio State (17) and Boise State (13).

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