In this case it
was Mark, who had been testing his knee. "I think I can practice
today!" he declared. To be safe, the trainers sat him for 11 days. But that
pep, that eagerness to get back into the fray, is vintage Sanchez. When he
finally returned to the huddle, it gave the offense a palpable lift. "I'm
not saying there won't be times when he'll get too pumped," says Carroll.
"But I like his way."
The coach is also
delighted by Sanchez's ability to move in the pocket, to spin and scramble and
buy time to keep a play alive. On his final touchdown pass last Saturday,
Sanchez felt pressure from his right. Carroll provides the play-by-play:
"Big blitz coming, we pick it up—kind of. We've got guys on guys, but it's
starting to break down. [Sanchez] moves, like he might have to avoid the rush,
then realizes he doesn't have to and boom, fires a touchdown pass. As opposed
to what he could have done."
As opposed, in
other words, to taking a sack, or throwing the ball away, as might have
happened in the recent past. But it's 2008. The Trojans' defense is ferocious,
and the offense, as Carroll says, is fun again—not a good thing for USC's
opponents. These guys are never more dangerous than when they're having