So USC has "chosen" Cody Kessler as its starting quarterback this week against Washington State. Maybe. We have heard that Lane Kiffin wants the redshirted sophomore to start the game, but that's about all that is known.
He may keep him in for the whole game, but he may also just repeat the Hawaii game again where Kessler started and Max Wittek played the second half. The information may also be wrong, and he may not even play during the game. I may even start, who knows at this point?
It's a pretty obvious statement that sports are mainly made up of the unpredictable. You don't know who is going to win the game, let alone who is going to score a touchdown, let alone who is going to get the most catches, let alone who is going to win the coin toss, and so on.
For USC this goes a step more though. Kiffin's inability to pull the trigger on who is the quarterback and ultimately the face and leader of USC football, adds another uncertainty to a game already full of them.
You want to be able to prepare for your opponent each week, you want to know their weapons so you can control the unpredictable. Maybe Kiffin knows what he is doing; maybe he sees this as an opportunity to put teams on its toes. If you do not know which quarterback is starting then you don't know how to practice for them. Or you have to spend half of your time preparing for someone who isn't even going to see the game.
After all, the two quarterbacks do have a different style of play to them, even though they are both primarily passers. This article by Chris Huston on NBC Sports about the quarterback battle has these two charts:
Kessler completed 10 of 19 passes for 95 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
Max Wittek, on the other hand, had a little bit more conservative play calling but still managed to throw 77 yards with 5 for 10 completions.
Notice though that Wittek threw 6 of his passes over 10 yards, while Kessler only threw 3 of his past that mark. It says something about the difference in the two's arm strength, definitely, but it also tells opposing teams to be prepared for anything. If you do not know which one you will face, then you don't know if you should work on protecting primarily short passes or long bombs.
The only problem though is that I do not think Kiffin has really committed to one player yet. I may be wrong, but I don't know if that added advantage of secrecy is really worth it?
We know that Kiffin is Captain Secrecy, see this video here of Coach Kiffin getting asked about a player's injury (the question was muted because USC did not want the information on the injury to be leaked). He will go great lengths to keep things under wraps until the last possible moment.
It's just that right now is not the time for secrecy. Kiffin is in the last year of his contract, and it is clear that USC fans do not exactly have his back. Last year after the train wreck, AKA The "Started from the top and now we're here (at the bottom)" season the LA Times polled the SC fan base, and 76% of them said they wanted Kiffin gone.
It seems as though Kiffin is too aware of his own bleak future to really be able to be comfortable with either QB taking the reins. He second-guesses his decisions because he does not want to have anything go wrong this season. Of course in so doing, he cripples his own team and alienates his fan base even further.
Fans can't get behind him because he can't make a decision. We can't get excited about the team because we don't even really know the team yet.
Players can't find a rhythm or groove. Max Wittek and Kessler have to play each drive like it is the most important thing in their life because if they don't succeed there is a chance that Kiffin will sit them for the other. Receivers, like Marqise Lee, can't get into rhythm and struggle to make a connection with either quarterback. All-in-all it is too inconsistent for a team to succeed with.
It is hard to see someone have such little regard for tradition of the school that he coaches for. The Trojans are supposed to be powerful warriors, who held strong for many years of war, instead we are seen as a team with a coach who is too afraid to make a decision and potentially fail. He does not have the confidence to lead this team.
It is a brand new season, yet we are already talking about Kiffin and his poor decision making. It is frustrating to see the talents of Marqise Lee and many others go to waste as we have to watch as Kiffin turns everything about this team into something about him, while telling us not to pay attention to him.
How can we not pay attention to you, Lane, if you cannot lead us?
The first home game of the season is about people coming together to celebrate a brand new season, and continue USC's many years of a great tradition. We looked forward this summer to not having the stresses from last year bearing down on us anymore. We wanted To wear our USC gear proudly and watch football, no strings attached.
How can we get excited when we are questioning if the coach, who had the whole offseason to figure out this decision, still won't tell us who the starting QB is? How can we expect to compete against a loaded Pac-12 division when our coach can't make a simple decision? How are we having this conversation the second game into the season?
More importantly though, how are you going to win us back, Lane?
By: Mark Albano Follow on Twitter: @MarkAlbano11