Itâ€™s not always easy to replace the face of a program, but finding a replacement for Matt Barkley isnâ€™t a pressing issue for head coach Lane Kiffin.
By RAHSHAUN HAYLOCKFS West
It’s not always easy to replace the face of a program. Matt Barkley had been that for USC football for the better part of the last three years.
Finding a replacement for him, however, isn’t a pressing issue for head coach Lane Kiffin. He is happy with the way the program is headed in that regard.
“I do feel like all three of (our quarterbacks) are really good college quarterbacks,” Kiffin said. “I think that’s a great problem to have.”
With the coach reiterating that declaration again on Monday, it’s clear he’s yet to make up his mind. The quarterback battle will continue through the summer and into the fall for Max Wittek, Cody Kessler, and Max Browne. All three are listed as co-starters on USC’s end of spring depth chart, which was released on Monday.
The coming months will be filled with a review of the spring. The coaching staff will get into the pros and cons of each rep the three quarterbacks took during the spring and will let each one know what he has to improve on in order to be the guy when the Trojans open the season on Aug. 29 at Hawaii.
There has been a perception that Kessler, because of his size, has some limitations when it comes to running the USC offense.
Kiffin addressed that on Monday as well.
“What Cody showed this spring is no we do not (have to change the way we run the offense),” the USC coach said. “We can run everything the same way we’ve run it for years with Cody in there.”
The only surprise on the depth chart offensively was on the offensive line. Left to right, the starters are listed as Aundrey Walker, Max Tuerk, Marcus Martin and John Martinez. Right tackle is where things get tricky.
Kevin Graf is listed as a co-starter with Chad Wheeler — Graf started the last two seasons at right tackle for the Trojans.
“Chad’s injury really, kind of, stopped what we were seeing as a great spring for him,” Kiffin said. “We’re going to put him over there with Kevin and let those guys battle it out (in the fall).”
Kiffin said the depth chart released Monday “is very much in sand” and doesn’t mean a lot. That couldn’t be any more true than on the defensive side of the ball, especially at cornerback.
Anthony Brown is listed as a starter on one side with Torin Harris and Kevon Seymour listed as co-starters on the opposite side. Not only were there inconsistencies at corner, but it was also tough to evaluate because of the number of injuries at that position.
“It would have been easy to just ‘or’ everybody there,” Kiffin said half-jokingly. “We got a lot of work to figure out there.”
Harris, Seymour and Devian Shelton all missed time this spring with various injuries.
Freshman Chris Hawkins “just got here” and Brown has been “up and down.”
Staying in the secondary, Kiffin put the speculation to rest, officially announcing Dion Bailey will be switching to safety in the fall. He’s listed fourth at strong safety behind Josh Shaw, Su’a Cravens and Rob Dooley. The coaches didn’t have any chance to evaluate Bailey because he missed the entire spring recovering from shoulder surgery.
Kiffin said the position change shouldn’t be too burdensome for Bailey because it’s a position he played in high school.