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USC FOOTBALL FYI

USC's Matt Barkley says he'll play, in pain if necessary

Freshman quarterback acknowledges he isn't throwing at full strength but plans to start against Washington State. Coach Pete Carroll will wait to make a decision.

September 23, 2009|Gary Klein

USC quarterback Matt Barkley says he is ready to play, pain or no pain.

Barkley, who started the first two games and then sat out the loss at Washington because of a bone bruise in his right shoulder, said Tuesday that he was planning to start Saturday night against Washington State at the Coliseum.

But Coach Pete Carroll cautioned that he would monitor the freshman's progress before any choice was made between Barkley and Aaron Corp.

"It could happen if everything works right," Carroll said of Barkley's starting.

Barkley and Corp split first-team snaps during Tuesday's full-pads workout before coaches told Barkley to ice his shoulder and sit out the final portion of practice.

Barkley was accurate throughout, but he acknowledged he still feels discomfort and is not throwing at full velocity.

"I don't really have any zip on it yet," he said.

Meanwhile, Corp is preparing to start again after struggling through much of the loss at Washington.

Corp threw for only 110 yards and had a pass intercepted, one of three Trojans turnovers that contributed to a 16-13 defeat.

"Coming off that field was not a good feeling -- I don't want that to be my only feeling as a starter," he said. "So I definitely want to get back out there and I definitely want to prove that I'm capable."

Asked whether he had tried to insulate himself from fans' criticism, Corp said, "There's criticism?" and then he chuckled. "Just kidding. I've really not paid attention to that. . . . What really matters is what's being said within the team."

Carroll is not likely to make any move regarding the starter until late in the week.

"I don't know which way to go yet," he said. "I'd like Barkley to get back in there and get him back to playing again.

"We'll just have to wait to be sure."

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Mustain gets some kicks

Mitch Mustain could never have imagined that his first start at USC might come as a punter rather than at quarterback. But it could happen.

"I won't argue with it and I'll gladly take it," said Mustain, a fourth-year junior who transferred to USC from Arkansas in 2007.

Mustain took second-team snaps at quarterback and also did kicking drills in an effort to unseat Billy O'Malley as the Trojans' punter.

"If I can do it and I'm the best guy out there, I'd like to get to play," Mustain said. "If I have to give the ball to the other team to do it, that's fine."

Mustain warmed up with Barkley in the fourth quarter of the Washington game but neither was called upon by Carroll.

Mustain, out of the mix as a possible starter at quarterback for Saturday's game, remains mostly upbeat.

"I don't know if Matt's going to be able to go or not," he said. "If not, I guess I'll still be No. 2, theoretically."

With the Trojans' offense failing to impress during most of the last two games, some fans are clamoring for Mustain to get a chance.

Mustain is unmoved.

"People always have something for the backup, so that's always nice, but again it's not reality," he said. "It's not going to make my situation any better so we'll see what happens with it."

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Quick hits

Safety Taylor Mays (knee) did agility drills but remains sidelined because he cannot move well laterally. . . . Tailback Joe McKnight practiced despite an ankle sprain suffered against Washington. . . . James Montgomery, Washington State's top running back, will be out the rest of the season after having surgery for a leg injury suffered in the Cougars' overtime win over Southern Methodist. Montgomery had 167 yards rushing in the first three games.

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gary.klein@latimes.com

twitter.com/latimesklein

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