Embattled USC coach Lane Kiffin finally gave up his quest for secrecy surrounding the status of his quarterbacks and named sophomore Cody Kessler the starter heading into this week’s game against Boston College.
Kessler started the first two games of the season, but both times the fact that he was starting was not revealed until game time.
The sophomore had been competing with Max Wittek, another sophomore, all throughout the spring and summer. Neither quarterback could separate from the other coming out of fall camp, although most observers felt Kessler looked the most proficient in practices and scrimmages.
While both have played in the first two games, neither is setting the world on fire.
Kessler has a passer rating of 89.76 and Wittek’s is 75.33. As a team, USC is 114th in passing offense and 118th in efficiency.
The duo combined for just 54 yards passing in an ugly 10-7 loss to Washington State on Saturday. It was the fewest passing yards in a game by the Trojans since 1998.
If there’s one area that appears to be the canary in the coal mine for Kiffin’s coaching future at USC, it’s the performance of his quarterbacks with his offense. Both Wittek and Kessler were highly-recruited players, but they are both struggling to execute Kiffin’s complicated scheme despite being in their third seasons at the school.
For now, Kiffin is putting his future in the hands of Kessler. But without a concurrent change in offensive philosophy to suit Kessler’s skill set, this move may just be the equivalent of rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.
UPDATE: Here’s Kiffin explaining himself and his decision via Youtube: