After watching practice from the driver's seat of an equipment cart Monday, USC quarterback Mark Sanchez sounded hopeful, if not completely optimistic, that he would be able to play Saturday against Arizona State.
"I'd be upset to be on the sideline but very supportive," said Sanchez, who suffered a bone bruise in his left knee against Oregon. "Hopefully, it doesn't come to that."
Sanchez overcame a dislocated kneecap in training camp but had several weeks to recover before starting the opener against Virginia. He has been icing his knee and receiving treatment from the team training staff for the last two days.
On Monday, Sanchez saw film of the play on which he was injured, a third-quarter sack by former high school teammate Nick Reed.
"It looked gross," Sanchez said. "That's not the way my leg's supposed to bend."
Sanchez, selected Pacific 10 Conference offensive player of the week for the third time this season, said he hoped to be cleared to practice today, but No. 8-ranked USC began moving forward with Mitch Mustain taking first-team snaps.
"I don't know what's going to happen," Coach Pete Carroll said.
Said offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian: "We're going with the mentality that Mitch is the guy or Mark's coming back late in the week."
Mustain, the sophomore transfer from Arkansas, was elevated last week from No. 4 to No. 2 on the depth chart. He is feeling confident after completing five of eight passes for 111 yards, including a 59-yard touchdown to receiver David Ausberry, against Oregon.
"I feel like I'm prepared and on top of the game plan," Mustain said.
Sarkisian said the game plan, if Mustain starts, would be "not huge, but precise."
Arizona State also has an issue at quarterback. Senior Rudy Carpenter is questionable after suffering an ankle injury in the Sun Devils' loss to California. If Carpenter does not play, junior Danny Sullivan would start in his place.
Middle linebacker Rey Maualuga, who did not play against Oregon because of a knee sprain, sprinted across the field to do a few drills, but was held out of the rest of practice.
Carroll said he did not expect Maualuga to practice before Wednesday. If Maualuga does not play, Brian Cushing would remain at middle linebacker.
Tailback Allen Bradford said he did not suit up against Oregon because of a torn labrum in his hip. Bradford will continue to rehabilitate the injury, which has bothered him off and on since last season, before considering surgery.
Linebacker Michael Morgan, who suffered a concussion against Oregon, did not practice. . . . Carroll said he had spoken to USC compliance officials regarding his attending two high school games involving Loyola High in September. Carroll said it was his understanding that he was within NCAA rules, which limit how many times coaches can watch a recruit, because he was not evaluating Loyola players when he watched the Cubs against Concord De La Salle. Mike Matthews, associate commissioner of compliance for the Pac-10, declined to comment on whether the conference was investigating the matter. Speaking generally, he said coaches who attend games are considered to be evaluating every player involved in that game. He also said that if it was an isolated case, it would be considered a secondary violation.