Cody Kessler, Max Wittek still competing to start for USC

Could Max Wittek, left, and Cody Kessler each see time under center when USC opens its season against Hawaii on Aug. 29?
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

USC Coach Lane Kiffin will almost certainly choose a No. 1 quarterback before the Aug. 29 opener at Hawaii.

Or will he?

Despite a scheduled departure for Honolulu 10 days from Saturday, Kiffin reiterated that there was no timetable for picking Max Wittek or Cody Kessler — and he once again left open the possibility of making no choice at all.

“We don’t know when it’s going to happen,” Kiffin said after practice. “Ideally, we would not like to have two quarterbacks on opening day, but you never say never.”


The suspense might be testing the patience of Wittek, Kessler and USC fans, but the quarterbacks said they arrived for team meetings Saturday with no expectation that Kiffin would announce a starter.

“I’m not going to lie,” Kessler said. “When we first started camp you’re kind of thinking, ‘It’s going to be now. It’s going to be next week. It’s going to be …'

“And then I was just like, you know, I can’t do that because if I do that I’m going to drive myself crazy.”

Kessler impressed on Friday by passing for 231 yards and three touchdowns, without a pass intercepted, in a scrimmage at the Coliseum.

Wittek, working mainly against the first-team defense, completed only two passes for 15 yards.

After reviewing the scrimmage, Kiffin said “the numbers got out of whack” and remained noncommittal when asked whether one quarterback performed better than the other.

“They’re always going to be different in their own ways,” Kiffin said, adding that Kessler played “really well” and that Wittek’s performance was affected by going against the starting defense without several frontline offensive players available because of injuries.

On Saturday, Wittek went first with the first-team offense during a pre-practice drill, the seven-on-seven portion of practice and a full-team scrimmage drill.

Bailey mending

Safety Dion Bailey remains sidelined because of a hip injury, but he said he would be ready to play in the opener.

“Thinking positive thoughts equals positive results,” Bailey said.

Bailey, who had a team-best four interceptions in 2012, is transitioning to free safety and nickel back after starting the last two seasons at linebacker.

Bailey was settling into his new roles when he was injured during a drill last week. He said he had attempted to stop quickly while running full speed.

“It was painful the first day, but it’s getting better and better every day, so it’s looking good,” he said.

Quick hits

Receiver Victor Blackwell was on crutches and his left knee was in a brace…. Leonard Williams George UkoHayes Pullard Su’a Cravens Tailbacks Justin Davis and Silas Redd participated in a few drills, but Tre Madden was held outD.J. Morgan.… USC is ranked No. 24 in the Associated Press preseason media poll. @latimesklein