Next in Line?

With the overwhelming talent currently on USC's roster, and the consistent success that Pete Carroll has achieved, one would have to imagine that nearly every play-caller in college football would be interested in replacing Steve Sarkisian at USC.

Mark Sanchez, Joe McKnight, Damian Williams, Stafon Johnson and Ronald Johnson are just a handful of the weapons that USC's next offensive coordinator will have at his disposal in 2009.

With the overwhelming talent currently on USC's roster, and the consistent success that Pete Carroll has achieved, one would have to imagine that nearly every play-caller in college football would be interested in replacing Steve Sarkisian at USC.

Instead of bringing in a high-profile offensive coordinator, Pete Carroll appears to be leaning towards promoting from within, tapping wide receiver coach John Morton as the Trojans' next offensive coordinator.

"Whoever steps into this role, I know Coach Carroll is going to pick someone great," USC quarterback Mark Sanchez said. "Coach Carroll is going to pick out what's best for this offense.

"It's going to be a pretty good offense coming back."

The move, which may not create the splash USC fans were hoping for, is being done with continuity in mind.

"I'm always in tone with continuity first," Pete Carroll said. "I am not looking for a bunch of big changes and stuff like that.

"I like that we have great background and history in our style and what we do. It's been very successful for us, and so I am always looking to see how we can maintain the continuity that has worked for us over the years."

Coach Carroll talked with John Morton on Sunday about the vacancy at offensive coordinator.

"We just started talking," Morton said. "He just talked to me about my past, what I have done, and my philosophy."

Morton said he has developed much of his philosophy while at USC the past two seasons.

"My philosophy is making sure the quarterback gets in rhythm," he said. "You always establish the run game and you try to have a well-balanced attack.

"That's what we do here. We try to maintain a certain balance."

So what does Mark Sanchez think about the possibility of Morton taking over the offense?

"He knows our offense inside and out," Sanchez said. "I have a good relationship with him. It's going to be fun no matter what happens."

If Morton receives the job, he doesn't see any reason to make major changes on the offensive side of the ball.

"There is a certain blueprint, a certain philosophy that they have had here for years and they have been successful doing it," Morton said. "I have learned it, and there is no reason to change anything. You keep doing what you have been doing."

Morton joined the USC staff in February of 2007 and has served as the wide receiver coach and passing game coordinator the past two seasons.

Before coming to USC, he spent eight years in the Oakland Raiders organization in various roles, working his way up to tight end coach in 2004, where he coached with Steve Sarkisian.

In 2005, he served as the wide receiver coach and passing game coordinator under Jim Harbaugh at the University of San Diego.

Morton was an offensive assistant for the New Orleans Saints in 2006.

"I have been around some great coaches," Morton said. "Jon Gruden, Bill Callahan, Sean Payton and Coach Carroll, those are some really great coaches to be around. I have earned my stripes."

Carroll said he has also talked with former quarterback coach Carl Smith about returning in some capacity.

"I have talked to Carl (Smith). He has done an incredible job for us and would bring a tremendous amount of expertise and experience," Carroll said. "Something is possible there."

One possible scenario would have John Morton receiving the offensive coordinator job, and Carl Smith returning to coach the quarterbacks.

Coach Carroll hasn't set a timetable for naming a new offensive coordinator and said Steve Sarkisian would stay with USC through the Rose Bowl.

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions you can reach Kevin Carden at kevin@scplaybook.com


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