Kiffin: USC’s QB spot still up for grabs

LOS ANGELES — The first time USC stepped into the Coliseum for a scrimmage this camp, Cody Kessler got the start and the majority of the first team reps.

USC coach Lane Kiffin said the next time his team entered the Coliseum for a scrimmage, the start would go to Max Wittek.

True to his word, Kiffin gave Wittek the start Friday for scrimmage No. 2. It could have been to the quarterback’s detriment.

The defense came out and had one of their best performances of camp. The first-team defense forced three consecutive three-and-outs to begin the scrimmage.

Wittek’s day never got going.

“I think we managed the game well today,” said Wittek, who finished the day 2-for-7 for 15 yards. “I’ve put my resume on tape throughout the course of camp. I don’t think today’s any indicator.”

If you take a look at the numbers alone, you’d think Kessler put a stranglehold on the competition Friday.

After a first half dominated by the first-team defense, Kessler had a shot with and against the first unit, and led a touchdown drive which started at his own 25-yard line.

The staple of the drive was two Darreus Rogers receptions where he went up and snatched balls away from defenders.

Kessler completed 19-of-28 passes for 231 yards and three touchdowns.

“The first-defense (forced) so many three-and-outs versus the first-offense so the numbers got really lopsided,” Kiffin said. “They weren’t supposed to be that way. It wasn’t meant to be.”

Through two scrimmages, Kessler has been more accurate in such settings, completing 70.1 percent of his passes (31-of-44). Wittek has completed 55.6 percent (15/27).

Kessler has the edge in yards — 352 to 208 — and touchdown passes, four to two.

Kiffin would not commit to being any closer to naming a starter following Friday’s scrimmage, saying he had to go back and watch the film.

“You got to take in the variables,” the USC head coach said. “One guy didn’t really have many opportunities because of the defense performing so well.”

Kiffin also said he’d “prefer to have a starter today” but, of course, he has to go through the process to make sure the right decision is made.

So, the competition will continue.

Kessler was asked if he thought he did enough on Friday to earn the starting job.

“I don’t know,” he said. “At the end of the day it only comes down to one man’s decision.”

So we’ll all sit and wait for his decision.