The Norman Transcript

National Sports

August 29, 2013

Southern Cal faces injury, QB questions at Hawaii

HONOLULU — USC coach Lane Kiffin knows the order in which quarterbacks Max Wittek and Cody Kessler will audition for the Trojans’ starting job during the season opener in Hawaii.

But he’s not telling.

“I’m not going to tell you the end of the movie before you go to the movie, right?” Kiffin said before boarding a plane to Honolulu for Thursday’s season opener. “You’re going to have to watch.”

No. 24 USC is favored by more than three touchdowns against Hawaii, which received the fewest votes in the Mountain West conference preseason poll and was picked to finish last in the West Division.

USC will play without tailback Silas Redd, who didn’t make the trip to Hawaii as he recovers from an injury.

Wittek vs. Kessler:Both sophomores are trying to replace Matt Barkley, who set 20 USC records during his 4-year career. Wittek is more experienced — he started the final two games last season after Barkley hurt a shoulder — but didn’t distinguish himself enough this preseason to earn the starting title over Kessler. Kessler spent the bulk of 2012 holding placekicks, completing just 2 of 2 passes for 9 yards.

Freshman Max Browne is not expected to play.

Lee’s start: Nobody will perhaps care more about how USC’s quarterback indecision plays out than Marqise Lee, who could contend for a Heisman Trophy this year if things play out right for the team and his stat line. Lee had 118 catches for 1,721 yards and 14 touchdowns last year, leading to the Biletnikoff Award as college football’s best wide receiver. In the opener against Hawaii, he had 10 catches for 197 yards, including a 75-yard touchdown catch on USC’s first offensive play. This year, Lee will certainly be the biggest target for opposing defenses, starting with the Rainbow Warriors.

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