When the 2012 season ended, Max Wittek was listed as the starting quarterback at the University of Southern California Trojans and indeed started the Notre Dame game and then subsequently, the Sun Bowl due to Matt Barkley’s injuries (source: USA Today). Everyone’s eyes were and are on this competition to observe who would replace Matt Barkley.
Although the coaching staff said at the beginning of spring practice that the competition was open between all three competing quarterbacks, insiders consider the job was Max Wittek’s to lose. Then Wittek was injured over a week ago and now the question is: Can Cody Kessler become the USC Trojans starting quarterback?
Before we go any further, the competition is far from over. Wittek should be back and healthy enough to compete after spring break. Plus everyday that goes by, slowly but surely, incoming super-frosh Max Browne is learning the system and eliminating his mistakes along the way.
First, Kessler’s competition is physically big and strong. His fellow redshirt sophomore Wittek is 6’4” and 235 pounds. Wittek is a big guy and can throw the ball anywhere with heat on it. The freshman Browne needs to fill out at 6’5” and 215 pounds but the tall kid also has a rocket for an arm and can make any throw with ease.
When it comes to superior physicality against his Trojan competition, Kessler won’t win although he’s solidly built. Kessler is a little over 6’1” and weighs in at 215 pounds. He might be a tad more mobile than the other two and admittedly doesn’t have the same bazooka that the other two have for arms, yet he too can make all the throws – his arm is lively. Kessler can make plays on the run, which may give him a slight advantage over his rivals.
However, Kessler won’t wow anyone – at least, not until live snaps in game conditions occur. Then Kessler’s big advantage shows up … he’s a playmaker. And he’s a field general with a take-charge ability in the huddle that helps him rally his teammates. Kessler is more efficient at quarterback than his competition but when you think of a quarterback at USC, big powerful quarterbacks come to mind with Wittek and Browne fitting that mold more than Kessler.
However, Cody Kessler is a winner and every time Trojan head coach Lane Kiffin describes Kessler, he says over and over that Kessler is a gamer. Does that mean he’ll play? Or start?
Undoubtedly, Kiffin is going to wait until just before the team heads off to Hawaii for their first game August 29 at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu. Kessler might actually have the edge right now but that means nothing. Can Cody Kessler be the starting quarterback for USC? He can … but will he?
Additional sources: University of Southern California