Quarterback Garrett Green moved up to No. 2 on the depth chart this week, but whether that comes with a seat upgrade on the team charter to Oregon today remains to be seen.
“If I had a nice window seat, I could fall asleep,” Green joked after Tuesday’s practice. “I’d love it. But I’ll probably be smashed between two linemen.”
Green, a junior, is not complaining.
He vaulted ahead of redshirt freshman Aaron Corp and sophomore Mitch Mustain to become starter Mark Sanchez’s backup for Thursday night’s Pacific 10 Conference opener against Oregon State.
Green said his experience as a safety and receiver gives him an advantage when running the offense.
“A lot of stuff I learned as a defensive back definitely carried over and a lot of stuff I learned from playing receiver as far as understanding the routes and understanding the timing definitely helps,” he said.
Elevating Green, however, comes with a cost.
Green is a valuable member of several special-teams units. As Sanchez’s backup, he has been relieved of those roles, weakening a group that also will be without gunner Shareece Wright, who is expected to be out several weeks because of a fractured vertebra.
Still, Coach Pete Carroll and offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian said they moved Green ahead of Corp and Mustain because of his experience in the system.
“To expect those other guys in a year to pick up the whole offense and run it really smoothly, it has never happened like this for us,” Carroll said. “We’re still waiting for it and hoping that it does.”
Green will be the first quarterback in if Sanchez is hurt or does not perform well against the Beavers.
However, if Sanchez were injured and then sidelined for an extended period of the season, Carroll said, “we’d look at the situation a little differently.”
Corp opened the season as the No. 2 quarterback by beating out Mustain in a competition that heated up after Sanchez suffered a knee injury. Corp acknowledged that a subpar performance in practice last week probably allowed Green to grab the spot.
“You don’t want to get demoted,” Corp said, “but it is what it is and I have to work that much harder and play better.”
Though the Trojans are limited to 64 players for conference road games, all four quarterbacks are on the travel roster.
But what was it really?
Carroll, asked repeatedly this week about why it has been tough recently for the Trojans in Corvallis, got a bit edgy as he attempted to set the record straight.
“It wasn’t the air in Oregon,” Carroll said of the Trojans’ 33-31 loss at Reser Stadium in 2006. “It wasn’t the atmosphere, it wasn’t the hills, or the water or any of that stuff. We fumbled the ball.”
The Trojans lost three fumbles in the defeat, a fact that Carroll, Sarkisian and running backs coach Todd McNair emphasized to players this week.
“I was on the sideline that game,” junior tailback Allen Bradford said. “You have to be real serious about taking care of the ball because [Oregon State] goes for the ball every play.”
Tailbacks Marc Tyler and Broderick Green, both redshirt freshmen, were not on the travel roster. Tyron Smith is the only freshman offensive lineman scheduled to make the trip. . . . Lyle Moevao, who played at North Torrance High and El Camino College, will start at quarterback for Oregon State, Beavers Coach Mike Riley said. Riley also said that it was “probably a reach” that Sean Canfield would be available as the backup. . . . USC had to overcome a 13-0 deficit at fog-enshrouded Reser Stadium to defeat Oregon State in 2004. Asked Tuesday if he was going to bring in fog machines for Thursday night’s game, Riley quipped, “They should be arriving here tomorrow.”