Kessler, 'This is my job'

USC redshirt junior quarterback Cody Kessler led the Trojans in a voluntary throwing session Wednesday on Cromwell Field. He then discussed with Scout the installation of Sarkisian's new offense and the upcoming quarterback battle...

USC quarterback Cody Kessler led a handful of Trojan players in a voluntary throwing session Wednesday on campus at Cromwell Field.

Though the starting quarterback job will be up for grabs when spring practices open, there was no doubt on this winter afternoon that Kessler is the proven leader and quarterback to beat for the role.

The redshirt junior arrived armed with the new playbook under first-year coach Steve Sarkisian. The Trojans haven't been able to install any of Sarkisian's new up-tempo offense, nor will they until spring practices start March 11.

In the meantime, however, Kessler wants to familiarize himself and his teammates with the new system as much as possible.

"We haven't had time to meet with the coaches and go over the new plays," Kessler told Scout after the workout. "But I know it is a lot of the same stuff, just different terminology.

"It's a lot of the same concepts because Coach Sark was here before and that's where his offense came from, when he was under Pete Carroll and we still run the same stuff they ran, but it's a lot more up-tempo as everyone knows."

Kessler says under former coach Lane Kiffin, the Trojan quarterbacks kept about a 70-30 or 60-40 ration of under-center to shotgun formations.

In Sarkisian's offense, Kessler expects to be in the shotgun more than 90 percent of the time.

"We might do some under-center stuff," Kessler explained. "I heard coach talking about it since we were so successful running the football under center and a lot of play action stuff we might do some of it… but the majority of the time we'll be out of the shotgun and that's just how the offense works."

If run correctly, the offense will be fast. It's been likened by analysts as "basketball on the gridiron".

"Guys are going to have to get into shape," Kessler chuckled. "That's what we've been doing, working out, and conditioning a lot and guys have really been catching on and they're doing a good job."

The speed of the game is supposed to be so quick, in fact, that the familiar image of Trojan quarterbacks flipping through a rolodex-like wristband of plays will become a sight of the past. Signals and play cards are expected to replace the difficult and complicated terminology of a traditional pro-style offense that would be signaled in to the quarterback before he would divulge the information to his huddle.

"[It's now about] being able to look over at the sideline and there is really no words being said," explained Kessler. "It's pretty much through signs and a couple hand signals and then you go.

"It's a lot quicker than getting the play, looking at the wristband, telling them the play, so I think for me the biggest thing is the sense of urgency and get guys going and lined up."

As for the looming quarterback battle that will couple the installation of USC's new offense during spring practices? Kessler is confident coming off the ten-win season he led the Trojans to that he'll be able to build off its momentum and once again earn the starting title.

He will be challenged by redshirt freshman Max Browne and freshman midyear enrollee Jalen Green for the spot.

"I feel 100% confident," Kessler said. "That's how you have to go in there. This is my job and that's how you have to approach it… I'm going to go in there prepared to win every game this year and prepare to win a Pac-12 Championship and set ourselves up to play in a big time game at the end of the season and hopefully around January."

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