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Pete Carroll says he thinks Matt Leinart will thrive as Cardinals' quarterback

March 24, 2010 |  2:12 pm

Carroll_400 Matt Leinart has yet to show any real star power in the NFL, but he will have another chance now that Arizona Cardinals Coach Ken Whisenhunt has named him the unquestioned starting quarterback.

Speaking with reporters at the annual NFL meetings Wednesday, Seattle Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll, who coached Leinart at USC, said he has no doubt Leinart will finally succeed in the pros.

The former Trojans coach said he has seen his former quarterback in this situation before, describing Leinart as "floundering" until he was tagged the Trojans unquestioned starter over Matt Cassell on the last day of spring practice in 2003.

"He had a look in his eye," Carroll said. "He said what I think he probably said to Kenny [Whisenhunt]: 'You'll never regret this, and you'll never have to look back.' And he just flipped and hit the switch."

Of course, we all know what happened next: two national titles, one Heisman Trophy. Carroll said he feels confident Leinart will flip the same switch with the Cardinals now that he doesn't have to worry about competing for the job.

"I think that's what he’s been waiting for," Carroll said. "He's been waiting for that recognition that you are our starting guy, and I think he’s going to be a terrific player. I don’t know him in any other way. I don’t know how to think of him in any other way than he is going to be a great performer for them."

-- Chuck Schilken

Photo: Pete Carroll and Matt Leinart celebrate after Leinart's final game at the Coliseum. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times