It has been five weeks since Aaron Corp last felt like USC’s starting quarterback.
On Tuesday, with freshman Matt Barkley held out of passing drills again because of a bone bruise in his right shoulder, Corp at least looked the part, taking all of the first-team snaps and running the offense with only one notable mistake.
“I’m ready,” Corp said. “I was ready last week, ready two weeks ago. So I’ll be ready if they need me.”
Coach Pete Carroll, however, reiterated that he had no fixed timeline to make a decision about who will start Saturday’s Pacific 10 Conference opener at Washington.
“There is no written rule on how to do this in our program,” Carroll said. “You do it based on information you get, your gut feeling and all the rest of it.”
Corp, a third-year sophomore who finished spring practice No. 1 on the depth chart, has been waiting for a chance to reclaim the job that slipped from his grasp after he suffered a cracked fibula on the third day of training camp.
Corp had a pass intercepted by defensive back Josh Pinkard on Tuesday but otherwise completed the vast majority of his throws and showed the mobility that makes him a dual threat.
“I’m excited to practice right now,” Corp said. “This is my chance to show off.”
Barkley, who started the first two games and directed USC’s winning drive last week at Ohio State, took snaps in several drills but only handed off the ball after attempting to throw earlier in the day.
“I tried this morning and it was pretty bad,” Barkley said, citing pain and restricted motion. “I can’t really bring my shoulder back.”
Barkley is hoping daily therapy and medication will help reduce swelling so that doctors will clear him to throw, and play against Washington.
“I personally think I could play without any practice, but I don’t know how well that would sound” to Carroll, said Barkley, who added that he would try to practice today.
Barkley said he was not worried about losing the starting job if he were forced to sit out Saturday’s game.
Asked how he was able to continue against Ohio State after he was injured in the third quarter, Barkley said, “Adrenaline, God’s hand on me -- I don’t know. It hurt like hell, but when you’re in that moment you kind of forget about that stuff and you just kind of play.”
As Barkley’s situation remained up in the air, Corp made his pitch to make the first start of his career.
“He looked sharp,” Carroll said. “He had a good day today and I made a note of it.
“That’s an indication of how we expect guys to step up . . . and come out and have a big day and show that we don’t skip a beat.”
All-American safety Taylor Mays was outfitted with a brace for his sprained right knee, but he did not practice and said his availability for Saturday might be a game-time decision.
“I played with braces on my teeth but not a knee brace,” Mays said. “I never had a brace like this. This is clunky, like an offensive lineman.”
Mays said he could play against the Huskies without practicing. Carroll agreed, citing the senior’s experience as a four-year starter.
If Mays cannot play, sophomore Drew McAllister would start in his place if he can work through a hip injury. Sophomore Marshall Jones also was moved from cornerback to safety to provide depth, especially with travel rosters limited to 64 players for conference games.
Offensive tackle Charles Brown was absent again because of flu, Carroll said. . . . Reserve quarterback Garrett Green worked at receiver to provide depth.