USC Football: Spring Practice QB Competition Update

Kyle Kensing@kensing45Contributor IMarch 21, 2014

Southern California quarterback Cody Kessler, left, stands next to quarterback Max Browne during NCAA college football practice on Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2013, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

USC head coach Steve Sarkisian is no hurry to name a leader in the competition between quarterbacks Cody Kessler and Max Browne, giving the eventual starter plenty of time to stand out before the Trojans' Aug. 30 season opener against Fresno State.

Kessler, Browne and the rest of the Trojans had the week off for spring break, giving Sarkisian and USC's new coaching staff extra time to reflect on the two quarterbacks' play through the first of 15 spring practices.

Rich Hammond of The Orange County Register tweeted last weekend that Sarkisian would "ideally" name a starter by the end of the spring, which culminates with the April 19 intrasquad scrimmage.

Ideally does not translate to necessity, however, and Sarkisian will give both ample time to prove worthy of the role.

 "When it feels right, when it looks right, I’ll probably let it sit one more practice, just to be sure, and then we will make a decision," Sarkisian said per Hammond. "Right now, we’re just gathering information and installing our stuff."

The stuff Sarkisian and his staff are installing is a hurry-up, no-huddle offense, a distinct deviation from what USC ran in the past, but certainly not foreign to either Browne or Kessler.

Both played in variations of a spread offense in high school and are capable of calling plays from behind center. Sarkisian's system fits both quarterbacks' strengths, and it should result in a more explosive offense for USC, overall. To whom the scheme is better accustomed is one of the mysteries that will unfold sometime before opening week.

Sarkisian may be mum for now, but others have their opinions. Scott Wolf ranked Kessler ahead of Browne in his Los Angeles Daily News blog Wednesday.

Kessler has the inherent advantage of experience. He's entering his fourth year in the program and captained the Trojans to 10 wins in 2013.

He has also been through the rigors of a quarterback competition, having beat out Max Wittek for the job last year, though the two shared duties for the first two weeks.

Wittek has since transferred, a development that might explain some of Sarkisian’s calculation in waiting to name a leader. Browne explained Wittek’s departure to Gary Klein of The Los Angeles Times.

"Anyone that really knows football...knew that one of those guys was going to get the job and, just the way the business works, one of them was going to have to leave," Browne said.  

With Wittek gone, Sarkisian only has two options with any collegiate experience. If the eventually named starter struggles or goes down with injury, Sarkisian needs someone who can seamlessly step in with the first unit.

The competition reconvenes Tuesday.