USC’s Max Browne facing uphill climb in QB battle

Redshirt freshman Max Browne is competing for USC's starting quarterback position.

USC head coach Steve Sarkisian has allowed Max Browne to get back in his element.

Sarkisian brings with him an offense that places quarterbacks primarily in the shotgun. For Browne, that’s right up his alley.

On his way to becoming the No. 1 quarterback in the country at Washington Skyline high school, the redshirt freshman did so primarily out of the shotgun.

Surveying the field, taking the snap, all of the footwork associated with being in the ‘gun was, for the most part, second nature to Browne.

The biggest obstacle he had to overcome upon his arrival at USC was being under center.

"You have so many things that are just different — new environment, new teammates, new system but then just the idea of just getting the ball differently, something that’s really basic, and that took me a while to get the hang of," Browne said. "I felt like toward the end of the season I got there but it took time."

With all of the under center technicalities in his rearview, it’s now safe for Browne to revert back to his old habits as he once again entrenches himself in a quarterback battle.

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Although, the biggest battle he has isn’t with Cody Kessler or Jalen Greene. Similar to Kessler’s belief that he is competing against the top quarterbacks in the nation, Browne says his biggest competition is with himself.

"I’ve said this from day one: if you start competing and comparing yourself with other guys day in and day out you’ll, kind of, drive yourself crazy so I try to take the mindset (that I’m) just, kind of, working against myself each and every day," Browne said.  

This time around Browne believes he’s in a competition that’s more of an even playing field than what he endured last season. Kessler and Max Wittek already had a leg up on him in the playbook by the time he stepped on campus, thus forcing Browne to play catch up.  

"It was definitely obvious in meetings last year that I was the young guy," he said.

With a new staff, the quarterbacks have all had equal opportunity to learn the new playbook. But there is another factor Browne simply can’t compete with: game experience. Kessler has it. He doesn’t. That makes for a slightly uphill climb.

"Any game experience is great experience and that’s what he had last year, but at the end of the day I learned a lot with my redshirt year and tried to make the most of that," Browne said. "All 14 games I was learning. All 14 games I was engaged doing hand signals and all that stuff, so I was just trying to get better that way."