Sanchez threw three touchdown passes in his first game as the Trojans' true No. 1 quarterback on Saturday, leading third-ranked Southern Cal to a 52-7 victory against Virginia.
Just more than three weeks removed from a dislocated kneecap that kept him out of practice until this week, Sanchez showed no ill effects. He was 26-for-35 for 338 yards and directed the Trojans on three touchdown drives in the first 11 minutes. They rolled from there.
"It's exciting to know I got one under my belt with this whole knee deal," he said. "I'm back to 100 percent. I feel good and we're ready to start preparing for Ohio State."
While Sanchez plans to spend some of that time continuing the rehabilitation that sparked his remarkable recovery, coach Pete Carroll may use it to tweak some things.
The offense, for example, to make use of Sanchez's resourcefulness in the pocket.
"That's an exciting aspect of our offense that I felt like we didn't have the last couple of years," Carroll said, recalling a play when Sanchez ducked under a pass rusher and stepped into a long ball that hit wide open Ronald Johnson in the end zone for a 49-yard TD play.
"I think we all sense it," Carroll said, "and we've been excited about it."
The Trojans lead 21-0 very quickly and weren't tested, allowing Carroll to keep the offense simple in advance of their home game against the No. 2 Buckeyes in two weeks.
Sanchez, a junior, started three games last season, filling in for the injured John David Booty and going 2-1. Now, Southern Cal is Sanchez's team, and he made that evident in the opener.
The Cavaliers' TD came on Mikell Simpson's 7-yard run late in the first quarter, after a 15-yard roughing the passer flag and a 10-yard pass interference call against the Trojans, but they never threatened again.