It was a subtle statement, a symbolic way to make sure there was no hint of possible quarterback drama as USC began preparations for Saturday's Pacific 10 Conference opener at Washington.
Despite a right shoulder bruise that prevented him from throwing a ball, Matt Barkley took initial first-team snaps during a short practice on Monday. The freshman handed the ball off to tailbacks and then gave way to third-year sophomore Aaron Corp.
Coach Pete Carroll said Barkley was day to day and would not give a timeline for when he would practice.
"They think he's going to be OK by the end of the week," Carroll said.
Barkley was injured during the second half of USC's 18-15 victory at Ohio State. He stayed in the game and led USC's game-winning scoring drive in the final seven minutes, completing 15 of 31 passes for 195 yards with an interception.
Barkley remained sore, but tests revealed only a bruise, Carroll said.
"He came into the [team] meeting with ice on it," Carroll said. "I made fun of him . . . like he'd been pumping a lot more on one side than the other and he ought to balance out his weightlifting."
USC did not make quarterbacks available to the media on Monday.
Asked if Barkley would play against Washington if he does not practice this week, Carroll zigzagged in response.
"No, not necessarily," he began. "I don't know. I would think not, but we'll find out."
Meantime, Corp got his first extensive work with the first-unit offense since suffering a cracked fibula on the third day of training camp. The injury opened the door for Barkley to take nearly every first-team snap on his way to becoming the starter.
Corp was under constant pressure from the defensive line and had a pass intercepted by freshman safety T.J. McDonald during a workout that was conducted without helmets or pads. But Corp mostly looked comfortable running the offense and scrambled several times for first downs.
"He looks really good," Carroll said. "He looks full speed to me and I haven't felt that in other weeks."
McKnight held on
Tailback Joe McKnight, selected the Pacific 10 Conference offensive player of the week, said he focused on ball security during the Trojans' game-winning drive at Ohio State.
McKnight turned a short reception into a 21-yard gain, rushed for 32 yards and also caught a two-point conversion pass to cap the drive.
"I didn't want to cough the ball up for anything -- that was the only thing on my mind," McKnight said. "I wasn't trying to break anything, try to make anybody miss, I was just trying to get downfield and keep the ball in my hands."
On the lookout
One of Carroll's main concerns heading into the Washington game is avoiding a repeat of last season when the Trojans lost their Pac-10 opener at Oregon State after beating Ohio State.
"I told the guys that I had seen it coming during the spring from the year before and we still didn't perform like we were capable, so this time around . . . I'm not skirting around the issues," Carroll said.
All-American safety Taylor Mays did not practice because of a knee sprain and is day today. . . . Offensive tackle Charles Brown was absent because of illness, Carroll said. Butch Lewis worked with the first-team offense at left tackle in Brown's place. . . . USC's Sept. 26 game against Washington State at the Coliseum will kick off at 7:15 p.m. and will be televised by FSN.