USC's Sanchez throws with first team, but Carroll won't rule out Booty
LOS ANGELES -- While coach Pete Carroll declined to identify Southern California's starting quarterback before the 13th-ranked Trojans left for Saturday's game at Notre Dame, third-year sophomore Mark Sanchez appears on track to get the call.
John David Booty sat out USC's 20-13 victory over Arizona last weekend because of a broken middle finger on his throwing hand. Sanchez filled in, and completed 19 of 31 passes for 130 yards and one touchdown with two interceptions in his first career start.
"Those guys are both ready to play," Carroll said Thursday after Sanchez and Booty shared time during 11-on-11 drills in practice, although Booty simply handed the ball off when it was his turn.
Wearing a glove, Booty played catch earlier in the day, throwing the ball 20-to-25 yards with ease.
"We decided to rest John today," Carroll said. "We're going to see how he responds to rest and all that. Everything we've had him do, he's done fine. The more rest we give him, the better."
Carroll didn't rule out the possibility of Booty getting the start, but Sanchez has gotten almost all the work with the first unit this week.
Neither quarterback spoke with reporters Thursday. Booty said a day earlier he believed he would be ready to play, and Sanchez said he was confident the first-game jitters he experienced against Arizona wouldn't be a factor at Notre Dame.
"It's my first start on the road. I've got to prepare for that," Sanchez said. "I feel a little more comfortable with the reads."
Booty broke his finger Oct. 6 in the second quarter of USC's shocking 24-23 loss to Stanford, but played the whole game and threw four interceptions in the second half. He hasn't taken a snap from center since, but has said he doesn't see that as a problem.
Neither quarterback actually took snaps during Thursday's workout, starting with the ball in their hands before passing or handing off.
Meanwhile, Carroll said he believes several players who've missed playing time because of injuries will return against Notre Dame, including leading rusher Stafon Johnson, linebackers Brian Cushing and Rey Maualuga, cornerbacks Terrell Thomas and Shareece Wright and offensive lineman Chilo Rachal.
Offensive lineman Sam Baker didn't practice Thursday because of an injured hamstring, but said he was optimistic he'd be able to play.
Notre Dame (1-6) has a 42-31-5 record in a rivalry that began in 1926, but USC (5-1) has won the last five games between the teams by an average of 23.2 points.
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press
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