The big news out of Fall Camp at USC last week was, of cou..."/> The big news out of Fall Camp at USC last week was, of cou..."/>

USC Football: The Week That Was


The big news out of Fall Camp at USC last week was, of course, the injury to Mark Sanchez, the starting quarterback. Sanchez dislocated his knee as he stepped back to throw a pass while loosening up.

A state of alarm momentarily descended over the entire practice field as trainers rushed to Sanchez’ side and immediately immobilized his leg. Practice resumed and soon got up to speed after the initial shock had worn off, and Mitch Mustain and Aaron Corp took over the reins at quarterback.

The Sanchez injury may have been a blessing in disguise, however. Not that myself or anyone else wants to see any player injured. But it is very fortunate that the injury occurred with three weeks left before the opener instead of during the bye week or at mid-season.

The other good thing is that it wasn’t as serious as first believed. The trainers popped Sanchez’ knee back into place before they immobilized his leg. An MRI done that evening showed no damage to the cartilage or ligaments, which probably would have required surgery.

Sanchez took in a Sunday night scrimmage driving around the field in a utility cart and began his rehabilitation on Monday. Yesterday, Wednesday, he attended practice walking around wearing a knee brace. So, it looks like his rehabilitation is right on schedule, which would put him back on the field in time for the Ohio State game.

However, according to Sanchez, he believes he will be ready for the opener against the Virginia Cavaliers on August 30th.

Whether he makes it back for the opener or not, his injury has given his two backups, Mustain and Corp, more reps with the first team. This should go a long way in lifting their confidence should anything further happen to Sanchez down the line. It has also given them an incentive to study the playbook with a greater sense of urgency.

One interesting aspect out of the competition for the starting spot should Sanchez not make it back by the Virginia game, Corp, third on the quarterback depth chart, actually looked somewhat sharper than Mustain at the end of the first week of camp.

Some other injuries of note, freshman wide receiver Brice Butler and freshman offensive tackle Tyron Smith both suffered ankle injuries last week. Left guard, Jeff Byers, the only offensive lineman to start 12 of the 13 games last season, has had a mysterious flu-like illness that kept him away from practice.

Byers’ illness was diagnosed as Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, which he thinks he picked up from a tick bite when he attended his sister’s wedding in Colorado. The good news is he has been cleared for non-contact drills and should be cleared for contact work by the end of this week.

This past Tuesday, the Trojans held a scrimmage at the Coliseum, and it was the defense that stifled the offense all afternoon. Ironically, the only offensive touchdown came when third team quarterback, Garrett Green hit Brandon Carswell for a 43-yard score.

Green, a quarterback at Notre Dame High School, was moved over from wide receiver to quarterback behind Mustain and Corp when Sanchez went down. Green also threw a 34-yard touchdown pass, lined up at split end, off a lateral in the Rose Bowl against Illinois.

Another conversion, Derek Simmons converted from defense to offense due to the injury to Tyron Smith and Michael Reardon’s lingering back problem as well as the illness to Jeff Byers.

Besides Sanchez, the injured at yesterday’s practice included Cary Harris, Jordan Campbell, Travon Patterson, Joe McKnight, Brice Butler, Matt Meyer, Michael Reardon and Tyron Smith.

Jordan Campbell (who had a terrific spring practice), Travon Patterson and Joe McKnight have had a great camp so far, and hopefully all three will be back on the field shortly.

Yesterday, the offense made up for its sluggish performance at Tuesday’s scrimmage with Mustain and Corp both coming into their own. Mustain had touchdown passes to Ronald Johnson and tight end Anthony McCoy in 11-on-11 drill. McCoy did a high leap in the end zone to pull his pass down.

Corp hit Damian Williams in stride for a score. Williams, held onto the rock, even after a bone-crunching wallop from safety Taylor Mays, that would have shaken the ball loose from most receivers.

One other note: True freshman defensive tackle, Jurrell Casey is having a lights-out camp. He might make me change my prediction for starting nose tackle. Casey may just jump over Averell Spicer and Christian Tupou. And I’m still sticking to my prediction that C.J. Gable will be the starting tailback in the first offensive series against Virginia.  We shall see. Stay tuned.