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USC quarterback Cody Kessler gets a key opportunity

He takes most of the snaps with the first team during nighttime full-squad drills at the Coliseum, but Lane Kiffin still hasn't selected a starter for the opener Aug. 29 at Hawaii.

August 18, 2013|By Gary Klein
  • USC quarterback Cody Kessler put on another strong performance in Sunday night's practice session.
USC quarterback Cody Kessler put on another strong performance in Sunday… (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles…)

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USC practiced at the Coliseum on Sunday night, giving players an opportunity to work out under the Trojans' home stadium lights.

They shined bright on quarterback Cody Kessler.

Coach Lane Kiffin continues to hold off naming Kessler or Max Wittek the starter for the Aug. 29 opener at Hawaii, but Kessler took the majority of snaps with the first-team offense during full-squad drills.

Coaches, of course, could give Wittek most of the first-team reps Monday.

However, for one night anyway, Kessler's extended opportunity with the starters gave him a chance to build on his impressive Friday scrimmage performance and move ahead.

"That's one of the things Coach Kiffin says: He says don't read into that," Kessler said when asked about first-team snaps. "But I feel really comfortable with the first team. ... I feel like I'm in great control right now."

Asked about Kessler's and Wittek's performances, Kiffin said, "I don't know. We were scrambling around getting different drills done. I've got to go back and look at it. I'm not sure."

Whichever quarterback wins the starting job can look forward to throwing passes to Marqise Lee.

The All-American receiver continues to wear a yellow jersey to warn defenders against contact. But on Sunday, he aggressively utilized all of his athleticism for the first time since suffering a shoulder injury Aug. 9.

Lee leaped for balls and did not shy from incidental contact, jawing with safeties Josh Shaw and Su'a Cravens after they broke up passes.

USC has not made Lee available to the media since he was injured.

"Marqise needed a day like that," Kiffin said of Lee's workload Sunday. "He was really pushed on a number of deep routes and he had to come back and play the next play. It was good for him."

Also for the quarterbacks.

"He could be out of football for three years and come back … and just have it," Kessler said. "He's one of those guys that has that 'it' factor. It's just nice to have him to throw to."

Quick hits

Sophomore Kevon Seymour and junior Anthony Brown appear to lead the competition to start at cornerback, with Torin Harris sidelined because of injury. ... Freshman tailback Justin Davis participated in most drills for the first time since injuring an ankle in an Aug. 8 scrimmage. Senior tailback Silas Redd also participated in a few drills. ... Freshmen linebackers Quinton Powell and Michael Hutchings have done well in scrimmages and practices and appear on track to contribute this season. @latimesklein

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