USC's Booty works with first unit, aims to get starting job back

Updated: October 29, 2007, 11:40 PM ET
Associated Press

LOS ANGELES -- John David Booty worked with the first unit Monday and appears on track to get his job back as the starting quarterback of Southern California (No. 19 BCS, No. 13 AP).

"We'll take it one day at a time, see if he makes it through the week," USC coach Pete Carroll said after practice. "He feels great -- the best he's felt, by far. If John feels good and gets through this thing, he'll play this week."

Asked to clarify, Carroll said Booty would start against Oregon State if healthy.

Booty, a fifth-year senior, sat out USC's past three games because of a broken middle finger on his throwing hand and was replaced by third-year sophomore Mark Sanchez.

"By far," Carroll replied when asked if Booty looked better than at any time since breaking his finger in the second quarter of USC's 24-23 loss to Stanford on Oct. 6. Booty threw four interceptions in the second half as the 41-point underdog Cardinal rallied to hand the Trojans their first loss of the season.

"His finger looks better, the ball spun more today than any time [since the injury]," Carroll said. "He's had a great rest, that helped."

Booty had done very little throwing between Wednesday of last week and Monday.

"I've got my velocity back, the ball's spinning again," he said. "Full go all week. Right now, it feels pretty good. I don't know how close the bone is to healing. It's about the pain, that's going down every day. Hopefully it will continue to feel like it feels today."

Sanchez, making the first three starts of his career, passed for 130 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions in a 20-13 victory over Arizona, 235 yards and four TDs with no interceptions in a 38-0 win at Notre Dame and 277 yards and two touchdowns with two interceptions in a 24-17 loss at Oregon (No. 5 BCS, No. 4 AP) on Saturday.

Oregon State (5-3, 3-2) brings a three-game winning streak into Saturday's game at the Los Angeles Coliseum. The Beavers beat the Trojans 33-31 last season in Corvallis, Ore., to snap USC's 27-game Pac-10 winning streak.

The Trojans (6-2, 3-2) are 20-0 in November games since Carroll became their coach before the 2001 season.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press