Autzen Stadium is among the loudest venues in college football, a factor that will come into play for USC regardless of whether sophomore Mark Sanchez or senior John David Booty starts at quarterback Saturday against Oregon.
After playing at Notre Dame, Sanchez said Monday that he was prepared for the Autzen Stadium challenge if Coach Pete Carroll tabs him as the starter for a third consecutive game.
“This past week was a great experience for me versus a tough crowd,” said Sanchez, who passed for four touchdowns without an interception in the Trojans’ 38-0 victory over the Fighting Irish. “At least in that first quarter, they were hollering and we had to call a couple timeouts.”
Sanchez took all of the first-team snaps Monday as Booty rested his broken right middle finger.
Booty said the numbness in the tip of the finger had dissipated and that he would throw passes today without the receivers’ glove he wore for protection during practice last week.
Carroll reiterated that he was in no hurry to make a decision about who will start for the ninth-ranked Trojans against the fifth-ranked Ducks. He also indicated again that Booty would probably need at least another week to be completely healed.
“We just have to see if he can be effective and if he can do what he needs to do and the things we’re asking him,” Carroll said.
Asked whether he would be angry if he were healthy and did not start against the Ducks, Booty said, “I’d be frustrated that I wasn’t because I don’t like watching from the sidelines.”
Sanchez is not eager to give up his role as the starter.
“Once you get the nod it totally changes, like a heavyweight fighter -- you win the title and that’s it, you don’t want to look back and you don’t want to change,” Sanchez said. “That’s the way I feel and I’m working to keep the job.”
Against Notre Dame, Sanchez wore a mouth guard that featured the colors of the Mexican flag, which was made at his request by the team dentist.
“He put the eagle with the snake on it -- it was looking sweet so I had to wear it,” said Sanchez, who is of Mexican descent.
Sanchez said he took pride in the influence his role as USC’s quarterback could have on youngsters.
“When I see little kids after the game and they’re Mexican like me . . . they see hope,” said Sanchez, who attended Mission Viejo High. “That means a lot to me playing for them, playing for my community and this greater L.A.
“I really take that to heart and I think the mouthpiece is just a portrayal of that.”
Sanchez added, “It’s not a Mexican power thing or anything like that. It’s just a little bit of pride in our heritage. Hopefully, it inspires somebody and it’s all for the best.”
Sanchez said he enjoyed supportive gestures from USC fans. One wore a serape and others have donned wrestling masks.
“That’s fun. I love it. It’s just all part of it,” Sanchez said. “The band’s going to start playing, ‘Lean Like a Cholo,’ or something. Sweet.”
Charles Brown and Kris O’Dowd were among a group of offensive lineman that practiced for the first time in several weeks. But of senior tackle Sam Baker, Carroll said, “I don’t know if he’ll make it or not,” for the Oregon game. USC officials have said that Baker suffered a hamstring strain against Arizona. Asked whether it was a more serious injury, Carroll said, “I don’t know. . . . It’s significant though.”
USC practiced on the artificial turf at Cromwell Field, but it will practice the rest of the week on its grass fields, Carroll said. The field at Autzen Stadium is an artificial surface.