Cody Kessler ready to lead USC as starting QB

LOS ANGELES — Cody Kessler left Lane Kiffin’s office on Sunday with a new sense of independence. A new found freedom.

“It felt like he gave me the keys to the car,” Kessler said. “(Kiffin) gave me the starting spot and said it’s yours.”
Kessler learned Sunday following USC’s 10-7 loss to Washington State the he’d beaten out fellow redshirt sophomore Max Wittek to be the team’s starting quarterback.

Through two games, Kessler has completed 18-of-32 passes for 136 yards, with a touchdown, a rushing score, and two interceptions. He’s started the Trojans previous two games but the concept of winning was one that was lost in the quarterback competition. 

“It was tough to focus on a game (and) to win a game when you’re still thinking you’re competing for a spot,” Kessler said. “I think I’ve been trying to be too perfect in a way and trying win the job more than win the game.”

He couldn’t be himself, everything was calculated. He was less sure of himself during the team’s first two games. The player who spent all of spring, summer, and fall camp proving that he was capable of leading the Trojans in 2013 was lost.

“(You) can’t mess up or you’re not going to get the spot,” he thought to himself. “You got to make this play or you’re not going to get the job.

“I was just beating myself up thinking about that.”

With that cloud now lifted, Kessler can focus on trying to lead the team to wins instead of winning his own competition battle.

Since he named Kessler the starting quarterback, Kiffin says he’s already seen a change in his newly anointed signal caller. He says he’s more confident and less hesitant to make throws, something that clearly showed up on film from the first two weeks of the season.

Kessler calls it a relief. He’s ecstatic about the opportunity to show what he can do as the man.

Upon finding out the news that he’d won the starting job, the first message Kessler sent was to his father, Don.

In a text message, Kessler wrote: “It’s go time.”