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Quarterback Job Is Still Up for Grabs

Times Staff Writer

USC’s search for a starting quarterback will continue into the final week of spring practice.

Neither redshirt sophomore Matt Cassel nor redshirt freshman Matt Leinart separated himself from the pack Saturday during a scrimmage that featured some outstanding plays by running back Hershel Dennis and wide receiver Mike Williams, but little else from the offense.

Quarterback Billy Hart, a redshirt freshman, played only one series.

Junior transfer Brandon Hance did not participate because of knee soreness.

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A crowd of several hundred, including dozens of recruits on campus for “Junior Day,” watched as the first-unit defensive line relentlessly pressured the quarterbacks and batted down several passes.

“I would have liked to have come out and thrown four touchdown passes and done the whole thing, but it didn’t work out today,” Cassel said.

Said Leinart: “I didn’t play as well as I have been. I just have to bounce back.”

Coach Pete Carroll and offensive coordinator Norm Chow had hoped to have a No. 1 quarterback in place by the spring game, scheduled for Saturday at the Coliseum.

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Carroll said he would review film before determining how reps would be distributed next week.

“We’ll talk about it over the weekend, come back Tuesday and have a clearer idea,” he said.

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Kennedy Pola, who coaches running backs, is still the point man for special teams. But several assistants are sharing responsibility for the individual units in an attempt to improve last season’s performance.

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Assistant head coach Ed Orgeron, the defensive line coach, is handling the punt return and field-goal block teams. Other coaches and their responsibilities are: Tim Davis (offensive line/field goal), Nick Holt (linebackers/kickoff) and Greg Burns (defensive backs/kickoff return).

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Manuel Wright, a defensive lineman who signed a letter of intent with USC in 2002, said he has received a qualifying score on the Scholastic Assessment Test and will enroll at USC in the summer.


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