How Good Will USC Be?

QB Kessler Is a Heisman Candidate


August 27, 2015

By Mitch Chortkoff

Sports Editor

Cody Kessler compiled impressive statistics last season as the USC quarterback. Impressive enough that you’d think NFL teams would want him.

But the NFL was only lukewarm on Kessler. Maybe he wasn’t tall enough. Maybe they found faults.

For whatever reason Kessler didn’t declare for the NFL draft and returned to USC for his senior season where’s he’s regarded as a candidate to win the Heisman trophy.

That alone gives the Trojans reason to be optimistic about the upcoming season.

There are other reasons for optimism.

Oregon’s masterful quarterback, Marcus Mariota, has gone into the NFL. And although the Ducks are happy with new QB Vernon Adams, he has to prove he’s as good as advertised.

Then there’s the fact that UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley, who presided over three years of wins over USC, is also in the NFL.

USC, which won nine games last season, was picked to win the Pac-12 South at the conference’s recent media day.

But some key Trojan players won’t be returning.

Receiver Nelson Agholor bolted to the NFL and premier interior defender Leonard Williams moved on too.

JuJu Smith and Adoree Jackson head a talented group of receivers and Justin Davis could be a key running back reserve.

Tre Martin is the premier ball carrier. Iman Marshall is a freshman cornerback who intercepted a Kessler pass and returned it for a touchdown in a recent scrimmage. Sophomore Max Browne was a heralded quarterback recruit who hasn’t yet made an impact at USC. He may get playing time as Kessler’s backup.

Powerhouse Oregon should be a conference contender if not the all-out favorite and Stanford has the conference’s best group of big and powerful tight ends.

But Steve Sarkisian hopes to build on the success of last season when the Trojans won the most games a Sarkisian team has won in his head coaching career which began at Washington.

USC will open its season on Sept. 5 against Arkansas State in the first of three consecutive home games. The next week it’ll be Idaho and then Stanford in the season’s first Pac-12 contest.

Overall USC will have seven home games, including the annual cross-town meeting with UCLA on November 28.


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