Kiffin picks Kessler to start for USC against BC
LOS ANGELES (AP)
Quarterback Cody Kessler will start again for Southern California this week, and he's not sharing the Trojans' top job any more.
Coach Lane Kiffin picked Kessler on Monday to make his third start of the season against Boston College. Kiffin also said Kessler will no longer split practice work and playing time with Max Wittek, who has played in the second half of the Trojans' first two games.
Kiffin announced his long-delayed decision in a video posted on the Trojans' official website.
''We made a decision to go with Cody, and we're excited about how he's going to play Saturday,'' Kiffin said.
Kessler and Wittek have been competing for the chance to replace Matt Barkley at USC (1-1) since the spring, but neither seized the starting job. Kiffin elected to play both quarterbacks in the first two games, and they shared practice time roughly equally.
''I think that it will help us general, just knowing that it is one (quarterback) right now, and we can game plan around that,'' Kiffin said. ''And now we can get off of the 50-50 reps and get back to Cody getting the majority of the reps.''
Wittek started the Trojans' final two games of last season, but Kessler started USC's season-opening victory over Hawaii last month and an embarrassing 10-7 loss to Washington State last week. Wittek entered the Hawaii game midway through the third quarter, and he played the second half against Washington State.
But neither quarterback has played particularly well this season, and Kiffin has been extraordinarily conservative in his play-calling during two poor offensive games for the talent-laden Trojans.
Kessler is 18 of 32 for 136 yards and two interceptions, while Wittek is 8 of 18 for 90 yards with one interception. Kessler rushed for one TD and threw the only scoring pass of the season for the Trojans, who haven't completed a 20-yard pass this season.
Despite the presence of All-American receiver Marqise Lee, speedy wideout Nelson Agholor and two talented tight ends, USC passed for just 54 yards against the Cougars in the Trojans' worst passing game since 1998.
''We were just totally inept in the passing game, as bad as it can possibly be,'' Kiffin said. ''When we get the passing game fixed, we're going to win a lot of games with that.''
Wittek had fewer opportunities to throw in games, with Kiffin keeping his game plan spare and simple. With Wittek under center, USC didn't attempt an official pass in the third quarter against Washington State.
''We don't expect him to agree with us,'' Kiffin said of Wittek. ''He's very competitive, like all the guys we recruit. They all should think they should be the starter.''