April 18, 2009

Scrimmage Insider: Corp goes deep

The USC coaches may end up extending the quarterback into the fall, but there is still a bit of a deadline looming for the Trojans.

Saturday's scrimmage at Howard Jones Field may have gone a long way towards the Trojan coaches anointing a starter heading into the summer, and sophomore quarterback Aaron Corp may have grabbed hold of the job.

Corp went 13-of-18 for 170 yards, showcasing a wide range of skills, something quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates wanted to see.

"Jeremy's forcing these guys to show what their range of play is with the play calling and by giving them the opportunities," Pete Carroll said. "I thought we were really aggressive with the throwing game, and guys came through and hit some nice deep over routes."

Corp, and not rocket-armed freshman Matt Barkley, was on the giving end of some deep balls Damian Williams. Making the throws even more important, two deep strikes came on the same drive with the offense down a touchdown.

"He needed to make those throws in that situation. We were down by a touchdown, and we had to come back. We did that in four plays," Williams said. "It was just a great job by Corp stepping up, being the leader and being the general, getting us down the field.

"If anybody had a question about his arm strength, they should be answered by now."

Corp said he didn't feel like he had to prove anything Saturday.

"It's a matter of just being able to see what's there," Corp said. "I didn't think I had to show off my arm strength or anything; I know I can throw deep. I just didn't want to force anything that I shouldn't."

Corp didn't throw a touchdown pass Saturday, but he continued to take care of the ball. Through 12 practices, Corp has still yet to throw a single interception. Corp said his newfound aggression has come from a more confident approach to his own play.

Corp's ability to throw the ball down the field effectively could halt Barkley's momentum. Barkley played well Saturday, completing 15-of-21 passes for 186 yards with a touchdown.

However, he did also throw a screen pass directly to defensive end Malik Jackson, and Jackson returned the pick for a score.

Carroll called the play "kind of a bonehead pick."

"It was just a screen. It was kind of a bad situation to begin with. They didn't get a very good rush, and Malik was kind of sitting there," Barkley said. "I made a bad play by not just throwing it into the ground. I was pissed. I was pretty mad after that."

On his next set of reps, Barkley did lead the offense on a nine-play scoring drive capped with a 14-yard strike to Jordan Cameron.

"I just shook it off and came back and had a scoring drive," Barkley said. "I've been working on that. I'm trying to eliminate mistakes, but if they do happen, I need to move on and get over it."

The clock's also ticking for Mitch Mustain, who had another uneventful day, completing just three-of-six attempts for 33 yards.

Mustain conceded that there's probably not enough time left for him to win the job this spring.

"I don't know," he said. "I'll do what I can with what I get."

Saturday's reps

- Complete to Ronald Johnson.
- Handoff to Stafon Johnson.
- Complete to Stanley Havili, first down.
- Complete to Havili, first down.
- Handoff to Stafon Johnson.
- Sacked by Everson Griffen.
- Handoff to Curtis McNeal, draw.
- Pitch to McNeal.
- Complete to Travon Patterson, quick throw.
- Complete to Williams, rollout, big gain, makes it first-and-goal.
- Handoff to Stafon Johnson.
- Incomplete to Anthony McCoy, Malik Jackson hurry.
- Incomplete to Williams, dropped in end zone, thrown too hard.
- Joe Houston 23-yard field goal, good.

- Pitch to Marc Tyler.
- Complete to David Ausberry.
- Handoff to Tyler, nice gain.
- Complete to D.J. Shoemate, big gain, first-and-goal.
- Pass deflected by Wes Horton, Corp catches it, gets back to line of scrimmage.
- Complete to Shoemate, one-handed catch.
- Incomplete to Brice Butler, deflected by Jordan Campbell.
- Jordan Congdon 22-yard field goal.

- Handoff to McNeal.
- Complete to McCoy, first down.
- Pitch to McNeal, big loss.
- Handoff to McNeal.
- Sacked by Averell Spicer.

John Manoogian
- Intercepted by Justin Hart.
- Handoff to Tyler.
- Complete to Drew Ness.
- Incomplete to Spencer Vigoren.
- Handoff to McNeal, big gain.

- Handoff to Tyler.
- Handoff to Tyler.
- Handoff to Tyler.
- Handoff to McNeal.
- Complete to Ronald Johnson.
- Complete to Williams deep.
- Sacked by Griffen.
- Intercepted by Jackson, returned 42 yards for a touchdown.

- Handoff to Tyler.
- Pitch to Tyler.
- Handoff to Shoemate.
- Complete to Ausberry, nice throw, nice gain.
- Handoff to McNeal, five-yard touchdown run.

- Complete to Patterson.
- Scramble, nice gain.
- Complete to Cameron, nice gain.
- Handoff to Havili.
- Sacked by Griffen.
- Incomplete to Patterson deep.

- Incomplete to Shoemate.
- Scramble.
- Incomplete to Ausberry deep.

- Incomplete to Stafon Johnson.
- Incomplete, deflected and nearly intercepted by Chris Galippo.
- Complete to Ronald Johnson, short of first down.

- Pitch to McNeal; flag for offsides.
- Incomplete, thrown away.
- Complete to Butler, first down.
- Complete to Cameron, long throw.
- Complete to Butler, slant.
- Complete to Butler, quick pass.
- Incomplete, thrown away.
- Complete to Scott Stephens.
- Complete to Cameron, touchdown.

- Sacked by Taylor Mays.
- Sacked by Griffen.
- Handoff to McNeal, nice gain.
- Sacked by Michael Morgan.

- Complete to Stephens.
- Complete to Stephens.
- Handoff to Tyler.
- Complete to Tyler.

- Handoff to Stafon Johnson.
- Complete to Williams, big gain.
- Complete to Williams, big gain sets up first-and-goal.
- Handoff to Stafon Johnson, four-yard touchdown run.

- Complete to Ausberry, first down.
- Handoff to McNeal.
- Sacked by Simmons.
- Complete to Rhett Ellison.
- Incomplete to Butler, under thrown.

- Handoff to Havili.
- Sacked by Spicer and Griffen.
- Complete to Havili.
- Incomplete to Stephens, broken up by Mays hit.
- Handoff to Havili.
- Scramble for first down.
- Incomplete, spiked.
- Complete to Cameron.
- Jordan Congdon 35-yard field goal, good.

Extra Points

• With Charles Brown and Butch Lewis still nursing groin injuries, Matt Kalil and Tyron Smith had another huge workload at offensive tackle.

Kalil said he sat for only one series Saturday.

"This has been a real learning experience. It started in the last scrimmage when Charles went down, and I had to take all those plays," he said. "I wasn't as focused on the plays. I was kind of tired. I've learned how to try and overcome that tiredness.

"I'm in shape now."

• Carroll spoke to his team before Saturday's scrimmage about its role in an important day on the USC campus.

"We had a big time meeting with the team today to get them pumped up, kind of celebrating being out here for the Swim with Mike and the stuff that's going on," Carroll said. "It's a big day on campus. The guys had a really good time with it, and they played like it. There was a lot of energy and enthusiasm."

• Heading into camp, the biggest concerns people had about the Trojans were at linebacker and at quarterback. With one week left of spring practices, Carroll said those positions are now strengths.

"We're getting a lot of good play in the areas where we had questions after losing some guys. That's a positive. It feels really good to be getting something out of spring like that," Carroll said. "The quarterback was a big situation, and those guys are playing. The linebackers were a big situation, and those guys are playing. "

Jeff Byers missed the first half of the scrimmage due to a class.

• Carroll praised all the wide receivers for their play Saturday, saying Jordan Cameron had his best day of work.

• Ronald Johnson returned a kick 96 yards for a touchdown in a special teams period against the second-team coverage unit.

• Bates said he felt the offense looked better than it had in its previous scrimmages.

"I thought we had a little better tempo and a little better flow," Bates said. "We ran the ball early really well. We did some positive things"

• Everson Griffen continued his monster spring by disrupting numerous plays in the backfield.

"We couldn't block Everson," Carroll said. "He was getting off the ball like crazy. He's really getting better and utilizing his speed."

In addition to taking advantage of some young offensive tackles, Griffen might have also discovered another edge, Corp said.

"He comes hard off the edge," Corp said. "I think he's got our snap count a little bit - more power to him. He's a big guy, and he's fast. He's going to be really good for us."

• Bates said the USC defense has been giving the quarterbacks and him some difficult looks, forcing the offense to make even more difficult reads.

"Our defense is incredible," Bates said. "I've seen more blitzes, more fronts and more coverages than you see in the NFL. It's encouraging to move the ball against these guys."

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