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Max Browne Has Become a Microcosm of USC's Necessity For Depth

Each of USC's players can learn from this experience.

Max Browne is ready to play.
Max Browne is ready to play.
Shotgun Spratling/Conquest Chronicles

As Cody Kessler walked out to the practice field, gingerly pacing back and forth to his respective drills, redshirt freshman Max Browne was given the opportunity to control the ship on USC's first-team offense.

In the midst of steadfast preparation for Stanford, a minor toe procedure from Cody Kessler forced the coaching staff's hand, allowing Browne the opportunity to run against the first-team defense; this time as the go-to signal caller.

"It was going well," Browne said following practice. "Good to get out there, fun running with the ones. Approach it just like every other day. Stay ready and just compete."

Playing in his first-career game last week, Browne completed 3-of-4 passes for 30 yards against the Fresno State Bulldogs. Browne was much the same as we had seen in training camp, keeping things simple and handing off the football to capable tailbacks.

But when the second-team signal caller, who was beaten out in a semi "quarterback battle" last spring, was given his opportunity, players like Nelson Agholor were impressed with how Browne handled the moment.

"Max (Browne) threw the ball well," Agholor said following practice. "(We need) guys that believe when opportunities come to step up and make plays."

Like many positions on this team, USC has worked to develop an assortment of depth capable of stepping up and contributing at any given moment. For Max Browne, that transition seemed rather seamless despite some early nerves.

"It was huge," Browne said about competing with the first team. "I mean for any player, its just kind of a mental barrier you kind of hurdle. Get out the first-time jitters, get out there throw a couple of passes. It was awesome."

That has been the mantra from day one and with a roster now featuring 62 scholarship players (and counting) the Trojans understand everyone must be ready to compete.

"The team needed everyone to dial in and play at a high level," Agholor said. "They gotta focus and be prepared to play."

While Browne's chances of actually playing against Stanford seem rather bleak with Kessler saying he'd be ready on Saturdya, the Trojans' backup signal caller got what any player would want -- the respect and confidence of his teammates.

USC has preached that every player should be ready in case their number is called and guys like Max Browne have been working hard over Spring, Summer and Fall Training Camp for that one moment when they are asked to enter the game.

"I feel like I know the gameplan," he said. "I've been preparing since the day I got here."