Well, maybe he’s not much of a secret after last year’s Rose Bowl. Garrett Green, a 2005 Prep Star Al..."/> Well, maybe he’s not much of a secret after last year’s Rose Bowl. Garrett Green, a 2005 Prep Star Al..."/>

Garret Green: USC’s Secret Weapon


Well, maybe he’s not much of a secret after last year’s Rose Bowl.

Garrett Green, a 2005 Prep Star All-American from Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks, came to USC as a quarterback but was switched to safety early in the 2006 season. He played in 10 games, mostly on special teams.

Last year, he was moved to wide receiver. He appeared in all 13 games, again mostly on special teams. He did not have any tackles or receptions, but he did have the Trojans longest TD pass in the 2008 Rose Bowl.

In the first quarter with USC ahead of the Illinois, 7-0, and the ball at the Illinois 34, Green lined up as a slot receiver. On the snap, he stepped back and John David Booty tossed him the ball as though the play were a bubble screen. With a defensive end coming hard, Green calmly threw across the field and hit a wide-open Desmond Reed for a touchdown.

This year, he started out as a backup wide receiver once more. Throughout the spring and most of Fall camp, he was catching passes from Mitch Mustain and Aaron Corp. Now he is competing with them at quarterback.

On August 10th, the day that Mark Sanchez dislocated his knee, Green was switched once again. This time back to his original position as a backup quarterback. His progress has been nothing less than remarkable.

No, he won’t be starting anytime soon. And when Mark Sanchez returns, Green will probably be moved back to the wide receiver pool. Believe me, it’s quite a pool with the likes of Damian Williams, Patrick Turner, Travon Patterson, Vidal Hazelton, David Ausbery, D. J. Shoemate, and Brice Butler.

But what is so remarkable about Green is his versatility. In his first scrimmage of Fall Camp at the Coliseum last Saturday, Green went 6-for-10 for 63 yards with a touchdown and an interception that C.J. Gable should have caught.

Then at that Sunday’s practice, Green hooked up with Jordan Cameron for the longest play of the day, a 50-yard touchdown. At the team’s next practice, Green led a touchdown scoring drive as the team practiced overtime situations.

There are two things that are immediately noticeable when you watch Green practice, his composure and his mobility.

Of the three backup quarterbacks, Green has the best composure under fire. He has much better mobility than Mustain. While he lacks Corp’s top speed, he has more staying power. Whereas Corp will immediately take off when there’s any kind of pressure, Green will stay in the pocket long enough to go through his progressions. When the defense finally brings the heat, he can scramble with the best of them and not lose sight of his receivers.

That was evident in yesterday’s mock game at the Coliseum. Working behind a service team line, he was on the run most of the day. Yet, the first-unit defense, regarded by some as the best in the nation if not the best of the Pete Carroll era, only got to him one time (a Kyle Moore sack).

He started off the game with a 21-yard pass to Jordan Cameron and followed it with another short pass and a scramble across midfield. The drive finally stalled on a third-and-three when Kyle Moore stopped Marc Tyler for a two-yard loss.

But Green’s most remarkable play was a now-they-have-him, now-they-don’t scramble that had the first-unit defense grabbing air. Maintaining his composure, Green saw Cameron break into the clear and threw a 48-yard strike for the longest completion of the game. A couple plays later, Green hit Brice Butler for a seven-yard score to knot the game at 7-7.

Not quite done, today, Green threw two more touchdowns to put an exclamation point on the final practice of Fall camp, hitting receiver Sean Calcagnie on an 18-yard touchdown in the back of the end zone and later connecting with freshman phenom, D.J. Shoemate, for another touchdown.

So, the question is, or rather, the dilemma for Pete Carroll is – how does keep Green off the field? Next to Joe McKnight, he is the most versatile player in camp. Just sending him in a game and putting in the slot will create a dilemma for the defense.

Should they look for the quarterback lateral and the slot receiver pass? What about an end around? Green runs the rollout as though it were invented for him? Or what if he just catches the ball on a bubble screen and runs?

The possibilities are virtually endless. He could lineup in the backfield and take a direct snap. Or what about on special teams? A fourth-down punting situation. With Green on the field anything can happen. The punter could lateral to Green, and Green could run with it or throw downfield. Green could also line up to block and take a direct snap.

So, for Coach Carroll and offensive coordinator, Steve Sarkisian, Garrett Green presents a very pleasant, if not intriguing, dilemma. The only thing more intriguing is the thought of McKnight and Green lining up in the backfield at the same time. Good grief!