Booty's finger getting better with Oregon coming up

Updated: October 24, 2007, 10:33 PM ET
Associated Press

LOS ANGELES -- John David Booty threw extensively without problems for the second straight day in practice Wednesday, prompting Southern California coach Pete Carroll to say the senior quarterback is "real close."

Booty sat out USC's last two games because of a broken middle finger on his throwing hand and was replaced by Mark Sanchez.

"If we were playing today, Mark would have started," Carroll said. "I'm kind of surprised John felt so good today. We'll see what happens. He doesn't have full command yet. He could certainly function."

Carroll said he wasn't sure when he'd pick a starting quarterback for Saturday's game at Oregon between the ninth-ranked Trojans and fifth-ranked Ducks. It will be the first matchup between top 10 teams in the 41-year history of Autzen Stadium.

"I really feel good," Booty said. "The pain's going away, I'm getting feeling back in it. I feel like I threw better today than I did yesterday -- accuracy, timing, velocity. My arm feels great, I feel as strong as I've been. It's just this little part of my body that's messed up."

When asked if he thought he'd be well enough to start Saturday, Booty replied: "I can't tell you guys how much I would love to be out there. It means the world to me. That's Coach Carroll's decision. I'm getting closer. I've just got to keep working at it, icing it."

Offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian said the most important thing was how Booty responds in the days ahead.

"You've got to look at the long haul here -- how he's responding daily and evaluate him accordingly," Sarkisian said. "I think he's learning to deal with the pain of it. It's good to have two good quarterbacks."

Sanchez said while he hopes to get the start, he'll accept Carroll's decision.

"Whatever happens happens," said Sanchez, a third-year sophomore who passed for 130 yards and one touchdown with two interceptions in a 20-13 victory over Arizona and 235 yards and four TDs with no interceptions in a 38-0 triumph at Notre Dame.

"Of course I want to play," Sanchez said. "I've wanted to play since I was a freshman when Matt [Leinart] was here. If it's not me, I'll be his biggest cheerleader."

Carroll also said he was encouraged concerning left tackle Sam Baker (hamstring) and right guard Chilo Rachal (knee) -- two key members of the offensive line.

"They would have played in the game today," Carroll said. "We'll see how they feel tomorrow."


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press