*QB Aaron Corp has been throwing in 7-7 drills the past few days and has looked solid. The coaches have been happy with his accuracy and most importantly, his swagger. He appears confident and is showing good leadership skills despite being out with a cracked fibula. He will return to full practice next week. It will be interesting to see how his mobility looks as that seems to be the only thing that concerns the coaches regarding Corp. If Corp is even just 90% going into San Jose State I think he will get the start. The coaches are more comfortable with Corp’s command of the offense and trust him to make the right throw depending on the situation. It will really come down to his health and how he performs the next two weeks.
*Freshman QB Matt Barkley has had a tough week following his 5-18 scrimmage performance in which Coach Carroll threw him into the fire against a heavy rush and disguised coverage’s. The hope was that Barkley would bounce back fairly quickly from the performance but even Coach Carroll admits the expectations for Matt from everybody, coaches included, might have been too high.
The spotlight shined very bright on Matt since Corp went down and he has received nearly every first team snap to get him ready. In the process, they may have overloaded him. However, all this work will pay off in a big way for him in the future. He may have struggled but he never quit and has handled himself “beautifully” as Coach Carroll would say. Barkley will continue to get opportunities and may see significant time in the San Jose State game in a “platoon” situation. He has so much talent and moxie that they want to get him on the field sooner rather than later.
Also, the coaches have not ruled out the thought of a “platoon” system this year while they bring along Barkley. Carroll says he is opened to it but I don’t think it fits his coaching style. We’ll see… it worked with Chris Leak and Tim Tebow at Florida.
In the meantime, if Corp heals properly from his injury, in the near term, Corp gives the program the best chance to win.
Running Back situation after the jump…
*The running back stable: Most of the Running Back’s have had a very solid camp. The media is not talking very much about this group due to the focus on the quarterback situation. However, this stable of runners may have to carry the offense. Should the quarterback position struggle early on, they will be asked to carry the load in a big way behind that offensive line. The good news is they are more than capable of doing it. Once again, Alan Bradford has had a great camp. The question is whether that will lead to significant carries. He always seems to step up in fall practice but is sort of the forgotten one in the backfield rotation no matter what he does. I hope his hard running style and team first attitude (which you clearly see in his special teams play) is rewarded this year. The problem is that Stafon Johnson, CJ Gable, Joe Mcknight, Marc Tyler and Curtis McNeal (and I am probably forgetting one) are all extremely talented. The embarrassment of riches continues at the position ever since Reggie Bush and Lendale White made nightly appearances on ESPN during their USC playing days.
Joe Mcknight has had his best camp since being at USC. He is healthy and showing the quickness that drew comparisons to Reggie Bush when he was in high school. He has not quite lived up to those expectations but as long as he is healthy this should be a good year for him. New offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates should do a better job of not forcing it to Mcknight when he gets into the game and allowing him to be in a rhythm. The main concern with Mcknight is he still has trouble holding onto the ball, hence, his third spot on the punt return rotation.
Stafon Johnson continues to be very solid and I think he will receive the majority of the snaps early in the season followed by Mcknight, Gable and either Bradford or Tyler. Curtis McNeal might end up being better than Mcknight but will probably have to wait his turn with 4 backs in front of him.
From a consistency standpoint it would be nice for SC to develop a 1-2 punch with Johnson and Mcknight with a little bit of Bradford or Gable mixed in instead of rotating 4 to 5 guys in at a time. However, I understand the urge to play as many guys as possible since they all bring big play ability to the table. It will be interesting to see how everything plays out. With the offensive line as strong as it is, it would not surprise me if SC pulled off 2 to 3 400 yard rushing games.
*The Defensive line is a little banged up with the losses of Spicer and Armstead. Spicer should be back within the next two weeks but Armstead is out 6 to 8 weeks with a broken foot. Wes Horton is in the lead to replace him but Malik Jackson will also challenge for the spot. JC transfer Hebron Fangrupo seems to have tied up Spicer’s spot until he returns.
*The Offensive line received some good news yesterday when All American Center Kris O’Dowd received word that he would only be out about 3 weeks with his dislocated kneecap. No surgery will be required and the MRI showed his knee looked fine otherwise.
*Punt return depth chart: Damian Williams, Stafon Johnson, Joe Mcknight.
*Defensive End James Boyd has been moved to the Tight End spot to provide depth for Blake Ayles, Anthony McCoy and Rhett Ellison. Ayles should be back to practice on Sunday or Monday after having a procedure done to fix his irregular heartbeat issue.