Spring Ball preview: Quarterback

The quarterback position is not nearly the uncertain spot it was heading into spring ball a year ago when the Trojans faced the task of replacing the Heisman Trophy winner. This year we have the luxury of welcoming back the reigning Pac-10 Player of the Year and there is no doubt Matt Leinart will be the man when USC opens spring practices next month.

The quarterback position is not nearly the uncertain spot it was heading into spring ball a year ago when the Trojans faced the task of replacing the Heisman Trophy winner. This year we have the luxury of welcoming back the reigning Pac-10 Player of the Year and there is no doubt Matt Leinart will be the man when USC opens spring practices next month.

Leinart was named the starter at the end of spring practice in 2003 after a tough competition with Matt Cassel and Brandon Hance which went down to the final days. From that point forward Leinart seized the opportunity and never looked back as he put up amazing numbers last year while leading the Trojans to the National Championship and becoming only the 2nd sophomore, along with John Elway, to be named conference POY.

Matt impressed everybody with his accuracy, soft touch and decision making as he seems to be another in the long line of quarterbacks who thrive in the Norm Chow system. He will look to work on his timing with Mike Williams this spring as well as continuing his rapport with Steve Smith, Whitney Lewis and other receivers (including newcomer Fred Davis).

This will be a big spring for John David Booty as he returns from a wrist injury which sidelined him at the end of last season. Booty will be looking to establish a firm grip on the back-up role in anticipation of being the heir apparent at quarterback. He made so much progress in the fall before getting hurt and it only stands to reason that he will only get better as he continues to learn the Chow system. John David should also benefit from a winter conditioning session with Chris Carlisle.

Brandon Hance will put up a fight with Booty for the back-up spot. It's easy to imagine that Brandon would have been more of a factor in the QB battle last season if not for an unfortunate string of injuries and illness but he fought back and impressed the coaches with his play during the bowl session practices in December. He doesn't have the arm strength of Booty but don't count Hance out of this back-up competition just yet.

Billy Hart is playing for the USC baseball team right now but it expected to be available for spring ball.

Rocky Hinds will arrive in the fall.


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