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April 20, 2009

Commentary: Endorsing Corp

With just one week remaining in spring practices, followers of the quarterback competition and the Trojan football team in general might not have watched every snap of the football this spring.

Fortunately, I have.

Watching Aaron Corp, Matt Barkley and Mitch Mustain battle over the course of the last three-plus weeks has given me a pretty good idea of what each quarterback has to offer and where each quarterback stands in the competition.

And after seeing what I've seen, I've come to the conclusion that it would only make sense to name Aaron Corp the starting quarterback heading into the summer. Anything else would be ridiculous.

The reasons why USC head coach Pete Carroll should anoint Corp as the guy heading into summer are pretty clear.

First, no quarterback is better equipped to handle the offense in offseason workouts. Without coaches present, the quarterback assumes a massive leadership position during the summer.

He's the one telling receivers what routes to run, he's organizing the throwing sessions and he'd making sure the players keep their intensity levels high.

Corp's quietly asserted himself as a leader on the offense according to several sources inside the USC locker room. While Corp doesn't have the same rah-rah mentality of Mark Sanchez, Corp's got the offense's respect.

Secondly, Corp's proven he can move the offense down the field.

Corp's ability to scramble is the biggest weapon he possesses. He's not a run-first quarterback, but Corp seems to be learning when to tuck the ball and take off. As he hones this skill, he should be able to pick up five or six yards at will. The threat that he can make a big play with his feet always exists, and that's a lot for a defense to handle.

Sure, Corp's taken more sacks than any other quarterback this spring, but I think that's happened for a couple of reasons. He's taken plenty of reps against USC's best defensive line, and he may have been more concerned with showing coaches he could throw. Because he wanted to showcase his arm, Corp may have stayed in the pocket too long.

Lastly, Corp has the one quality that USC coaches want more than any other. Corp takes care of the football.

He's faced the toughest USC defenses all spring, and Corp still hasn't thrown an interception. His critics might say he looks to check down too often, but maybe that's not a bad thing.

With the way the USC team appears to be shaping up, a controlled offensive attack might be the best plan. The Trojan defense has looked good this spring, but the group is still relatively inexperienced.

Keeping them off the field by picking up yards in relatively small chunks could be a key part of USC's success in 2009.

Knowing what I know and seeing what I've seen, there's only one clear choice to be made this week. Corp should be named the starter.

The numbers may lean in Barkley's favor, but the intangibles Corp possesses more than make up the difference.


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