Q&A with USC's Mitch Mustain

Mitch Mustain will be in the middle of the quarterback competition to replace Mark Sanchez at USC. SCPlaybook's Kevin Carden recently sat down with Mustain to talk about the quarterback race and much more.

Q: How have things changed for you since Mark Sanchez announced his decision to enter the NFL Draft?

A: "My role's kind of reversed. I go from being the younger guy to being the senior. As far as me and Aaron, we have the most experience now so it was a pretty quick change but it was nice. We get a chance to come out and take control of the pack a little bit and assert ourselves."

Q: Do you feel the need to step up and assume the role of a team leader this off-season?

A: "Yeah, we don't really have a choice, somebody's got to do it. It's the way it's always been here. The older ones take that role. It's been natural, we get into it and take off with it."

Q: Jeremy Bates has joined the coaching staff as the new quarterbacks coach. What has been your impression of him so far?

A: "He's got a lot of energy. It's nice. He's got ideas that I think will really help us kind of simplify the game for a lot of our guys and hopefully make us a lot better, so we can run a lot faster, we can get everything done. Who knows how it will look in Spring. I'm sure we'll have to work out a few kinks but we've got a month of that. I think it's fifteen practices and have all Summer so I think we'll be fine. I think he's going to help us a lot."

Q: Do you think he will make any major changes to the offense in '09?

A: "Coach Carroll is very adamant that the offense stays what it is. And that's from Norm Chow to Lane (Kiffin) to Sark to now. The concept is the same but we are going to change some stuff. We have changed already. Like I said, it's the way we organize things and the way we conceptualize things, it's going to simplify things and speed it up for everybody."

Q: How has he been different from Steve Sarkisian?

A: "It's a little bit early to tell, just because we haven't been able to work with him. Next week will be the first time we do that. It's one thing in the office, it's a whole new deal on the field. I'm excited for Tuesday when we get that chance. Every time you get new blood in it brings something a little different, and guys are excited about it. It brings some nice energy."

Q: What aspects of your game are you focused on trying to improve this off-season?

A: "Everything. Right now, I had the eye surgery so I'm trying to get over that a little bit. It doesn't hurt or anything it's not prohibiting or anything like that other than it gets a little blurry sometimes. But it will be fine by Spring. Really, just trying to keep improving and get the timing down so when we get into Spring we're kicking full speed."

Q: After your long journey from Arkansas to USC, you could once again be a starting quarterback with Damian Williams as your top receiver. How special would that be for the two of you?

A: "It's nice. It's made it a little easier of a transition. It would be pretty cool if we got that opportunity. I'm certain it's going to make Damian keep up the year he had last year and expand on that one. It always makes it easier, so whoever gets that, it's going to be nice to have him and I wouldn't mind throwing a couple TD's to him."

Q: Talk about Damian Williams as a wide receiver and a team leader?

A: "He's extremely intelligent, he knows what's going on. He knows how to study it. I think last year he proved that he's extremely versatile. We are able to move him around and he's able to help everyone else. He's a huge asset to us."

Q: With so much talent returning on the offensive side of the ball, just how good do you think the offense can be next season?

A: "I think we're going to be extremely good. We were good last year, and like I said our whole line is back. Our receivers are back, our running backs are back. So really it's just up to a couple guys and if we can fit into the puzzle then we'll be good. If you coupled that with the changes we've made and our concepts and how we organize everything, especially geared around helping our running backs and helping our line, which are two pretty good groups last year. I think it's really going to help us. If we can pull it together, we're going to be really good."

Mitch Mustain will battle Aaron Corp, Matt Barkley and Garrett Green to start at QB.

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

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