USC coach Lane Kiffin has finally picked a starting quarterback for his team.
It’s just that we won’t actually know who he is until next Saturday, when the Trojans host Washington State in their home opener.
“You guys will see on Saturday who he is,” said Kiffin on his Sunday night media conference call.
But we think we know right now who it’s going to be.
To recap, Cody Kessler and Max Wittek — both redshirt sophomores — were listed as USC’s co-starters headed into the Hawaii game. Kessler took the first snap and played the entire first half and the first series of the third quarter. He finished 10 of 19 for just 95 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Wittek took over from Kessler and ended up 5 of 10 for 77 yards. USC’s offense put up just 364 yards overall in a sluggish 30-13 win.
Close observers of USC have noted that the playcalling for Kessler and Wittek against Hawaii was markedly different, particularly in the passing game. Here are the passing charts* for each quarterback versus the Rainbow Warriors:
As you can see, most of Kessler’s throws were safe throws to the flats. Only three passes went longer than 10 yards. Meanwhile, most of Wittek’s pass attempts were over 10 yards.
These charts probably betray Kiffin’s confidence in Wittek’s markedly stronger arm and, if we had to venture a guess, it tips his hand on which quarterback he plans on starting next Saturday. After all, a pro style system usually demands a pro style arm.
It wouldn’t be Wittek’s first start, though. He started the final two games of last season after Matt Barkley got hurt against UCLA. The results? Decidedly mixed. But Kiffin needs to go with the quarterback who he feels best fits his system if he is actually going to allow that quarterback to throw the ball downfield.
For now, all those signs point to that quarterback being Wittek.
* — Thanks to USC fan Chase Vergari for sending me these charts.
Florida linebacker Cristian Garcia stopped a sexual assault behind a popular Gainesville bar, according to a police report.
Garcia told police he was taking out the trash early Thursday morning at 101 Cantina, where he works security, and witnessed a couple having sex by the dumpsters. Upon closer inspection, he says, Garcia noticed the woman was unconscious. He and a coworker approached the man, a 34-year old named Christian Shaw, who managed to escape but has since been arrested on sexual battery charges.
“I was taking out the garbage, and I saw the man pressing the woman up against the Dumpster. At first the guy said she was his girlfriend, but about five seconds later I realized the girl was unconscious,” Garcia told the Gainesville Sun. “I turned around and pulled the guy by the shoulder and said ‘get off.’ That pretty much ended the situation then. He was intoxicated and attempted to throw some punches, but he slipped and busted his face on the wall.”
The Sun notes that police video shows “the victim was mentally and physically unable to give consent due to her level of intoxication.”
Garcia is a walk-on from Miami who appeared in one game in 2015.
There may be something to the fact that life in the Big Ten hasn’t proved to be all Nebraska thought it was. The money is nice, sure, but it hasn’t translated to Big Ten championships, and it’s not like the Huskers are cutting their fans in on any of the profits.
So, yes, Nebraska may have found, half a decade in now, that life in the Big Ten West is more similar to life in the Big 12 North than they’d ever admit publicly.
But that doesn’t mean they would ever actually go back to the Big 12.
And whatever amount of remorse the ‘Huskers may feel in the Big Ten doesn’t nearly equate to the desire some have in the Big 12 to make everyone think Nebraska has buyer’s remorse about its big move.
Case in point: K-State head coach Bill Snyder.
“When push comes to shove,” Snyder told ESPN, “I don’t want to speak for anybody, but I’m not so sure they’re pleased with the decision they made.”
Snyder also said he missed the Wildcats’ rivalry with Nebraska and thinks the two should still be playing.
And considering the state of affairs in Lincoln, perhaps Nebraska should feel the same way. The see-saw was somewhat even from the late-90’s through the early 2000’s — K-State actually held a 5-2 advantage from 1998-04, and the winner of their annual meeting went on to claim the Big 12 North title every year from 1996 through 2000. But other than that seven-year spurt, Nebraska-Kansas State was about as competitive as bugs vs. windshields — the Huskers hold a 76-10-2 edge, including a six-game winning streak.
Michigan State has hired former Detroit Lions personnel executive Sheldon White as an all-encompassing “program consultant,” the Spartans have announced.
“We’re extremely excited about the addition of Sheldon to our program,” Spartans head coach Mark Dantonio said in a statement. “He has a vast amount of experience at the highest level of football. We can’t wait to work with him and gain insight from his knowledge and expertise, while at the same time introducing him to our players and coaches. I think Sheldon will provide a great benefit to our program.”
White worked for the Lions for 19 years in a variety of roles, including as vice president of pro personnel and interim general manager. A four-year starter at cornerback at Miami (Ohio), White played for the New York Giants, Lions and Cincinnati Bengals before returning to his alma mater as wide receivers coach.
From Miami, White joined the Lions’ organization and steadily rose the ranks before being let go after last season.
As outlined in the press release, White won’t have a defined role for however long he works with the Spartans, instead lending a hand wherever they could use one.
“From the other perspective, whatever Coach Dantonio needs me to do, I’m all in with him and his entire staff. Michigan State has a great program and I’m looking forward to joining in and giving whatever insight I can provide. Anywhere I can help out and wherever Coach Dantonio needs me to go, that’s where I’ll be,” White said.
“One of the main things I’m excited about is being around the players and getting a chance to work with them. I hope I can add something that will maximize their performance and possibly get them ready for the National Football League.”
Michigan State finished 12-2 last season, winning the Big Ten title and reaching their first College Football Playoff semifinals. The Spartans open the 2016 campaign Friday, Sept. 2 against Furman in East Lansing (7 p.m. ET, BTN).
It seemed clear by now Chris Casher would never fulfill the promise he arrived to Tallahassee with five seasons ago.
Rated the No. 3 defensive end in the class of 2012 by 247Sports, Casher suffered a season-ending injury two games into his 2012 campaign, then never accumulated more than 28 tackles in a season before moving to tight end before this season.
“He was a very, very good receiver out of high school,” ‘Noles head coach Jimbo Fisher told the Palm Beach Post this spring. “He is a really good basketball player. He has a lot of natural offensive skill. … catches the ball and has natural hands.
“When I played quarterback, I knew who I wanted to throw it to. And the guys that caught my eye. So our guys have been bragging about him. We’ll see what he does.”
But Fisher confirmed Friday Casher is no longer on the roster.
Casher was placed a one-year probation by Florida State for his involvement in the Jameis Winston sexual assault case and, according to USA Today, was briefly detained alongside Winston by FSU police for carrying a pellet gun on campus.
The reason for Casher’s departure was not known at press time.