Mark Sanchez is a fiery player that loves to take chances down the field, and is always looking to make a big play, but the junior quarterback is learning that being more careful with the ball, like he was last Saturday against Cal, is part of becoming a more polished quarterback.
"It looks sweet when you stop and see Ronald Johnson 50 yards down the field and you launch one to him," Sanchez said with a smile. "It feels a lot cooler than throwing Anthony McCoy a 6-yard stop route."
Sanchez admits that it has been a challenge to reign in his gunslinger mentality.
"It's hard to hold back the way I would love to play, that street football mentality, he said. "Just wing it all over the field.
"It's hard to hold it back but I think I'm starting to get a handle on it."
Last Saturday's win against Cal was a good example of Sanchez playing within himself and limiting his mistakes.
"Sark has been hammering it home to me to take care of the football at all costs," Sanchez said. "I think a big turning point was Arizona. The last two games since then I haven't thrown a pick."
With USC's dominant defense, which ranks first in the nation in scoring defense, allowing just 6.7 points a game, the junior quarterback realizes he doesn't have to force throws.
"When you have a good defense like that and such a strong running game, it's OK to punt," he said. "It's not the end of the world."
In 2008, Sanchez has thrown for 24 touchdowns and seven interceptions.
News and Notes
- Joe McKnight missed Tuesday's practice to return home to Louisiana to attend his grandmother's funeral services. McKnight is expected to be back at practice on Wednesday.
- Defensive Lineman Fili Moala wasn't at practice on Tuesday.
- USC linebacker Rey Maualuga was named a Lombardi Award finalist on Tuesday. Maualuga, Ohio State LB James Laurinaitis, Texas DE Brian Orakpo and Alabama OL Andre Smith are the finalist for the prestigious award.
Mark Sanchez has passed for 24 touchdowns and seven interceptions in 2008. (Getty Images/Harry How)