Matt Barkley mania might be on hold for the weekend.
The true freshman quarterback was held out of practice all week because of a bruised shoulder that is still limiting his throwing ability. Barkley threw the ball gingerly in practice on Thursday but was limited in his flexibility and motion.
All signs point to Aaron Corp leading No. 3 USC (2-0) into Seattle on Saturday to face Washington (1-1) at Husky Stadium at 12:30 p.m. Corp took all of the first-team snaps at Thursday’s practice and looked comfortable in his new role.
A start against the Huskies would be a career first for Corp, who was named the starter in the spring before losing the position prior to the season opener.
But USC coach Pete Carroll has not ruled out the possibility of Barkley playing on Saturday and refused to name a starter Thursday.
“Aaron’s taken all the work with the ones so far, and he’s ready to go,” Carroll said. “We’ll just go ahead and take it to Friday and Saturday, all the way up to the game.”
Taylor Mays and Joe McKnight are also on the mend for the Trojans. Mays did not practice during the week because of a sprained knee, but the senior safety said Thursday that he would play so long as he was comfortable in pregame warm-ups on Saturday.
McKnight missed Wednesday’s practice with migraines but has also been battling the flu, sidelining him Thursday.
“The other guys who have had that came back in a couple days, so he should be back tomorrow,” Carroll said.
Before the Trojans’ mounting injuries grabbed headlines, most of the week’s focus centered on the clash between Carroll and former USC offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian, who is now Washington’s head coach. When Sarkisian accepted the head coaching position at Washington following USC’s regular season finale last year against UCLA, Carroll wished him well.
Then Carroll threw down the gauntlet.
“We’re coming after him, I want you to know that,” Carroll said immediately after singing the praises of his former coach.
Nine months later, the competitive juices are still flowing between Carroll and Sarkisian. Despite the vastly different states of the coaches’ two teams, there will be plenty of similarities between the two sides when they meet.
Sarkisian brought former USC defensive coordinator and defensive line coach Nick Holt to Washington to take the same position. Secondary coach Demetrice Martin, as well as several other coaches and administrators, made the move from Los Angeles to Seattle as well.
The familiarity between the two staffs could lead to increased attention to every tactical move.
“When you know the information that we have and they know that, you have to cover yourself because they know all the stuff that you’re trying to do,” Carroll said. “We know what they’re trying to do.”
But both sides have downplayed the rivalry angle throughout the week, instead electing to emphasize their own team’s performances.
“Our focus is the same — it’s still all about us,” said quarterbacks coach Jeremy Bates, who took over Sarkisian’s position and play-calling duties.
Sarkisian was selected to rebuild a program that went 0-12 last year, becoming the first winless team in Pac-10 history. The Huskies extended their losing streak to 15 games after dropping their opener to LSU but got their first win against Idaho last week with a 42-23 win against the Vandals.
The return of junior quarterback Jake Locker has afforded Sarkisian a key weapon that former coach Tyrone Willingham had to do without for most of last season after Locker broke his thumb in the team’s fourth game. The dual-threat phenom missed the Huskies’ game against USC in the Coliseum and the Trojans cruised to a 56-0 win.
But Locker showed enough as a freshman to make a believer out of Carroll, who fawned over the Huskies signal-caller all week leading up to the game.
“I don’t think there is a better player than Jake Locker that we play,” Carroll said. “He’s a guy that really carries the program. There aren’t many guys like that.”
The Trojans might also face inclement weather during a game for the first time in nearly two years. As of Thursday, there was a 60 percent chance of rain estimated for Saturday’s game in Seattle.