USC Has Got Itself a Quarterback Controversy

Aaron Corp is supposed to be the man, but he had better look over his shoulder fast.

Aaron Corp, time to look over your shoulder. Your competition is a lot closer than you think.

Corp is the man supposed to be at the helm of USC’s potentially powerful offense. That offense brings back its entire offensive line, a stable of future NFL running backs (Stafon Johnson, Joe McKnight and C.J. Gable) and good receivers to stretch the field (Damian Williams, Ronald Johnson and Stanley Havili). Corp just had to not crash the bus.

But then in the first day of practice, a lineman fell and rolled up Corp’s leg, mall crack on the head of his left fibula, meaning he will be sidelined at least a week, maybe two. Corp will rehab during that time.

And watch freshman Matt Barkley make a strong bid for his job.

Barkley walked into last spring’s USC practice when he should have been having high school senioritis and asking a girl to prom (he left high school early to practice at USC) and within a few days had supplanted Mitch Mustain as the number two quarterback.

And asked to take the reps with the top unit Tuesday, Barkley looked like a guy who belonged there. He earned praise from Pete Carroll for his arm and his poise in the pocket. USC quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates was comparing Barkley’s arm to Jay Cutler and his poise to Peyton Manning. No pressure there, kid.

It’s the poise that matters most — with all the talent around him, whoever is quarterback for USC this season just has to manage the game. Don’t make mistakes, don’t force the ball into coverage, just get the ball to McKnight in space and you’ll look brilliant.

Corp was named the starter in spring ball in part because he did those things. He also is a year older, is physically a little stronger and had a year in the system. One day is not going to cost him his starting job.

But Corp is not Mark Sanchez (who left to be the next Joe Namath). Corp has limited game experience and how he adjusts when Ohio States throws complex blitz packages at him is still a question mark.

If he doesn’t handle it well — either against Ohio State or before in training camp — there is now a guy breathing down his neck for that starting spot. And we all know how much Carroll loves to let the competition and drama unfold.

Let the controversy begin.

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