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Tuesday, October 7, 2003
Trojans again have backup plan at quarterback


LOS ANGELES -- Matt Leinart shook off knee and ankle injuries to lead Southern California to victory over Arizona State, and the quarterback insists he will be able to play this weekend against Stanford.

USC coach Pete Carroll still is making contingency plans for when the ninth-ranked Trojans (4-1, 1-1 Pac-10) face the Cardinal (2-1, 0-1) at the Coliseum on Saturday.

"We have a situation at quarterback and we don't know yet how Matt Leinart is going to be," Carroll said Tuesday. "We did not let him run around yesterday, so we'll see how he does today and tomorrow.

"Then we'll try and make an assessment. He had a minor ankle sprain with a couple of injuries left over from last week."

Redshirt junior Matt Cassel went 4-of-10 for 42 yards in the second quarter of the 37-17 win over Arizona State while Leinart was receiving treatment in the locker room. Brandon Hance, another redshirt junior, was slated to play in the third quarter, but Leinart came back to help the Trojans erupt for 27 second-half points.

Leinart, a redshirt sophomore, finished 13-of-23 for 289 yards and two touchdowns.

Carroll said the plan will be the same as it was last week after Leinart was banged up in the loss at California, and Cassel and Hance got extra work during practice.

"We've said all along that we would play both (Cassel and Hance) if the opportunity arose. It didn't really happen that way last week, but Hance would have played in the second half had Matt Leinart not returned," the coach said. "We'll just stay on course as we planned because they both deserve playing time.

"They both deserve the chance to show what they can do. So it is still the same status."

Both Cassel and Hance have had limited playing time. Cassel has gone 6-of-13 for 63 yards this season, and Hance has thrown just two passes, with one completion for 13 yards. Neither has been intercepted nor thrown a touchdown pass.

Carroll was pleased with the Trojans' defense in the second half against Arizona State in a game tied 10-10 at halftime.

USC limited the Sun Devils to 3 yards rushing after halftime -- and 61 for the game -- and kept pressure on ASU quarterback Andrew Walter. The Trojans finished with five sacks.

"I think we really played well in the second half and got stronger as the game went on," Carroll said. "For one, we're seeing Shaun Cody at full speed now.

"He has not always been 100 percent since he's been back and has not always been able to hang in there though practices and games. But the last two weeks have been his best two weeks by far. He helps everyone else play well."

Cody, a junior, tore knee ligaments midway through last season and didn't rejoin the team until this fall.