How USC QB Cody Kessler ranks among Pac-12’s best

The Pac-12 is loaded with quarterbacks from top to bottom in 2014. Here’s a comparison of what two did in conference games last season.

Quarterback A played in all nine conference games in 2013, throwing for 1,926 yards, 12 touchdowns, four interceptions, and had a pass efficiency rating of 148.7.

Quarterback B also played in nine conference games in 2013. This quarterback threw for 1,997 yards, 14 touchdowns, six interceptions, and had a pass efficiency rating of 149.2.

Both quarterbacks led their teams to 10-win seasons including six wins in Pac-12 play.

Quarterback A? USC’s Cody Kessler.

Quarterback B? UCLA’s Brett Hundley.

The latter is arguably the top quarterback in the conference. At worst, he’s normally slotted No. 2 behind Oregon’s Marcus Mariota.

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Many publications have a tough time placing Kessler any higher than fifth among Pac-12 starting quarterbacks heading into 2014.

If the aforementioned 2013 stats have any say in deciding the margin between top or second best quarterback in the conference and the fifth best, the margin is overwhelmingly slim.

It’s no secret the rest of the conferences in America will be looking up to the Pac-12 in 2014 when it comes to quarterback play.

Week after week the quarterbacks in the Pac-12 will be looking across the field at each other waiting to see what the other does.

"You know that you got to play better than that guy in that game because when you have quarterbacks such as Marcus (Mariota) and Sean (Mannion) and Brett (Hundley) that can come out and throw four or five touchdowns in a game, you know you got to be right there with them and help your defense out and give them a little bit of a cushion," Kessler said.  

The USC signal caller says he doesn’t pay attention to the rankings and he isn’t quite sure where he stands in the pack of the Pac-12. He’s confident he’ll be a better quarterback in 2014 compared to the 2013 version of himself who was a first year starter.

It’s safe to say the quarterback who has aspirations of being mentioned among the top quarterbacks in the nation won’t be satisfied with being just the fifth best quarterback in his conference once 2014 is spoken for.

"My main goal was focusing on wanting to establish myself as one of those elite quarterbacks, not only in the conference but across the country and it’s all going to depend on how I play," Kessler said. "It comes down to winning games and how the quarterback plays is going to help you do that.

"Most of the time if you look at who won (in the box score), that can tell you about the quarterback play of the game. I never compare stats. My biggest thing is winning games. Obviously, the stat I focus on is not turning the ball over and throwing touchdowns to help us win."