No starting quarterback at USC

USC head coach Lane Kiffin announced Saturday that he will play both Cody Kessler and Max Wittek in the Trojans' season opener at Hawaii on Thursday.

When asked if he could foresee USC running a two-quarterback system at Pac-12 Media Day in July, USC head coach Lane Kiffin said it wouldn't be ideal but that he would "never say never".

Thursday will be the day.

USC released Kiffin's Hawaii game-week depth chart on Saturday. Nine positions listed co-starters.

Including quarterback.

After practice, Kiffin opened with a statement to the media. The way he started, it seemed as though the head coach was ready to name his man – between redshirt sophomores Max Wittek and Cody Kessler.

Turns out, he was only about to solidify what our eyes had already seen on the chart.

"After a lot of research, a lot of thought, communication from our whole offensive staff and really breaking down all of spring and all of fall," Kiffin explained, "we've made a decision that we anticipate playing both guys in the opening game."

So, after battling to be Barkley's backup, battling to come out ahead during spring and then spending the three weeks of fall camp trying to earn the starting spot, both Kessler and Wittek remain where they started.

Not starting.

Kiffin will decide who will lead the first series against the Hawaii when the Trojans land in the Aloha State. No decision has been made on how the reps will be divided during the game.

The head coach broke the news to his players by taking both into his office on Saturday morning. "[He] said ‘Look you both are superstar quarterbacks, you're great quarterbacks and it's tough for me to pick a single one so we're going to go with both of you," Kessler explained.

Kessler, who has never started a game at quarterback at USC, didn't express disappointment at Kiffin's decision but optimism about getting a shot. "For me personally, I'm just looking for an opportunity to play in a game," he said. "Obviously we were going back and forth and each of us wanted to win, but at the end of the day it is Coach Kiffin's decision and whatever decision he thinks is best for the team, we're going to go with it and trust in it."

Wittek, who started in losses against both No. 1 Notre Dame in 2012 as well as against Georgia Tech in the Sun Bowl, said "We're just going to prepare day by day, practice by practice as we would…I just look forward to continuing this competition with Cody."

Though Kiffin was careful not to reveal anything about the competition through camp and often emphasized that reps taken with first or second team squads were as inconsequential as the small differences in the number of reps, it appeared through the three weeks of fall camp that Kessler was in the driver's seat of the competition. But apparently on film, he didn't separate himself enough.

"This is really about how well both of the guys did," Kiffin said. "At times when you think maybe it was going to start to separate, the other guy would come and have a big day. For us, we look at it as a great thing. We have two guys we feel great about."

The Trojans kickoff the season Thursday Aug. 29 at Hawaii.

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