Backup QB debate heats up
Spring football is in full effect on the USC campus. Last Saturday, the USC football team held its first scrimmage at the Coliseum. With the clock counting down until the conclusion of spring practice and the imminent season opener on Sept. 1, now is the time for the Trojans to start prepping for the future.
Though not one single snap has been taken, one canât help but wonder who will follow in senior quarterback Matt Barkleyâs footsteps. Who will be the understudy to the Heisman hopeful? Who will be the next leader of the USC Trojans?
Sure, the Trojans have time to spare before deciding the successor to Barkley, but it is necessary to take advantage of every opportunity to provide an adequate amount of experience before throwing the heir to the Trojan empire into the pack.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Cody Kessler seems the most likely to inherit the job. Kessler, who hails from Centennial High School in Bakersfield, Calif., is listed at 6-foot-1 and 210 pounds. Some have likened his talent to former USC quarterback Mark Sanchez. Though Kessler has not logged time for the Trojans because he redshirted during the 2011 season, he is primed to have his chance in the spotlight. Prep All-American, Kessler, whose play style is similar to that of the current USC offense, would be an easy fit in the offensive scheme.
But Kessler isnât the only redshirt freshman making a name for himself. Max Wittek, the 6-foot-4 quarterback, is a product of high school powerhouse Santa Ana Mater Dei (and was teammates with current players Barkley, Holmes and Blackwell). An All-American, Wittek was also a member of the All-Trinity first team during his senior year as he completed 153 of 282 passes (54.3 percent) for 2,252 yards with 24 touchdowns and 15 interceptions.
In the Trojansâ first spring scrimmage, Wittek seemed right at home in the pocket. It is undeniable that Wittek possesses what the Trojan offense might need in the future â a strong arm and mobility. Like Kessler, Wittek redshirted during the 2011 season.
With the abundance of attention fixed on whether it will be Kessler or Wittek as the official backup quarterback, many forget that another prime candidate is still in the Kiffin arsenal.
Redshirt sophomore Jesse Scroggins hasnât had the best of luck at USC. The 6-foot-2 quarterback was sidelined for the majority of the 2011 season after suffering an injury to his hand and thumb. Scroggins, a product of Lakewood High School, did appear in one game for the Trojans, although only for the final snap in the home duel against Washington. The All-American Scroggins, like Kessler and Wittek, has yet to throw a single pass (in a game) for the Trojans.
The top three candidates have little experience behind the Trojan offensive line. Now is the time, however, to properly evaluate all three quarterbacks and determine which will be the best fit. With some players possessing similar play styles, USC can utilize a system that will incorporate the best of both worlds and take advantage of all the various talents.
Spring practice is the most vital for the future of the Trojan offense. Every decision now sets the stage for the future of the USC football program. Allowing enough time to have the successor(s) gain confidence in their respective craft is crucial and necessary.
Though some might claim it is too early to start prepping for next season, it is in the best interest of the USC football program. Whoever will be serving as backup to Barkley in 2012 needs to be prepared for any situation. Without a doubt, the decision needs to be sensible, but not rushed.
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