Day four looked like day one for the Trojans on Howard Jones field on Tuesday. After a week off for spring break, the USC team continued to adjust to Steve Sarkisian's new program.
"I thought our guys, after taking a week off, from a physical stand point looked good," said Sarkisian. "I think their willingness to work over spring break was good. Coming out of spring break, the staff had some things to look at fundamentally. As a repeat of practice one for practice four, I thought the guys really responded."
While the team did take some of the time off to relax and soak up some sun in some cases, Cody Kessler said he continued to work on the playbook over break as well.
"I think we just needed to get spring break out of our systems," said Kessler. "It was a good competitive day today to come out and I feel like we came out and the focus was right there. At the beginning guys weren't totally locked in, but at the end of the day guys were flying around."
"I think all the quarterbacks would say it was a much more comfortable practice than the three before," said Max Browne.
Browne traveled home to Washington for the break. Fortunately for No. 4, he had no family affected by the mudslides in Oso, WA, but he did say he is giving his thoughts and prayers to the victims.
Tuerk at Center Stage
Just call him Mr. Versatile. Max Tuerk has mastered the art of guard, tackle (left tackle to be exact), and now adds center to his repertoire. Tuerk moved there the first day of practice, and after talking with the coaches it looks like it will be a permanent transfer.
Tuerk was one of the first guys on Howard Jones on Tuesday and practiced the moves by himself before taking reps with Kessler.
After practice Kessler admitted that he really likes Tuerk at center. He said Tuerk is a "very competitive guy" and he beats himself up if he misses a snap or gets up too slowly. Luckily for Tuerk, he only missed one snap to Kessler yesterday. Looks like that hard work is paying off.
Quarterback Competition 2.0
Last season it was Cody and Max. This season it's Cody…and Max. Browne that is. Sarkisian's new practice structure constantly rotates the 1s and the 2s with both quarterbacks, but it did look like Kessler started with the 1s, and Browne ended with them.
"I'm still learning," said Kessler. "I'm being smart and not putting too much on competition and jumping around and yelling, but focusing and making sure guys are getting in the right position. But it's a lot of fun. I'm still trying to learn this offense and helping other guys learn it too."
Kessler's arm looked a lot stronger on day four than it did during the 2013 season. He said he took time during the offseason to workout with his coach and says he is a lot more confident in his arm now.
"I feel so much stronger and so much more in command. I feel like I can throw any route on the field."
Kessler's strong points have always been his short to midrange game, so that fact that his deep throws are getting sounder is a big plus for No. 6.
On the other side of the ball, the kid from Washington feels at home with Sarkisian's offense. He ran the up-tempo, no-huddle style in high school, but still gives the experience nod to Kessler as of now.
"He's got game experience, at the end of the day," said Browne. "I learned a lot from my redshirt year and I'm building on that."
If he wants to take the starting job, Browne says he'll need to perfect his consistency and prove he knows the playbook inside and out. Sarkisian never seems to wait until fall to name his starting QB, so we could see one of these two take the job soon.