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USC's Aaron Corp Deals With Demotion

Aug 30, 2009 – 5:55 PM
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Lonnie White

Lonnie White %BloggerTitle%

Aaron CorpLOS ANGELES -- Less than 30 minutes after USC completed its final preseason game-type scrimmage over the weekend, the scene in a crowded L.A. Coliseum media room spoke volumes about the character of third-year sophomore quarterback Aaron Corp.

While reporters and television cameras swarmed around USC true freshman Matt Barkley -- recently named the team's starting quarterback for the Trojans' season opener against San Jose State next week -- Corp sat at an open table and calmly talked about his new role as Barkley's backup.

"It was tough watching [Barkley work the first-team offense for the first three quarters]," said Corp, who entered training camp as USC's No.1 quarterback but lost his spot after he suffered a cracked tibia the first week of practice. "I definitely wanted to be in there."

This was supposed to be Corp's time. Plain and simple.

After spending a season as a redshirt in 2007, and then as a backup to Mark Sanchez last season, Corp was primed to be the man in 2009 once he won the starting job over Barkley and Mitch Mustain during spring practice.

But things quickly changed for Corp -- USC's top mobile quarterback -- when he injured his left leg in a drill on Aug. 10 that forced him to be sidelined for nearly two weeks. It's during this stage that Barkley emerged.

Although coach Pete Carroll said competition for the starting job was still open once Corp returned to practice last week, Barkley's better overall health seemed to be the deciding factor.

"I said to [Corp] a couple of days ago that when you finally take off [running] and hook slide, then I'll know that you're ready," Carroll said.

When Corp finally got his chance to play in Saturday's scrimmage, he performed well. He completed 5-of-7 passes for 89 yards and broke out of the pocket for two scramble runs.

"He looked at me and kind of gave me that little look, like 'OK?' ", Carroll said about Corp after one of his runs during the scrimmage. "He looked like he's ready to play and to me, having him run like that was an indicator. He took off a couple of times and I didn't blow the whistle because I wanted him to get out there and run a little bit. And he did. I don't think that he's 100 percent, but he looked good moving and showed that he's ready to play football for us."

Corp, who said that he's close to being back at 100 percent, did not look as mobile as he did during the spring but he showed enough spunk to make USC's coaching staff believe that he's capable of playing now.

"Especially on the one when I got to slide," said Corp, who completed 2-of-4 passes for 14 yards in 2008. "I hadn't done that [since the injury], but I was able to show that I could get down and that I could do everything in a game-type situation.

"There weren't any plays out there when I thought I couldn't do something."

For now, Corp's biggest challenge is dealing with the fact that he's USC's No. 2 quarterback after spending the entire offseason as a team leader. Not an easy adjustment for a player still determined to return as a starter.

"I have to practice well and just be ready," Corp said. "[If Barkley had not already been named the starter], we probably would have split the reps a little more, but the decision was made.

"All I can do is keep battling and staying in there."

That only adds to the storyline for Carroll, who's more than happy to have multiple players ready to get the job done at quarterback.

"To me, it's just a great story how he's come back," Carroll said about Corp. "It's a step forward for us."

But that doesn't mean Carroll is ready to move Corp back into a starting role. "No, no, no," Carroll said about that idea.

"I just know how long it's been since he broke his leg."
Filed under: Sports