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?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.