Making the case at QB

Three quarterbacks, no starter named. You be the judge... who will it be replacing graduated senior Matt Barkley in 2013? Max Wittek or Cody Kessler? Or could it be the freshman who sneaks in and steals the show... Hear from all three quarterbacks on their performance during spring practice and hear in their own words if they think they deserve the job.

Max Wittek, redshirt sophomore

Wittek was named senior Matt Barkley's backup in 2012 after falling to No. 3 on the depth chart his freshman season behind Barkley and fellow freshman Cody Kessler.

The redshirt freshman saw time in blowout wins early in the season but was then called upon late in the loss to UCLA when Barkley went down with a season ending injury.

The following week Wittek started against No. 1 Notre Dame. It would've been nothing short of miraculous if he had been able to beat the undefeated Irish in his first career start, so it was no major disappointment when the Trojans fell. The silver lining of the game had to be Wittek's performance against one of the best defenses in the nation. He finished the game 14-of-23 for 186 yard including two interceptions and a touchdown and USC fans thought they found the quarterback of the future.

Then the Sun Bowl happened… as though you need a reminder.

In blustery El Paso conditions Wittek struggled to a miserable 14-of-37 for 107 yard performance, including three interceptions and a touchdown in the 21-7 loss to Georgia Tech.

Wittek's performance opened the door wide open for Kessler to make his case during spring practices.

However, Wittek showed throughout the 15 spring workouts that he's been able to learn from the performance. He admitted to watching the Sun Bowl film "two or three" times before finally flushing the game, hoping it never resurfaces.

Wittek practiced for a week and a half before a fluke injury in the Coliseum on March 9. He was holding for his kicker when he suffered a knee injury that kept him out until practice resume on March 26 after spring break.

Back from his knee injury the redshirt sophomore proved he didn't miss a beat when sidelined.

Throughout the spring Wittek put his cannon for an arm on display, demonstrating his ability to make big throws to his receivers.

The biggest question surrounding Wittek is if his coaches have left the Sun Bowl behind or if they worry that performance might resurface.

The redshirt sophomore got off to a slow start during the Trojans spring game, turning the ball over on downs his first series before ending the next two series with interceptions (though the second interception came on a tipped pass by the quarterback).

He was able to turn it around after the halftime break. Wittek finished strong, 12-of-17 for 145 yards including the two interceptions and two touchdowns.

Cody Kessler, redshirt sophomore

Kessler was named the backup to Barkley his freshman season before finding himself in the No. 3 spot on the depth chart in 2012.

He was able to get some game experience at quarterback in blowout wins over Hawaii and Colorado. Kessler finished 2-of-2 for yards in 2012.

Despite watching teammate Max Wittek gain valuable game experience against UCLA, Notre Dame, and Georgia Tech, Kessler remained optimistic that USC head coach Lane Kiffin would honor his word when he told the quarterbacks the race would be even entering spring, despite any previous performances.

Throughout the spring Kessler made his case to be named the starter. The redshirt sophomore quieted any doubts over his arm strength, consistently completing deep passes to receivers catching the ball in stride. He also showed his ability to make plays outside the pocket as well as his ability to run the ball.

Kessler isn't a flashy quarterback but consistently shows he can get the job done.

Look for no further proof than his numbers from the spring game.

His first play from scrimmage Kessler threw a 70-yard bomb to Marqise Lee for a touchdown.

He finished 15-of-22 for 242 yards including three touchdowns.

Max Browne, freshman

Browne graduated in Dec. from Sammamish (Wash.) Skyline High School in order to enroll early at USC and get a shot at winning the starting quarterback role as a true freshman.'s No. 1 rated quarterback in the 2013 recruiting class, he led his high school team to three state championships before being named the Gatorade National Player of the Year in 2012.

Through his first 15 practices as a Trojan he lived up to every bit of his five-star billing.

Browne showed maturity commanding the huddle and the ability to complete the playmaking passes downfield USC fans have come to expect.

The biggest question mark surrounding Browne's ability to start as a freshman remains in his ability to adjust to the speed of the game.

If you were able to catch the spring game you saw it first hand. The freshman couldn't run through his checks and get the ball off before the defensive line was on him and he was forced to take the sack.

That, though, the only glaring concern in Browne's game. If he can improve on that going into fall camp, he has as good of shot at winning the starting role as his two upperclassmen competitors.

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