After spotlighting Joe McKnight and Rey Maualuga over the past couple days, we finish up our Eyes on the Enemy mini-series with a look at USC QB Mark Sanchez.
The 6'3" junior will be searching for his first signature win following a 2007 campaign that saw him go 2-1 in place of injured starter John David Booty. Sanchez was at the helm in a close win over Arizona and a blowout victory over a hapless Irish squad before losing a tight one at Oregon the following week.
His QB ratings were up and down (54.5, 109.0, 79.0) and he compiled a pedestrian TD/INT ratio of 7 to 4 with three sacks. Further, the scrimmage against ND served as a true stat padder with Sanchez recording 4 TDs against zero picks.
Sanchez came out slinging in the 2008 season opener completing 26/35 for 338 yards and 3 TDs against 1 pick in the blowout of Virginia. More importantly for Trojan fans, Sanchez showed no ill effects from a dislocated kneecap suffered back in early August.
Out of Mission Viejo High School, Sanchez was the top rated QB in the nation in 2005 and he chose USC over a host of schools including Ohio State. After a redshirt 2005 season, Sanchez rode the pine in '06 after riding a USC co-ed who would later falsely accuse him of sexual assault.
A prototype drop back passer, the key to defending Sanchez is to get "boxed" pressure. To classify him as immobile would be incorrect because he has good feet enabling him to move laterally in the pocket however he would prefer to move to avoid pressure or create a throwing lane versus moving with the intent of tucking and turning upfield.
Last year's loss at Oregon saw Sanchez throw two picks in the 4th quarter to secure the defeat.
While his potential can't be argued, it can safely be stated that he's yet to really prove anything against elite competition. If the Buckeyes can get pressure, especially without the aid of a blitz, OSU could find themselves in position to escape the Coliseum with a signature win of their own.