Cody Kessler beginning to separate in USC QB battle

USC quarterback Cody Kessler looks for an open receiver during practice at Howard Jones Field on Tuesday.

There is beginning to be some separation at the quarterback position for USC.

Cody Kessler, the incumbent, and redshirt freshman Max Browne are in a battle to determine who will be the team’s signal caller in 2014 under first year head coach Steve Sarkisian.

Six practices in, it’s Kessler who appears unwilling to relinquish his hold as the Trojans starter.

"Cody’s gotten better every day and that’s been encouraging," Sarkisian said following the team’s first scrimmage in the Coliseum on Saturday. "I thought today there was quite a few big plays."

During the scrimmage, Kessler connected with Nelson Agholor for a 65-yard touchdown pass.

"He and Nelson, obviously, have great rapport with one another," Sarkisian added.

Browne, on the other hand, has found some comfort in returning back to the shotgun almost exclusively, akin to his high school days. However, he hasn’t been as sharp as his counterpart, Kessler.

USC’s Max Browne facing uphill climb in QB battle


"I think Max is improving as well but, I think, maybe not at the rapid pace that Cody has been so far," Sarkisian said.

As for Kessler, Sarkisian really likes what he brings to the position.

"I think Cody’s got a really quick release and tremendous arm strength and really accurate guy down the field," Sarkisian said.

The head coach would, however, like to see Kessler be better in his anticipation of throws.

"I think he can do it," Sarkisian said. "It’s just a matter of anticipating the windows and the throws of guys of where they’re going to be, trusting that they’re going to be there, not waiting for them to get there, and he’s definitely improved at it.

"I think he can still improve in that area and when he does he’s going to be a really terrific player."

By no means is the competition over for Browne. Sarkisian has said he doesn’t have a timetable for when a decision will be made, earlier this spring saying "when it looks right, when it feels right" the decision will be made.