USC Trojans to open 2013 Season with Ongoing QB Battle

usc-trojans-quarterback-starterUSC Trojans coach Lane Kiffin knew that he’d have a quarterback battle on his hands entering this season. But he didn’t quite expect the battle to last until the Trojans’ season opener against Hawaii.

Following a full offseason evaluation, Kiffin said that it was too close to call between Max Wittek and Cody Kessler. In fact, the USC coaching staff won’t even pick the nominal starter is until they arrive in Honolulu. So now both sophomores will receive significant playing time against the Rainbow Warriors.

“That really is how well both guys did,” Kiffin said after his decision. “For us, we look at it as a great thing. We’ve got two guys that we feel great about. We don’t feel like we have to limit our offense with either one of them in there. They’ve both done so well, made so many plays.

max-wittek-football“It didn’t show itself that one guy was above the other guy, so we do it all the time with other positions. We’re not going to be stubborn and name a starter just because we’re supposed to, or that’s what we’ve done for 100 years, or whatever that is. We’ve got to do with all of our decisions what’s best for our team.”

When evaluating the quarterbacks, the general consensus is that Wittek has a stronger arm. Plus he has game experience, having started last season’s final two games when four-year starter Matt Barkley was injured. He finished the 2012 season with 388 passing yards, 3 TD’s, 5 INT’s and a 52.2% completion rate.

As for Kessler, he’s considered more mobile than Wittek and is a very resourceful player when plays break down. Kessler also played better in camp this month, which has pushed USC coaches to a high level of indecisiveness.

Playing two quarterbacks in the opener wasn’t the way that Kiffin wanted to start the 2013-14 college football season. So he set out to pick a starter between Wittek, Kessler and touted freshman Max Browne. The latter was taken out of the mix halfway through August’s camp, which left Kessler and Wittek fighting for the starting job.

Now, the most important position on the field is much like the rest of USC’s depth chart – full of spots where multiple players will play. Tailback and fullback are two other notable positions where duel starters have been named.

cody-kesslerKiffin will definitely be hoping that his depth can translate into more victories from the previous season. After a promising 6-1 start for the preseason number one-ranked team, they stumbled the rest of the year, losing five out of their last six contests.

In 2013, the Trojans open with a #24 ranking and a lot less pressure. They don’t play a preseason-ranked team until October 19th, when they travel to South Bend to face #14 Notre Dame. Other difficult ranked opponents include #25 Oregon State (away), #4 Stanford (home) and #21 UCLA (home).

How the quarterback situation plays out will go a long ways towards determining how the USC Trojans handle these opponents, and if they can get to a major bowl game.

College Football Power Rankings for Nov. 21st, 2012

For the past few weeks, we’ve been discussing the possibility of several unbeaten teams at the end of the season. But just like many other years in the past, most of these unbeatens have fallen by the wayside with Oregon and Kansas State joining the one-loss club. So how does this affect our power rankings? Let’s take a look right now….

1. Notre Dame (11-0) – If the BCS system was based on pretty victories, Notre Dame wouldn’t be in the top 10. But as it stands, the Irish have found a way to win every game and are one of only two unbeaten teams in college football – and one of them is ineligible for bowl games. All that stands in between the Irish and the title game is a tough road game against USC.

Last Game: 38-0 win over Wake Forest
Next Game: at USC Trojans

2. Alabama (10-1) – Just a week after the Crimson Tide wondered if they’d have any shot at a national title, they’re back in control of their own destiny. But don’t confuse controlling destiny with having a clear shot to the title. A potential SEC Championship game against Georgia looms within the next two weeks.

Last Game: 49-0 win over Western Carolina
Next Game: vs. Auburn Tigers

3. Oregon Ducks (10-1) – The Ducks were rolling towards a national title game, and suddenly, they might not even win the Pac-10 North. Now Oregon is going to be rooting for UCLA to beat Stanford just so they have a shot at the Pac-10 Championship. An upcoming game against the Beavers is certainly not going to be easy for the Ducks either.

Last Game: 17-14 (OT) loss to Stanford
Next Game: at Oregon State Beavers

4. Georgia (10-1) – Who would have thought that Georgia would be in the national title picture at this point? Assuming they can beat a solid Georgia Tech team, the Bulldogs actually have a shot at a BCS title if they can beat Alabama….but that’s a big IF!

Last Game: 45-14 win over Georgia Southern
Next Game: vs. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

5. Texas A&M (9-2) – The Aggies are by far our favorite two-loss team since they managed to prove that Alabama wasn’t as unbeatable as everybody thought. QB Johnny Manziel appears to be a Heisman trophy front runner now as well.

Last Game: 47-28 win over Sam Houston State
Next Game: vs. Missouri Tigers

6. Ohio State Buckeyes (11-0) – Despite an undefeated record, nobody considers Ohio State to be the nation’s best team thanks to a fairly easy schedule. Even still, they’ve found ways to win and could top off an undefeated year by beating hated rival Michigan.

Last Game: 21-14 (OT) win over Wisconsin
Next Game: vs. Michigan Wolverines

7. LSU (9-2) – The Tigers appear to be the SEC’s odd team out with a pair of losses. Even with this being the case, a victory at Arkansas could put them in an at-large BCS bowl game.

Last Game: 41-35 win over Ole Miss
Next Game: at Arkansas Razorbacks

8. Florida State (10-1) – It’s funny how little respect the Seminoles have gotten despite having just one loss. Much of this lack of respect comes from a mediocre ACC and a poor out-of-conference schedule. All of this could be thrown out the window though if Florida State wins against Florida this week.

Last Game: 41-14 win over Maryland
Next Game: vs. Florida Gators

9. Kansas State Wildcats (10-1) – The Wildcats take a major tumble in our power rankings thanks to a beating at the hands of Baylor. Nobody expected the Bears to win against K-State, much less dominate them. QB Collin Klein’s Heisman hopes are now finished and so are the Wildcats national championship aspirations.

Last Game: 52-24 loss to Baylor
Next Game: vs. Texas Longhorns (Dec. 1st)

10. Stanford (9-2) – The Cardinals make their first appearance in our top 10 after a dramatic overtime victory against Oregon. And they could be climbing further with wins over UCLA (to clinch Pac-10 North) and a PAC-10 Championship victory against UCLA again.