True freshman quarterback Matt Barkley was unable to throw at practice Wednesday, but the USC coaching staff did not rule out the possibility of his return and refused to name a starter for Saturday’s game at Washington.
Barkley attempted to throw before practice but struggled with the lingering pain of a bone bruise in his right shoulder suffered in last Saturday’s game against Ohio State. Redshirt sophomore Aaron Corp once again took all the first-team snaps and would be the Trojans’ primary option if Barkley is unable to play.
USC coach Pete Carroll refused to put a timetable on a decision, preferring to wait to see if Barkley would be able to throw at today’s practice before making the call.
“We don’t want to blow it out here in practice trying to see if he could throw,” Carroll said.
Corp, who was not made available to the media Wednesday, showed few ill effects of a broken fibula suffered before the season. One of his passes was intercepted by junior cornerback Marshall Jones during the scrimmage portion of practice, but the Villa Park, Calif., native showed his trademark scrambling ability that helped catch the coaching staff’s eyes in the spring.
“He’s 100 percent, his knee is fine,” quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates said. “He’s running around and throwing, so he’s fresh.”
Because of the nature of Barkley’s injury, Carroll said there was nothing that the coaching staff could do but let time take its course.
“It’s obvious that it’s still sore,” Carroll said of Barkley’s shoulder. “There’s not a whole lot they can do for him other than ice it.”
Quarterback Mitch Mustain spent portions of Wednesday’s practice punting, a quirk Carroll installed after watching the redshirt junior kick the ball playfully last Friday in preparation for Ohio State.
Mustain still needs time to prove himself, Carroll said, before he could become a threat for playing time.
“We’re giving him a couple weeks to see what he looks like,” Carroll said. “He’s got a really good leg, so it’s a matter of getting his timing down.”
USC ranks second-to-last in the Pac-10 in punting with a net average of 32.6 yards per punt. Carroll has cited his disappointment with the unit’s production through the first two games, prompting him to reevaluate redshirt junior Billy O’Malley’s status as a starter.
O’Malley remains in the lead for the position, but junior Jake Harfman, who handles kickoffs, is also in the competition. Carroll said he would make a decision about the position after watching film today.
Taylor Mays did not participate in contact drills Wednesday, but Carroll said the senior captain’s health will be evaluated later to determine if he can play against Washington.
Mays suffered a mild sprained knee against Ohio State but is attempting to make his return in his home state of Washington.
“We’ll give him every chance to play on Saturday,” Carroll said.