Q: Who is the next great USC offensive player to be an All American and Sportscenter type big name in the company of Palmer, Leinart,White and Bush. I would think McKnight, Gable, Sanchez,Williams, Bradford, Johnson or McCoy can star in that role and be the superstar. Davis, last season was real close, but he never could. What is your opinion. Is this what is lacking in these teams that there is no go to guy when the offense needs points?
A: Joe McKnight is far and away the top candidate to become a highlight favorite, especially after his Rose Bowl. But he needs to become a consistent threat and last year wasn’t able to perform consistently. Can he do it this year? That’s a big question although he should be much better than last season. And he cannot fumble like he did last season or he’ll negate his big-play impact. I don’t see the maturity right now that Reggie Bush had (as a player) and being declared ineligible halfway through spring was a small red flag. But after McKnight, there is a big dropoff. Stafon Johnson occasionally breaks a long run and then I’d say Vidal Hazelton and Ronald Johnson would be the top candidates at wide receiver. However these are all big question marks right because they have not done it much so far.
Q: If Sanchez is still the starter after fall camp (for the sake of argument) and then loses the first two games of the season, will Pete Carroll then make a decision to replace him with Mitch Mustain? Will Carroll allow the team to start 0-2 for the first time since he became coach? Will margin of defeat or number of losses be a factor in making a quarterback change? Will Carroll allow the team to keep losing out of loyalty to the quarterback or will he pull the hook on Sanchez if the team struggles?
A: Pete Carroll will be resistant to change because it’s a sign of weakness. But if, as you say, USC’s starts 0-2, it will depend more on how the quarterback performs than the record. If the running game struggles or the offensive line cannot protect the quarterback, then no change will be made. But if things are clearly traced to the quarterback, then you could see a change. A more likely scenario would probably be Matt Leinart’s first year, when he injured his knee against Arizona State. Matt Cassel replaced him and struggled and then Brandon Hance warmed up at halftime on the sidelines. He was going to get a try but Leinart came rushing from getting his knee treated in the locker room and made it back for the start of the third quarter. If Leinart did not come back and Hance flourished, who knows what would have happened?