Corp taking big hits off the field
The USC quarterback is getting ridiculed by fans and treated indifferently by his coach.
http://www.ocregister.com/articles/corp ... back-coach
LOS ANGELES — Six weeks ago, he looked so good that he was the starting quarterback at USC.
On Monday, Aaron Corp was being ridiculed on a national radio show for his physical appearance.
Corp never was sacked in his starting debut Saturday at Washington, but he has been taking shots ever since, some cheaper than others. And some from very close range.
But that's how we've evolved as a society; we've grown by shrinking, our attention spans to our patience to our perspective all shriveling because that's the easier path.
This much is certain: Age 20 is a lot older than it used to be.
Corp did not play well in USC's 16-13 loss to the Huskies, a team the Trojans defeated last fall by eight touchdowns. His performance, in fact, led to the least productive passing game since Pete Carroll took over before the 2001 season.
Since this is USC, which is supposed to win every game, and since he plays quarterback, a position that's supposed to be manned by a Heisman Trophy candidate, Corp is being buried.
"The quarterback threw a pick but could have thrown a couple more," Carroll said Tuesday. "Those were most alarming to me, that we could have had two or three more interceptions in that game."
This, from a coach whose optimism usually is thick enough to pour over pancakes. Carroll later was more encouraging toward Corp, though the coach continued to leave little doubt just how far this sophomore has fallen in a month and a half.
Corp doesn't deserve praise, but does he really deserve this? After one start, his first since Dec. 16, 2006? Against Palo Alto High? After just four quarters that also included his more experienced teammates fumbling four times and being called for eight penalties?
Let's start by remembering something everyone seems to have forgotten. Corp is still dealing with the affects of a broken leg. A broken leg!
He didn't suffer a thigh bruise last month or a cut on the pinkie of his non-throwing hand. He cracked his fibula. This was a rather significant occurrence, especially for a quarterback who relies on mobility.
"He needs to get back to full-go," Carroll said. "I don't think his arm strength is there. He's been playing with a broken leg for five weeks now. He has compensated in a way where he's not at his best yet."
In a similar manner, Corp has been denied the chance to stand on two sound legs mentally. Carroll's affinity for Matt Barkley borders on comical. The coach even was asked this week if he has a crush on the freshman.
The atmosphere Carroll has established around his program recently hardly is ideal for the development of a second quarterback. For a guy who loves to encourage competition, Carroll has masterfully discouraged Corp numerous times.
Last week, even as Barkley went day after day of missing practice because of a sore shoulder, Carroll never publicly announced Corp would start against Washington.
It wasn't until trotting onto the field with the first team Saturday that Corp was sure himself.
And why, exactly, didn't Carroll officially back Corp even as he admitted "it was so obvious" who was going to start? That, once again, was for Barkley's benefit, to ensure his mental readiness.
"Specifically, it was to keep Matt alive in the process," Carroll explained. "Aaron knew more than Matt did. If you tell a guy, 'OK, you're not playing,' it's really, really asking too much to have a guy hold that warrior mentality."
Recall that in naming Barkley as the starter in August, the same coach did so more than a week before the opener in order to allow Barkley to prepare his mind. Corp wasn't afforded a similar opportunity.
"That might have helped him, I don't know," Carroll said. "I don't think it would have helped him immeasurably."
Now, hearing his coach's words, what is Corp learning? The same thing we all are, that a healthy enough Barkley is decidedly this team's starting quarterback. From the sounds of it, the gap between the first- and second-stringers from Orange County isn't close.
Carroll expertly has handled the abundance of talent he has recruited to USC the past nine years, finding ways to keep the majority of his skill-position players happy while still using just a single football.
With this quarterback situation, however, he has been ham-handed, at best. Rarely, has the ultra-cool, always-in-charge Carroll appeared this clumsy.
None of this is a knock on Barkley, who has done nothing more here than impress the heck out of his head coach. By the end of the season, maybe we'll all be seeing what Carroll already evidently has seen.
And Corp doesn't need anyone's sympathy. This is his third year in a program that forces its players to grow up quickly or be crushed.
It's just that we think he deserves better, deserves more. We know he certainly doesn't deserve this.