Corp is sharp in intrasquad matchup
Given his somewhat tenuous perch atop the depth chart as USC’s starting quarterback, Aaron Corp has reduced his goals to their lowest common denominator.
“Just come out and show the coaches that they made the right decision so far,” Corp said.
So far, so good.
Corp gave a steady if unspectacular performance in the Trojans’ intrasquad game at the Coliseum on Saturday, a glorified scrimmage that finished off a month of spring practices.
Before a crowd announced at 22,565, the Cardinal squad defeated the White squad, 16-10, but the score was less interesting than several small skirmishes taking place on the field.
Corp took care of business by throwing for 157 yards, including an eight-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Cameron, and breaking loose on several well-timed scrambles.
“I thought he played really solid,” Coach Pete Carroll said.
That seemed good enough on a day when his competition did nothing to gain ground.
Mitch Mustain failed to impress while passing for 85 yards with an interception. As has been the case too often this spring, freshman Matt Barkley looked impressive at times but had two throws intercepted.
“I think that the picks kind of tarnished it,” he said.
With tailback Joe McKnight continuing to recuperate from a foot injury, Saturday offered a chance for several of USC’s multiple tailbacks to stake a claim for more attention in the fall.
Veteran C.J. Gable led all rushers with 53 yards despite limited carries and Marc Tyler had 44 yards and a short touchdown run. But Curtis McNeal, who had a good spring, ended up with only seven yards in eight carries.
“For whatever reason he couldn’t get going,” Carroll said, adding that as far as the tailback rotation was concerned, “I don’t think much changed today.”
On the whole, Carroll seemed lukewarm about the offense -- too many sloppy throws, he said -- though a strong pass rush had something to do with that.
The defensive line spent a good portion of the afternoon in the backfield, led by redshirt freshman Nick Perry’s seven tackles and four sacks.
It was a noteworthy performance for a defensive end who has not quite lived up to expectations and was disappointed by his position down the depth chart.
With the White squad driving inside the 10-yard line for a winning score, Perry sacked Mustain to end the game.
“I knew my chance would come,” Perry said. “Keep working hard and eventually everything will work out.”
Several other reserves had a good day on defense, end Wes Horton collecting two sacks, safety Ryan McMahon making five tackles and Marshall Jones intercepting a pass.
“Marshall’s been making some plays in the second half of spring,” Carroll said. “When he’s been out there, he’s been very productive.”
Even with all the action on the field, perhaps the biggest cheers of the day were reserved for NFL draft updates shown on the stadium’s video board.
Fans weren’t the only ones who noticed. Players watched as former teammates were selected in the first round.
“It’s always good that guys can take me out to dinner when they come back,” offensive lineman Jeff Byers said.
Corp said he was thrilled when the New York Jets made last season’s starter, Mark Sanchez, a first-round selection.
If nothing else, he’d rather have Sanchez in the NFL than returning as a senior.
“I’d say so, yeah,” Corp said.
Now all he has to do is hold onto the No. 1 spot. Saturday was a first step.
Joe Houston and Jordan Congdon, two field goal kickers who will continue to vie for the starting job this fall, had two field goals and an extra point each. . . . Defensive tackle Averell Spicer injured a shoulder but Carroll said it wasn’t serious. The coach reported no other injuries.