Kiffin: Max Wittek, Cody Kessler will both play at QB vs. Hawaii

By Jerry Hinnen | College Football Writer

Max Wittek hasn't yet beaten out Cody Kessler for the starting QB job. (USATSI)
Max Wittek hasn't yet beaten out Cody Kessler for the starting QB job. (USATSI) (USATSI)

Saying that neither quarterback had separated himself from the other during their prolonged offseason battle for the starting job, Lane Kiffin confirmed Saturday that both Max Wittek and Cody Kessler will play for USC in the Trojans' season opener at Hawaii.

"That really is how well both guys did," Kiffin said after practice, per the Associated Press. "For us, we look at it as a great thing. We've got two guys that we feel great about. We don't feel like we have to limit our offense with either one of them in there."

Both players are redshirt sophomores, though Wittek has the pair's only starting experience after taking over for Matt Barkley in the final two games of the Trojans' disappointing 2012 season. For the year, Wittek finished 36-of-69 for 5.6 yards-an-attempt and a 3-to-5 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Kessler has only two career passing attempts.

But Kessler impressed with his mobility and playmaking ability over the course of spring and fall camp, separating himself from highly-touted true freshman Max Browne -- now the third-stringer -- and making the starter's battle a dead heat.

Per the AP, Kiffin said the Trojans would not even make a decision on which quarterback would play the first series until the team landed in Honolulu Tuesday. The Trojans and Rainbow Warriors* will kick off at 11 p.m. ET Thursday on the college football season's opening night.

Kiffin did say he hoped to pick a single quarterback starter sooner rather than later, a sentiment the AP said had been echoed by All-American wideout Marqise Lee, who has expressed a desire to work on his timing with a single quarterback.

"Ideally, we're going to get to that," Kiffin said. "Ideally, we're not going to continue to do this all year. But at the same time, it can't just [pick one] because we've had a way of doing things before."

The quarterback announcement came as part of the release of USC's Week 1 depth chart, which features co-starters at four other offensive positions -- including tailback, fullback and right guard -- as well as quarterback. (Interestingly, it also includes the players' Twitter handles.)

The Trojans are currently listed as 22.5-point favorites over Hawaii, now in its second season under coach Norm Chow, the former USC offensive coordinator who worked alongside Kiffin under Pete Carroll.

*Yes, if you missed it, they're the "Rainbow Warriors" again, not just "Warriors." And the world is a little more right than it was.

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