Wednesday Practice Report

Sanchez getting closer to his first start, updates on the running backs and offensive line, and more from Wednesday's practice.

Sanchez Likely to Start

John David Booty wasn't able to throw on Wednesday because his injured finger was still very swollen. As each day passes it appears more and more likely that Mark Sanchez will get the first start of his career this Saturday against Arizona.

When asked if Sanchez has officially been named the starter Pete Carroll remained noncommittal. "John did not throw the ball today and we aren't going to have him throw it for a while here. We are going to make sure and give him a chance to heal as much as possible and we will figure out who is starting a little bit later," said Carroll.

Sanchez Feeling the Love

With possibility of being the Trojans starting quarterback this Saturday, Mark Sanchez has suddenly become the most popular guy around town. The local product from nearby Mission Viejo High School has received well wishes from former coaches, teachers and friends. "My phone has been going off the hook like crazy. People calling and texting and I totally appreciate their support. I haven't used my phone so much in a while so this battery is just dying on me real quick," said a grateful Sanchez.

More Offensive Line Issues

The Trojan offensive line has been without Kristofer O'Dowd, Chilo Rachal and Matt Spanos this week while preparing to face a very tough Arizona defense. And on Wednesday the news got even worse for the offensive line. Charles Brown and Thomas Herring both watched practice from the sidelines with sprained ankles that they suffered during Tuesday's practice.

After practice Wednesday, Pete Carroll explained that the injuries weren't serious. "Thomas (Herring) got kicked in the back of his ankle and turned his ankle a little bit. A similar kind of thing happened with Charles (Brown). A guy fell on the back of his leg," said Carroll. "It's not serious injuries and they should both be ready for the weekend but they just need a couple days here."

Offensive line coach Pat Ruel said he isn't worried about the sudden lack of depth on the line. "The only thing I am concerned about is the five guys out there. The five guys out there have got to play. They have to bring it and do their jobs," said Ruel

Stafon Johnson's Return Remains Uncertain

Stafon Johnson did some running early during Wednesday's practice but didn't take part in any drills. After practice Pete Carroll explained that they would know more about Johnson's availability after he tests his foot at practice on Thursday. "He ran today. He ran around and felt pretty good as far as coming back. So tomorrow is a big day for him. We need to see if he can do something," said Carroll. "Again this is not a dangerous situation with him. It's just he's got to get back and get going. He ran today and took some plays and stuff and felt pretty good about it. I wouldn't be surprised at all if he is ready to go on Saturday."

Jeff Byers Could Start at Center

Jeff Byers could become the Trojans third starting center in the last three weeks. Byers practiced at center again on Wednesday in place of the injured Matt Spanos.

Spanos insists that he will play Saturday and even if he does, Pete Carroll said Jeff Byers could still be the starting center because Mark Sanchez hasn't got any reps with Matt Spanos this week.

"I'm concerned about the fact that he (Mark Sanchez) hasn't had a chance to work with Matt (Spanos) much," said Carroll.

No Turnover Wednesday

Pete Carroll's mantra since he arrived at USC has been, "It's all about the ball." Carroll continually stresses the importance of causing turnovers on defense and keeping the ball secure on offense.

On Wednesday, Mark Sanchez and the Trojans offense won the turnover battle by not having a single turnover. "The offense threw a no-hitter today," said Carroll.

Sanchez, who Pete Carroll calls a "gunslinger," has looked very poised and under control this week.

Passing Game Looks Sharp

The Trojans passing attack looked crisp during 7-on-7 and team drills throughout practice Wednesday. Mark Sanchez once again hooked up with tight end Fred Davis for several big plays today.

Sanchez also seemed to be getting very comfortable with sophomore wide receiver Vidal Hazleton. Hazleton had a handful of nice catches on the day.

One thing that really stuck out today was Sanchez's mobility and arm strength.

Linebacker's Getting Healthy

Thomas Williams returned to practice Wednesday and will be available for the Arizona game. "He looked good. He practiced full speed today. He did everything and was in on the game plan and can play full time if we need him," said Carroll.

With Clay Mathews and Thomas Williams back near full strength, Brian Cushing is the only linebacker that won't be available against Arizona.


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