Tag Archives: Max Browne

Cody Kessler remains the starter at USC

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USC TROJANS

After winning the quarterback battle in the lead up to the start of the season, Cody Kessler struggled at the beginning of the 2013-2014 Trojans campaign, under soon to be fired head coach Lane Kiffin. After Ed Orgeron took over and the Trojans made a strong second half run the culminated in a solid finish, Kessler finished strong and demonstrated the skills that made him a high recruited player. In the Trojans strong second half they won with solid defense, a good running attack and solid game management from Kessler. In the final six games of the regular season Kessler had 8 touchdown passes and one interception. The finished the season on a high note, throwing for 345 yards and four touchdowns in the Trojans impressive bowl victory over Fresno State. Kessler’s solid play coincided with USC’s best football of the season, a stretch where they won six of seven games. A loss to UCLA in the regular season finale was the only defeat the Trojans suffered after the month of October.

Cody Kessler

KESSLER

While Kessler was leading the Trojans to a comeback season the program was redshirting Max Browne, a highly recruited quarterback touted as USC’s quarterback of the future. Red-shirting Browne made sense, with many around the program speculating that the job would be Browne’s to lose as a true freshman. With former Trojans assistant Steve Sarkisian taking over the head coaching job, the two quarterbacks, along with Jalen Greene, went into spring practice competing for the starting job.

At the conclusion of spring practice Sarkisian indicated that Kessler was still tops on the depth chart following a solid performance. The new coach hedged his bets a bit, stating that Kessler’s starting status is contingent on continued improvement and a solid training camp. Browne is still considered the top contender for the job, with Sarkisian indicating that the redshirt freshman would have another opportunity to earn the starting position this summer.

Kessler is a good game manager but not the type of difference-making athlete at the quarterback position like USC’s Brett Hundley. After the Trojans solid finish last year they’ll enter the new season with big expectations in an increasingly difficult PAC 12 conference. The Southern Division of the PAC 12 is full of up and coming programs, including UCLA under Jim Mora and Arizona State and Arizona under Todd Graham and Rich Rodriquez. With Brett Hundley plying his trade across town, leading a UCLA team that many favor in the conference, is Cody Kessler the answer at quarterback?

USC Trojans QB

KESSLER

Whether he’s the answer or not will depend on how the Trojans replace Marqise Lee and whether or not they can continue the dominant running game they showed in the second half of last season. Lee, who left for the NFL, had an injury filled year in 2013, but when healthy was the type of player that opposing teams had to account for. His absence will put more pressure on key Kessler target Nelson Agholar, who had two touchdown catches in the Trojans bowl victory. Kessler will have the benefit of a full season with Buck Allen at running back. Allen, who battled injuries early in 2013 had a strong second half that coincided with the Trojans strong run of play. In the Trojans last six games Allen had four one-hundred yard rushing games and 12 touchdowns.

So what does the future hold for Max Browne? The highly recruited quarterback indicated he’s no transferring, but he’s looking at another season as a backup. If Kessler succeeds like he did at the end of last season he’ll have an additional year of eligibility remaining beyond next season. If the incumbent starter has a strong 2014 it’s hard to imagine him losing his job to Browne after next season. To add to Browne’s predicament is the presence of Ricky Town, who committed to the Trojans. Town is the top ranked quarterback in the class of 2014, highly touted like Browne.

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BY: Chris M.

Can Sarkisian Return The Trojans Back To Glory?

USC Trojans Football

USC Trojans

In a surprise move USC Athletic Director Pat Haden moved quickly and hired former USC assistant and current Washington Head Coach Steve Sarkisian to be the Trojans next head coach. The hiring neglected a drawn out national search and kept the decision within the USC family. Rumored candidates such as Jack Del Rio, James Franklin and interim Head Coach Ed Orgeron didn’t even interview for the position. Sources close to the program indicated that Haden offered to make Orgeron the assistant head coach and one of the college footballs highest paid college football assistants but Orgeron decided to resign to pursue other options.

The decision to hire Sarkisian was an interesting move due to the similar pedigree Sarkisian shared with fired Head Coach Lane Kiffin. In fact Kiffin and Sarkisian were so close during their time co-managing the offense under former Head Coach Pete Carroll that the duo was known as “Sarkiffian”. Like Kiffin, Sarkisian is an attempt to recapture the greatness the program enjoyed under Pete Carroll.

Perhaps the decision makes sense. Sarkisian has proven at Washington that he has the ability to turn around the program. The cupboard is also far from bare at USC as the Trojans proved in the run they made under Orgeron. Sarkisian is bringing in his defensive coordinator from Washington, Justin Wilcox, who brings a solid reputation for teaching defensive football. From all accounts Sarkisian is much more charismatic and press friendly than Kiffin and should charm rather than alienate the USC boosters. He’ll need to turn on the charm immediately and rebuild any potential relationships that the resignation of Orgeron created. Orgeron was a popular figure, especially among the players.

The issue with the decision for Haden is if it doesn’t work out. Choosing Sarkisian, like staying with Orgeron, is an easy decision to second guess. If the Trojans don’t have success under Sarkisian it’s Haden who will receive the bulk of the criticism. A bold move, such as hiring Jon Gruden or making a strong play for Chris Peterson may have insulated Haden a bit from the potential critics who will surely pop up if Sarkisian doesn’t enjoy instant success. The scene in Los Angeles is quite a bit different than when Kiffin took over. In Jim Mora Jr. the UCLA Bruins have a real program and are primed to become the football power in Los Angeles. The success of UCLA is more competition for the coveted Southern California recruits. The competition is even greater with the improvement of the Arizona State and Arizona programs. Both Arizona schools have hired head coaches with a national reputation that run exciting wide-open offenses. They are quickly becoming desirable destinations for many USC targets.

The Trojans have a potential superstar quarterback in Max Browne, who was able to complete his redshirt season with both Kiffin and Orgeron resisting the urge to pull his redshirt. The program has one more season before they have full available scholarships so it makes sense for Sarkisian to usher in the Max Browne era immediately, as early as spring practice. If Browne can bring some excitement into the program the Trojans can charge into 2015 with all of their NCAA sanctions lifted and a potential Heisman Trophy candidate quarterback.

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