Just three days after breaking a bone in the middle finger of his throwing arm, Booty has been cleared to play. A broken finger. If Booty is able to start, play and provide leadership, this may say something about his heart. Fellow teammates may step forward and play harder knowing that the captain, the quarterback has the heart to play through pain.
Several years ago, Matt Leinart played through injuries in a game against Arizona State. The team got behind Leinart and his determination, and never looked back-for three years. That was the defining moment of that Trojan Team. The day Leinart sucked up his gut, played through pain and led his team to a pair of National Championships.
This could be such a moment for John David Booty.
On the other hand, playing with a broken finger may actually hurt Booty, his team and be detrimental to Booty's future. Should he sit out a week or two so his finger has time to heal properly?
Now let's think about Mark Sanchez for a moment. Some may think he is the "Second Coming," or the salvation of Troy. A year ago that may have been true. But what a difference a year makes. In 2006 many thought the competition for the starting role was close between Booty and Sanchez, but Booty got the nod because of seniority.
That may have been true. A year ago.
What transpired in the intervening time is that Booty took a firm grasp on the starting role, deservedly so, and locked on to that position. He has more than a year's worth of game time experience. Sanchez has virtually none.
More critical has been Sanchez' performance on the practice field. He has been inconsistent in practice, throwing interceptions, getting sacked and not living up to expectation. He did break the thumb in his throwing arm as the season started. It took him weeks to recover. Just this last week has he finally shown glimpses of his former self.
Sanchez has no real NCAA College Football experience. He hasn't been on the football field in a full-time capacity since 2004. Sanchez is raw.
Getting all of that out of the way, one can imagine, or question, "what if?" What if Sanchez gets in there and fires up the team? What if he is the spark the Trojans so desperately need?
According to Pete Carroll, Sanchez is different than Carson Palmer, Matt Leinart and John David Booty before him. Carroll characterizes Sanchez as more of a "gunslinger" or "risk-taker" which none of the aforementioned quarterbacks were and are. He is also a mobile quarterback.
Sanchez certainly plays with more emotion and fire. He could be just what the doctor ordered. On the other hand, John David Booty is a known quantity and an extremely hard worker.
Booty vs. Sanchez. It's night and day. It's an intriguing thought. Bottom line: both bring great qualities to the table. Both can lead the Trojans to victory. Carroll has stated that the decision will be made as the week progresses. Saturday can't get here soon enough.