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Sanchez takes positive steps

August 12, 2008|Gary Klein | Times Staff Writer

USC quarterback Mark Sanchez spent most of Monday's practices traversing the field and barking encouragement from a golf cart, but he also took the first steps toward a possible return for the Aug. 30 opener against Virginia.

Sanchez began rehabilitation for the dislocated left kneecap he suffered Friday. He worked with the training staff and also stood and tossed a few short passes to freshman receiver Brice Butler.

"The next few days they'll be able to make some better judgment calls about when I'll be back," said Sanchez, who is scheduled to be examined today by team physician James Tibone. "The best thing is it didn't swell up after rehab."

Mitch Mustain and Aaron Corp are seizing the opportunity in Sanchez's absence from drills, but the increased repetitions are beginning to take a physical toll. Mustain emerged from the locker room after Monday's second practice with his right shoulder in ice. Corp is experiencing groin soreness.

Neither pain is expected to dampen the competition to possibly replace Sanchez against Virginia. Both Mustain and Corp are looking forward to today's scrimmage at the Coliseum, the first of three before the opener.


Linemen fall

Offensive lineman Michael Reardon had an MRI exam on his right hip and said he would probably need surgery. Reardon, a redshirt freshman, had been working as the backup center. With Jeff Byers still not participating in contact drills, Alex Parsons is the backup center.

Freshman offensive lineman Matt Meyer, who has had three surgeries on his right foot, has stress fractures that might require another operation, probably putting him on track to be a redshirt.


Quick kicks

Coach Pete Carroll oversaw practice with a heavy heart as he mourned the death of friend Bo Taylor, who died of cancer. Taylor founded the Unity One violence prevention nonprofit that worked closely with Carroll's "A Better L.A." organization.




L.A.'s quarterback candidates


6-4, 195, redshirt freshman

* Where he's from: Played at Orange Lutheran High, where he led his team to a state title. His father, Chris, played receiver for a I-AA championship team at Idaho State. His mother, Mary, was a setter for the volleyball team at Idaho State, and his sister, Lauren, is a St. Mary's-bound senior volleyball hitter for Orange Lutheran.

* What he does well: Among the fastest Trojans, Corp's mobility is impressive and his arm strength and throwing motion have steadily improved. His intangible asset throughout his career has been his ability to play his best when it counts most.

* What he needs to work on: His passes occasionally flutter and there are times he goes for the home run when it might be wiser to dump the ball to a running back. USC puts a premium on a quarterback's ability to manage the offense and hasn't recently encouraged scrambles or called designed running plays. Corp might break the mold.

* Career highlights: In the spring scrimmage at the Coliseum, Corp completed 13 of 16 passes for 158 yards and two touchdowns. It was his biggest college stage to date and he did not flinch.

* What he says: "I feel like I'm in a decent spot right now. It's just a matter of staying consistent. . . . Getting first-team reps is a big confidence booster and when you succeed in there and make some plays that also helps."

* What they say about him: "I thought he really grew up throughout spring and had a great spring game," offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian said. "He started a little bit slow in this training camp but he's just gotten better and better."

-- Gary Klein



6-3, 210, redshirt sophomore

* Where he's from: Transferred to USC last year from Arkansas, where he was part of a college football soap opera that ultimately led to his departure and that of receiver Damian Williams, offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn, coach Houston Nutt and the school's athletic director and chancellor. Not exactly the Hog Heaven that Razorbacks fans envisioned for a player who won national player-of-the-year awards.

* What he does well: Fundamentally sound, he already has proved he can be successful on a big stage. He played in 12 games for Arkansas in 2006, starting and winning eight in a row. Mustain throws well from the pocket but also has the knack for finding open receivers when plays break down.

* What he needs to work on: Mastering USC's system and terminology so that he does not hesitate when making decisions on the field.

* Career highlights: Mustain ran for a short touchdown against USC in the 2006 opener. He also completed 13 of 20 passes for 224 yards and three touchdowns against Vanderbilt and led the Razorbacks to a 27-10 victory at then-No. 2 Auburn.

* What he says: "I'm just trying to stay in the thick of it and work on my stuff and [not] worry so much about competing with Corp. [It's more] just getting everything down. It's not going to be much of a competition if I don't know what I'm doing. . . ."

* What they say about him: "It's a little bit frustrating for him right now because some of the stuff is [making] the same mistakes more than once and we've got to get over that hurdle," offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian said. "He's probably about par for the course of where he should be."

-- Gary Klein

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