USC Football: Quarterback Controversy Update

Rick McMahan@@RickMcMahanSenior Writer ISeptember 3, 2013

USC Football: Quarterback Controversy Update

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    After USC's rather unsatisfying 30-13 win over Hawaii last Thursday, fans of the USC program were left with as many questions as answers regarding who will be the eventual Trojans quarterback.

    With neither Cody Kessler nor Max Wittek enthusiastically making a case to grab the starting gig, head coach Lane Kiffin has been left to his own devices in determining the identity of the guy to lead USC in 2013.

    It appears that Kiffin has made his decision, according to (subscription required), but apparently he finds it necessary to keep those who care about such things in the dark until USC plays Washington State on Saturday.

    In the meantime, we are left with what we saw against Hawaii in terms of drawing our own conclusions regarding USC's signal-caller.

    Here is a look at the progress (or lack thereof) in the Trojans' quarterback battle with one assessment of who should be named the starter.

    While the identity of USC's starter has been determined, but not yet revealed, here are some of the things that went into Kiffin's mysterious decision.

Cody Kessler

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    The collective preseason shouts of the Trojans' fanbase were heard by Lane Kiffin and he responded by naming the popular choice, Cody Kessler, as USC's starting quarterback against Hawaii.

    The takeaway from that thunderous request? Be careful of what you wish for.

    Kessler was terrible against Hawaii, completing 10 of 19 passes for a meager 95 yards and one touchdown.

    In addition to that sparse production, Kessler also threw an interception and took a safety, as his just-as-unproductive offensive line resembled a sieve in allowing Hawaii's defensive line penetration into the Trojans' backfield.

    Still, poor play by the O-line aside. Kessler often looked lost and when his passes weren't drifting harmlessly past his receivers, they were being batted down by taller defenders.

    Overall, Kessler did not look like the answer USC was seeking for its signal-caller.

Max Wittek

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    On the surface, Max Wittek's production against Hawaii didn't seem to be much better than the effort offered by Cody Kessler.

    While Wittek's 5-for-10 effort and 77 yards passing weren't anything to write home about, there were extenuating circumstances attached to it that bear further scrutiny.

    Coming in to replace Kessler after the first series of the second half, Wittek was saddled with a very conservative game plan, as his head coach nursed a tenuous lead.

    Wittek was also the victim of a couple of dropped long passes, including one by all-everything wide receiver, Marqise Lee.

    If those passes had been completions, Wittek's line would look much better and there would be no doubt who Kiffin would tab as this week's starter.

Why Won't Kiffin Reveal His Starter?

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    Good for you Coach. You picked a starter. Now would you mind telling us who the hell he is?

    According to's Lindsey Thiry (subscription required), Kiffin has made his choice, saying:

    We’ve made a decision and that’s all I have. I don’t want to hear a bunch of stuff that is going to affect these young kids. These are things we do within our team that don’t need to be in the media.

    Really? Thanks for nothing coach.

    To what end Kiffin is playing this decision so close to the vest remains to be seen, but what seems certain to more cynical fans is that the head coach also avoids scrutiny by not revealing his choice until game time.

    Cloaking this decision under the guise of it being better for the quarterbacks in question may be partially true, but it also serves Kiffin.

    And it is exactly these kinds of decisions that have rankled an already-venomous fanbase over the past couple of seasons.


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    So there you have it. As the old adage goes, "Same problem, different day."

    In this case, that problem is the identity of the starting quarterback for the men of Troy. As we all know, that won't be revealed until Saturday.

    Although the head coach and his staff are privy to who that is, the rest of us will have to wait to see when the curtain is pulled back against WSU.

    As for who I would name the starter, there is no doubt that Max Wittek would be my guy and he would remain so for the entire 2013 season.

    Let the comments begin regarding my choice and for my effort to divert some measure of attention away from Lane Kiffin, I think he owes me, big time.

    My pleasure, Coach.