Thursday Practice: Corp in the Lead

Pete Carroll has been very guarded in his evaluation of the quarterback competition but today he admitted that Aaron Corp has a slight lead in the race to replace Sanchez. Look inside for more on USC's hard-hitting practice.

Corp in the Lead

Pete Carroll has been very guarded in his evaluation of the quarterback competition but today he admitted that Aaron Corp has a slight lead in the race to replace Sanchez.

"I think he came in a little bit ahead and so in that regard he's holding on to that," Carroll said. "I think he is doing good."

Corp has been the most consistent of the group so far and has made the least mistakes, which is a major factor in the competition.

Today, he capitalized on one more area that he has a distinct advantage in, by using his mobility to scramble away from pressure and pick up first downs with his feet.

"He's resourceful and he's quick and he's accustomed to doing it from his past," Carroll said of Corp's ability to run with the ball. "I really like the way he's handling it.

"He's sending off the message that he is very comfortable right now and understands what's asked of him. He's doing a nice job."

While Corp has a slight lead at quarterback, Mitch Mustain put together his best performance of the spring today, making good reads and limiting his bad throws.

Freshman Matt Barkley continues to make the most big plays and impress with his confidence, but has also made the most mistakes, which is to be expected of a first-year player.

Barkley was the only quarterback to throw an interception on Thursday, getting picked off by Malcolm Smith.

"He had a rough time in 7-on-7 today and threw a couple of balls he shouldn't have thrown," Carroll said.

Carroll Praises Floyd

At the media gathering at the end of practice today, the first question that Pete Carroll was asked had nothing to do with football, but everything to do with coaching.

Carroll was asked for his reaction to the news that Tim Floyd was staying at USC, and Carroll, an avid basketball fan, said he couldn't be happier with Floyd's decision.

"I think it is awesome that he is not going," Carroll said. "It's a great statement about his commitment to the university and these kids that he is working with."

Carroll, who can regularly be seen at the basketball games with recruits, is an admirer of what Floyd has been able to accomplish at USC.

"To have the three back-to-back years that he's had is unprecedented here and he is the guy that has turned it around," Carroll said. "I love that his commitment is to stay here."

Carroll also encouraged the students and fans to get behind Floyd's program.

"I hope we all respond accordingly," Carroll said. "This is a great time for USC basketball. We are doing great stuff."

Let the Hitting Begin

It was an electric atmosphere at practice today as the defensive players came out in shoulder pads for the first time and immediately started dishing out the big blows.

Middle linebacker Chris Galippo got the party started by delivering a handful of big hits during the team run period.

"We were getting after it with the running backs," Galippo said. "The entire defense was just going off.

"It's nice to have that intensity on the first day."

Safety Will Harris, who has become known for his intensity and big hits on the practice field, came up from his safety position to deliver some big hits on the running backs during 11-on-11.

"I can't wait to see the film," Carroll said. "I didn't have to say anything they just went for it. I just kind of sat back and had fun watching."

After practice, Pete Carroll raved about the attitude of the team and the tempo of practice.

"This is an energetic group. They got a lot of spunk and they are fired up about playing football and just having fun," Carroll said. "Here we are week one, day three of spring and we are lighting it up and having a blast out here."

News and Notes

- Stafon Johnson, Marshall Jones, Thomas Herring and Blake Ayles were among the players that didn't participate in practice on Thursday.

- Stafon Johnson was held out after experiencing some soreness in his right knee.

"He's got MRI results coming back to see what it is," Carroll said. "He felt a little something. He feels like he is going to practice tomorrow but we will wait and see."

- Defensive back Marshall Jones was sidelined with a hamstring injury.

- Offensive tackle Tyron Smith has been working with the first team at right tackle to see how he fits in on the right side. Smith looks like a player that is just too good to keep off the field.

"He's been very impressive. He's got everything that you are looking for at the tackle spot," Carroll said. "We want to make sure that we see him in the position with the first group and see what he looks like as a starter. Can he handle the communications and does he have any issues?

"So far he has done very well. It's an experiment that is going really well right now."

- It was a bad day for the tight ends as three players got banged up during practice.

"We got kind of banged up at the tight end spot today. Anthony's (McCoy) hamstring tightened up and Cooper's (Stephenson) hamstring tightened up and Mike Reardon got his shoulder knocked a little bit too," Carroll said. "We got hit in one position today and kind of messed up practice a little bit reps-wise."

*Discuss more on the message boards

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions you can reach Kevin Carden at Top Stories