USC’s Lane Kiffin knows who will start at QB, but he isn’t saying

Will USC quarterback Cody Kessler, left, see the first snap of the season for the Trojans against Hawaii? Coach Lane Kiffin is staying quiet on the matter.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

USC Coach Lane Kiffin apparently is ahead of schedule.

Kiffin had said he would wait until the Trojans arrived in Hawaii before determining in what order quarterbacks Max Wittek and Cody Kessler might be used in Thursday’s opener.

But on Tuesday, with buses waiting on campus to transport the Trojans to the airport, Kiffin acknowledged that he had already made up his mind.

Not that he is sharing his plan.

“I can’t tell you,” he told reporters. “I’m not going to tell the end of a movie before you go to the movie, right?

“Now you’re going to have to watch.”

All eyes will be on the embattled Kiffin to see how he manages the situation.


He has said that “we anticipate” both Wittek and Kessler will play, that they will not alternate series and that they probably won’t alternate quarters.

Asked if he had addressed the quarterback situation with receivers, Kiffin said he “mentioned it” to All-American Marqise Lee.

“The receivers’ job is to line up and do their job and not worry about who the quarterback is,” Kiffin said, adding, “Just like we don’t make big announcements in the team room about what we’re doing at right corner, it’s no different.”

Cravens to start

Freshman Su’a Cravens, an early enrollee who had knee surgery during the spring, will start at safety with senior Josh Shaw, Kiffin said.

Cravens was the USA Today defensive player of the year as a senior at Vista Murrieta High.

“I came to ‘SC to try and get on the field as fast as I can,” he said during training camp.

Defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast expects that Cravens will develop as a safety and nickel back. He also could return punts.

“He’s one of those guys, you only have to tell him something once,” Pendergast said. “The light comes on and stays on.”

Cravens’ brother, Siaki, was a defensive lineman for Hawaii from 2010-2012. His sister, Malia, played basketball at Hawaii before transferring to USC.

Senior safety Dion Bailey, who returned to practice late last week after being slowed because of a hip injury, was among several veteran players — including tight end Randall Telfer and linebacker Morgan Breslin — whose status for the trip was uncertain.

“I feel more like we’re in Week 9 or Week 10 where you really have to figure things out because of injuries,” Kiffin said.

Quick hits

Junior tailback D.J. Morgan, who has not participated in contact drills because of a knee injury, was not traveling for the opener, Kiffin said. Senior Silas Redd also did not make the trip. Sophomore Tre Madden and freshman Justin Davis are expected to carry the load at tailback. . . . Offensive lineman Abe Markowitz and linebacker Simione Vehikite are USC players from Hawaii. Hawaii has 28 players from California. . . . Keith Uperesa, a former offensive line coach for the USC, is Hawaii’s director of player of personnel.