Two weeks remain in USC’s spring practice, and Coach Steve Sarkisian indicated Tuesday that he would announce a starting quarterback before the Trojans conclude workouts April 19.
“I would suspect we’ll do it before the end of spring,” Sarkisian said.
Junior Cody Kessler and redshirt freshman Max Browne have shared snaps through 10 workouts, but Kessler appears on track to start for the second consecutive season.
Kessler passed for 20 touchdowns, with seven interceptions, and led the Trojans to a 10-4 record in 2013. He finished the season with a record-setting performance in a Las Vegas Bowl victory over Fresno State, the Trojans’ first opponent in the upcoming season.
Sarkisian said he was closer to making a decision and reiterated that once he decided on the starter, he would “let it sit a little bit” and “maybe watch for a little bit as if it were that way and what it feels like.”
Kessler has had several passes intercepted during drills but has mostly appeared in command of the fast-paced, no-huddle offense that Sarkisian brought with him from Washington.
Last spring, Kessler and Max Wittek competed to replace Matt Barkley. Former coach Lane Kiffin extended the competition through summer, training camp and the first two games of the season.
Kessler said Tuesday that he pressed when Kiffin had indicated he was close to making a decision, so he will not make the same mistake of “trying to be perfect” and comparing himself to what the other quarterback was doing.
“That got in my head a little bit,” he said.
Browne continues to progress. On Tuesday, he completed another long touchdown pass to receiver Nelson Agholor.
On Saturday, Agholor caught a touchdown pass from Browne, but the speedy junior had to break a route and adjust to a ball that Browne threw to the wrong spot. Browne’s pass Tuesday was perfectly thrown and hit Agholor in stride.
“I feel like I’m in the hunt, right there, making some good throws,” Browne said.
Tailback Justin Davis averaged nearly seven yards per carry and scored six touchdowns in seven games as a freshman in 2013.
Davis’ season ended when he suffered an ankle injury against Notre Dame that required surgery.
Davis has been sidelined while recovering, but said that he was progressing.
“I want to get the playbook down so when I come back I’ll already know it and can jump right back in,” he said.
With tailbacks Davis, Javorius Allen, Ty Isaac and walk-on James Toland sidelined Tuesday, juniors Tre Madden and Jahleel Pinner shared reps.
Davis is looking forward to training camp and reestablishing himself. In 2013, former Washington running back Bishop Sankey ranked fourth nationally in rushing yardage in the same offense the Trojans have adopted.
“It’s definitely suited for a running back first,” Davis said. “So I’m excited to get my nose in there and run some plays.”
Sarkisian has not made freshman quarterback Jalen Greene, offensive linemen Toa Lobendahn and Jordan Austin, linebacker Don Hill or junior college transfer Claude Pelon available to the media, but said he probably would before the end of spring practice. “I just want to make sure when they do stand in front of microphones and cameras for the first time, they’re confident and they understand our messaging as a team,” Sarkisian said. ... The Trojans’ next practice is Thursday.