USC-Boston College: What To Watch For

Stephen Dunn

1. Cody Kessler

This one is a no-brainer. USC coach Lane Kiffin finally named a starting quarterback, a decision that should at least give Kessler a little bit more confidence. The redshirt sophomore even acknowledged as much this week:

"I had that thought in my head, 'I can't mess up or you're not going to get the spot,'" Kessler said. "Or 'You've got to make this play or you're not going to win the job.' I don't have to worry about that anymore and it's awesome to know the coaches have full confidence in me."

Through two games, Kessler is just 18-of-32 for 136 passing yards, two total touchdowns (one rushing) and two interceptions. That's not the best looking line, but the play calling hasn't been beneficial, and at times, the offensive line hasn't provided much pass protection. With the vote of confidence from the coaching staff, how will Kessler fare in his first full game as a starter, and did Kiffin make the right choice in choosing him over Max Wittek?

This also leads into the next point...

2. USC's passing game

As Kiffin put it after the Washington State game, the Trojans' passing game was "inept." Through two games, USC ranks 114th out of 125 Division-I FBS teams in passing offense. Obviously, that's not good. Again, it's a combination of things, from the play calling, to the blocking up front, to the quarterback. But now that Kiffin can game plan around Kessler's strengths, will we see more creativity on offense, or will there be the same bubble screens fans have learned to loathe over the last couple seasons? The offense has yet to sustain any type of rhythm and the mere threat of a passing game could open up more running lanes for Tre Madden and the rest of the tailbacks.

3. Third-down situations

Part of USC's ineptitude on the offensive end comes from its inability to convert on third down. Through two games, the Trojans are just 6 for 27 on third-down conversion attempts (22.2 percent), which ranks 115th out of 125 Division-I FBS teams.

4. Andre Williams vs. USC's defensive front

The Eagles are 2-0 on the young season and Williams is a big reason why. He rushed for 114 yards and one touchdown in Week 1 vs. Villanova; in Week 2, he totaled 204 rushing yards and one score vs. Wake Forest (he was named ACC player of the week for his performance). Williams ranks third in the nation in total rushing yards, but the USC defense ranks first in rushing defense and second in sacks.

5. Marqise Lee impact

For those watching, it's evident that Lee is trying to do too much on the field. Whether it's trying to reach for more yards or turn a botched play into a home run, the junior wide receiver hasn't looked the same through the first two weeks. Even though offensive woes through the first two games doesn't help the cause, Kiffin acknowledged Lee is "pushing a little too much." But most people are waiting for a breakout game from the reigning Biletnikoff Award winner. The fans want to be entertained and Lee provides just that, but can he play within himself while having a positive influence on USC's offense?

USC-Boston College kicks off at 12:00 p.m. PT and will be televised live on the Pac-12 network. You can also listen live on 710 ESPN Radio.

Follow Trevor on Twitter: @Trevor_Wong.

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