USC head coach Lane Kiffin said after Friday's scrimmage that the film will tell the story. His initial impressions of the day? Well, he just didn't seem to have any (that he was willing to share).
But if you had to make a decision naming the new starting quarterback based off results alone from what was seen on the field, redshirt sophomore Cody Kessler would be the man.
Both Kessler and Wittek each ran six series through the 68-play scrimmage. Kessler finished 19 of 28 for 231 yards and three touchdowns including a 30-yard pass to Buck Allen.
"I think overall as an offensive unit, we played great today," Kessler said. "There is some stuff I can improve on. I beat myself up when I missed [De'Von] Flournoy on a fade and Nelson on another one. But on those plays, those are six points and you can't really miss on those."
Wittek, taking snaps with the first team, finished just 2 of 7 for 15 yards. All six of his series resulted in three-and-out… though it must be mentioned, multiple times on third down and yards to go, Kiffin called a running plays.
"The numbers got lopsided today because of the defense, so many three and outs versus the first offense so the numbers go really lopsided," Kiffin explained. "They weren't supposed to be that way."
Neither quarterback turned the ball over, a crucial component to winning the starting role. "I think they took care of the ball well," Kiffin said. "All of the decisions we'll go back and watch the film to see and know the exact situations and how they did."
As for how this will all breakdown in the quarterback – and team – evaluation? "I don't know," Kiffin said post-scrimmage. "Any time that you're in a scrimmage format against yourselves it's kind of hard to evaluate because you've got one side doing well and the other side isn't. So we'll go back and look at it."
Kiffin emphasized that he would have liked to known who his starter was "a long time ago," but that this battle isn't about his preferences, it's about naming the "right" guy.
Rogers lights it up
A year ago it was uncertain if Darreus Rogers would ever make it to USC. Part of the 2012 recruiting class, Rogers was unable to gain academic clearance and had to delay enrollment until December.
The freshman appears to be well worth the wait. Friday's was Rogers day and he stole the show, catching 8 passes for 99-yards including two touchdowns.
"He made a couple plays again, with a hurt shoulder, he continues to show up," Kiffin said. "There hasn't been a day he hasn't made plays when he's out there. He's a special player."
Kessler's sixth and final series of the scrimmage resulted in a touchdown pass to Rogers, who went up for the jump ball over cornerback Kevon Seymour, making a seemingly tough grab look rather routine.
"I told him when you're one-on-one like that and I can put it up and you can go get it, that's a big time trust thing," Kessler said. "You can do that with Marqise and Nelson and be able to have Darreus do that too and have that trust in him is awesome."
All about the defense
It's always tough tell when the team is playing itself, but according to Kiffin, it wasn't necessarily that the first team offense wasn't doing well, it was that the first team defense was executing very well.
Asked if the team brought energy to the scrimmage, Kiffin responded, "I thought the defense did well. Especially the first unit from beginning to end. The offense didn't have a lot of it, it seemed like. They were also missing some leadership guys who were out for injury too."
Returning to the defensive line for Friday's scrimmage since being sidelined with an undisclosed injury as Leonard Williams. Freshman Su'a Cravens also participated in the full-contact scrimmage. Cravens, looking more like a veteran than a first year player, made five tackles, three for a loss and sacked the quarterback twice.
Redshirt junior linebacker Hayes Pullard made multiple impressive stops on defense at the line of scrimmage. He finished with four tackles on the day.
Freshman Chris Hawkins, playing with the second team defense, nearly picked off Kessler. Had he held onto the ball, Hawkins would've completed a pick-six. Hawkins made four tackles.
Freshman linebacker Quinton Powell is starting make his presence known. Powell records five tackles, one for a loss playing with the second team defense.
Tailback Buck Allen continued to make his case for a spot in the rotation. Allen had 11 carries for 22 yards. He caught a 30-yard touchdown pass from Kessler, showing versatility in his game. He also broke multiple tackles throughout the scrimmage to pick up extra yards.
There was only one penalty in the first fall scrimmage, but three on Friday. Two of them on defense. Devian Shelton picked up a pass interference call during Kessler's first series. It was a deep pass intended for De'Von Flournoy and most likely would have resulted in a touchdown, but fell incomplete.
Darreus Rogers 8 catches for 99 yards, 2 touchdowns
De'Von Flournoy 6 catches for 49 yards
Buck Allen 3 catches for 51 yards, touchdown
Ty Isaac, 12 carries for 38 yards
Buck Allen 11 carries for 22 yards
Gerald Bowman 6 tackles, sack
Quinton Powell 5 tackles, tackle for loss
Su'a Cravens 5 tackles, 2 sacks, 3 for a loss
Hayes Pullard 4 tackles
Michael Hutchings 4 tackles
Chris Hawkins 4 tackles
Demetrius Wright 4 tackles
3 penalties, 2 on defense
Kessler to Rogers, 7 yard pass
Kessler to Allen, 30 yard pass
Kessler to Rogers, 3 yard pass Browne to Minor, 28 yard pass