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USC's Lane Kiffin won't say who will start, Max Wittek or Cody Kessler

Trojans coach says both the quarterbacks do good things in final audition, a mock game at the Coliseum. It remains unknown whether Kiffin will reveal starter before game with Hawaii on Aug. 29.

August 21, 2013|By Gary Klein
  • USC quarterbacks Max Wittek, left, and Cody Kessler, right, walk off the field after a team scrimmage at the Coliseum on Aug. 16, 2013
USC quarterbacks Max Wittek, left, and Cody Kessler, right, walk off the… (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles…)

The auditions are over.

On Wednesday, in a mock game at the Coliseum, USC quarterbacks Max Wittek and Cody Kessler had final chances to convince Coach Lane Kiffin they deserve to start the Aug. 29 opener at Hawaii.

Wittek led three drives that resulted in field goals and also passed for a touchdown. Kessler had two passes intercepted but rebounded to pass for two touchdowns.

So the starter will be….

"I don't know that today cleared it up much more because both guys did some good things," Kiffin said after the 121-play game that, by design, featured no tackling.

USC is off Thursday before starting to concentrate on Hawaii game preparations.

Kiffin may have actually decided on a starting quarterback long ago. He could make it public in the next few days, or hold off announcing it until the Trojans run onto the field at Aloha Stadium.

Wittek and Kessler are eager to know.

"When Coach Kiffin is ready, he's going to be ready," Wittek said.

Star receiver Marqise Lee said he hoped to find out by Friday. "I'm sitting here just like you guys," Lee joked to reporters, "lost."

Lee caught eight passes for 107 yards before he aggravated a right shoulder injury he suffered two weeks ago. He said he would be fine for the opener.

But who will be throwing passes to Lee and receiver Nelson Agholor, who on Wednesday caught nine passes for 250 yards and three touchdowns?

Wittek and Kessler both served as captains for the starters during the coin flip Wednesday and they alternated series against a scout-team defense.

Kessler had not had a pass intercepted in Coliseum scrimmages dating to last spring. On Wednesday, one pass was tipped by a defender before it was intercepted by walk-on linebacker Nick Schlossberg. Another bounced off Lee and into the arms of walk-on safety John Auran.

Kessler, who completed 13 of 22 passes for 218 yards, connected with Agholor on scoring plays of 31 and 56 yards in the second half.

"I was proud of myself, coming back after," the interceptions, Kessler said.

Meantime, Wittek put behind his two-for-seven passing performance in the last scrimmage.

He completed 15 of 20 passes for 231 yards, without an interception, and connected with Agholor for a 38-yard touchdown.

"I was happy with the way I was able to throw the ball around the yard," Wittek said, adding, "I think I came out here, took care of the ball, managed the game and completed passes."

Quick hits

Andre Heidari kicked field goals of 21, 42 and 41 yards…. Defensive lineman Leonard Williams was credited with four "tackles" as the first-team defense dominated the scout-team offense…. Walk-on safety Matt Lopes had nine tackles for the scout team…. The starters were penalized seven times, the scout team once.

Twitter: @latimesklein

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