As most of you know USC held their Spring game yesterday, and it was one of the most anticipated spring games of the year. With Matt Barkley out, who has been the face of USC football for the past four years, there are now three quarterbacks who are battling for the head of the USC offense. Another big headliner this off-season was USC hired Clancy Pendergast as Defensive Coordinator, and after a terrible defensive showing in 2012 it is safe to say most USC fans are excited about a new era for USC defensively. Another note from this spring is injuries are hitting us hard and it gave an opportunity for other guys to jump up and take reps.
The trio of quarterbacks who competed yesterday were red-shirt sophomores Cody Kessler and Max Wittek along with true freshmen Max Browne. Each rotated series with the cardinal offense and for the most part they played well. Wittek, who started two games last year with Barkley out, was 12-of-17 with 145 yards, with two touchdowns but also two interceptions. His first pick was just thrown up towards Victor Blackwell in double coverage and Demetrius Wright easily jumped in front and got the pick. Wittek looked okay, but he was inconsistent and at times he would just throw the ball up. Cody Kessler looked the best of all the quarterbacks by going 15-of-22 with 242 yards, along with three touchdowns and zero picks. He has already had a great spring, and his performance shows that he is the real deal. He was the most consistent, and made a lot of critics stay quite by putting beautiful touch on deep balls. Max Browne was 7-of-10 with 82 yards, with touchdown and a pick. He shined at moments during this game, but he also showed his inexperience. He was sacked a couple times to many, and he also made some bad decisions. None the less he looked good, and the future is a bright one for him.
The receivers thrived, and Marqise Lee looked like he hasn't slowed down since the end of the season. He had eight catches for 148 yards and a couple touchdowns. The opposite of Lee is sophomore Nelson Agholor who is looking like a great replacement for Robert Woods. He had seven catches for 116 yards and he found the end zone as well. The most impressive was Victor Blackwell who has emerged as the number three receiver and he had seven catches for 155 yards. The three top receivers had a combination of 419 yards so it is safe to say that we are set there.
At the running back position we have been injury prone and it especially hurt with starter Silas Redd out, and D.J. Morgan out and who has experience there. It was also hard to tell how the running backs were doing since Lane Kiffin implemented the no tackle rule for the game. Freshmen Justin Davis, who has emerged this spring as someone who can get a lot of playing time at runningback, looked good and seemed to get most of the attention there. Buck Allen and Tre Madden also got reps there and looked like they are going be our big power backs. We should also note that the defensive line was thriving, and gave the offensive line a lot of trouble. The D-line had 12 sacks total, three coming from Morgan Breslin. Defensive tackle Leonard Williams also had six tackles, and true freshmen Kenny Bigelow also had a good day.
The secondary got most of the criticism as the offensive air attack just ripped them apart. I do not think we should start panicking about that position yet because there were a lot of injuries there. Also they were going against the best receiving corps in college football and most of the secondary have little to no game experience. With more players due to come back from injury and they should all get way better over summer ball.
All in all I think this was a great success for USC. The offense won 42-36 and we all got to forget about the disaster of last season. We saw a lot of bright spots, and we saw what we could work on. USC still has all of summer and fall ball left and we should clean up a lot of the mistakes we made in the game. Lane Kiffin said this about the quarterback competition," I would not imagine a decision coming out of today, a lot of people around the country that are trying to find one really good quarterback...I think we have three." That is great news and lets all get ready in four months for our first game at Hawaii.