With an eye always on the future, USC head coach Pete Carroll once again gave several freshmen the opportunity to play with the first-team during the bye week.
The expanded role during practice allows the coaching staff to get a better evaluation of the young talent on the roster as well as speed up player development.
"We are trying to help those guys for the future," Carroll said. ""That's why we have played all the young guys and stressed the emphasis of them getting turns against the good guys and making sure that we get evaluations and make them grow."
While a handful of freshmen have caught the eye the coaches with their play this week, freshman cornerback Torin Harris has made the biggest impact.
"He has had a big week and it's great to see him show up and excel like that," Carroll said.
Harris received praise from Pete Carroll following Wednesday's practice in which he intercepted a pass and forced a fumble.
The first-year cornerback finished the week off with two more big plays during the Trojans' 56-play scrimmage on Friday morning.
"Torin Harris had a great week," Carroll said. "He finished today, blocking a field goal and intercepting a pass."
Along with the blocked kick, Harris came up with the play of the day, intercepting Matt Barkley in the end zone, and racing 100 yards in the other direction for a touchdown on the final play before the weekend.
On the offensive side of the ball, wide receiver Devon Flournoy had a productive week of practice and pulled in 2 receptions for 42 yards on Friday.
"I think Devon Flournoy really showed up and had a really good week," Carroll said. "I thought he did some great stuff and made some tough plays. We used him a lot and it was great to see him emerge.
"He's got good quickness, very good hands and he has got a little playmaking ability in him that is special. He continues to elevate."
Flournoy has been limited this season as he struggles to learn the offense, but Carroll said they are going to continue to give him opportunities, and expect the speedy freshman to have an impact in the second-half of the season.
"We are really happy to see him look like he could be a factor," Carroll said. "I want to continue to push him. We are going to need him."
USC quarterback Mitch Mustain continues to make a run at the backup quarterback spot with another impressive week of practice.
"Mitch is doing his thing again. He is making a big move," Carroll said. "Just in general, he has picked up his game considerably. You can't help but notice it and it's really just good for our team and good for Mitch."
Carroll still wouldn't say that Mustain has overtaken Aaron Corp, but it wouldn't be the least bit surprising to see Mustain named the No.2 quarterback in the coming weeks.
"He is certainly vying for it," Carroll said when asked if Mustain was the No.2 QB. "He's right in there."
Mustain completed 10-of-12 pass attempts for 141 yards and 2 touchdowns, while Aaron Corp attempted just three passes on the day.
"I love seeing him compete like that," said Carroll.
- The USC Trojans held a 56-play scrimmage at Howard Jones Field Friday morning. The team was in helmets and shorts for the scrimmage.
- Scrimmage highlights: Brice Butler leaped in the air to pull in a one-handed 19-yard touchdown pass from Matt Barkley. Torin Harris returned an interception 100 yards for a touchdown and also blocked a field goal attempt. Mitch Mustain completed 10-of-12 passes for 141 yards and two touchdowns. Garrett Green and Ronald Johnson were on the receiving end of Mustain's TD passes. Jordan Congdon made a 42-yard field goal.
- Carroll said he has been pleased with the play of tight end Blake Ayles and commented that the sophomore has matured this season.
"He's doing really well. He is really part of the game plan and a guy that we want to get the ball to," Carroll said. "I think he is very comfortable now and should really just be able to continue to blossom.
"He's over the learning humps and all that stuff that the young guys go through and he's physically right. I think he is a really good player."
- Carroll said he was happy with the intensity and focus that the players displayed on the practice field during the bye week.
"The whole week turned out great. This was a great workout this morning, to have the focus and attention that we had," Carroll said. "I am thrilled with the week that we had."
- Freshman safety Jawanza Starling is a player that has quietly contributed this season on special teams and at safety.
"He's really a natural football player," Carroll said. "He has real savvy for the game. He's just a real active football player and makes things happen."
- With the weekend off the USC coaches are set to hit the recruiting trail on Friday.
- The Trojans will have the weekend off before returning to the practice field on Monday to prepare for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
Mitch Mustain is making a strong case to be the No.2 QB (Jaime Rodriguez Photo)
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