Kiffin keeping to his word

Coach Lane Kiffin waited until the last possible moment to name Max Wittek the backup quarterback this season and then emphasized that doing so had no implications on who would replace Matt Barkley in 2013. Kiffin is sticking by those words as the open competition is under way once again between Wittek and Cody Kessler.

It almost seemed a foregone conclusion that redshirt freshman Max Wittek would takeover as USC's quarterback for the departing Matt Barkley.

After all, he won the backup role this season, held his own and even showed flashes of potential greatness during his first-career start against top-ranked Notre Dame.

After the loss to the Irish, Wittek's teammates, including receiver Marqise Lee, spoke about the future with him under center as though it was a certainty.

But Coach Lane Kiffin is remaining consistent on the subject of naming USC's next starting quarterback, saying it is still an open battle between Wittek and fellow redshirt freshman Cody Kessler.

Though it would be easy to conclude Wittek is the future, both he and Kessler say they believe Kiffin when he says the job is not spoken for.

"I trust what Coach Kiffin says," Kessler after practice Sunday. "If he says it's equal then it's equal and that's what they've preached about since we first got here."

When asked if Wittek's time versus Notre Dame could give him an edge in the competition, Kessler responded by saying he's not letting it get to him, "I'm supporting Max and at the same time we're competing for a spot," he said. "I'm just doing what I've been doing since I came here, competing and never complaining or whining about anything."

Kiffin confirmed Wittek's role as backup will remain solid through the bowl game, but he and Kessler are splitting reps with the first and second team during bowl practices.

"This is just part of the eventual competition of who is the next starter next year," Kiffin said, before adding that reps will be split evenly during spring practices as well.

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