LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — University of Southern California head coach Lane Kiffin has made a decision on a starting quarterback.

Cody Kessler is the new starting quarterback for the USC Trojans, Kiffin announced Monday.

The starting job was up for grabs since Spring, however, neither quarterback performed well enough in camp to run away with the torch, so ambiguously passed down from Matt Barkley.

“We made a decision to go with Cody, and we’re excited about how he’s going to play Saturday,” Kiffin said.

Both of USC’s games so far this season have seen Kessler start the first half with fellow sophomore Max Wittek taking over in the second.

Kessler has completed 18 of 32 passes for the Trojans (1-1), in USC’s win over Hawaii and in Saturday night’s ugly 10-7 loss to Washington State at the Coliseum. He has thrown two interceptions and ran for a touchdown against the Cougars.

Wittek has completed 8 of 18 passes for 90 yards with an interception.

“I think that it will help us general, just knowing that it is one (quarterback) right now, and we can game plan around that,” Kiffin said. “And now we can get off of the 50-50 reps and get back to Cody getting the majority of the reps.”

Between the two, USC passed for only 54 yards against Washington State — the lowest for the Trojans in 15 years.

“We were just totally inept in the passing game, as bad as it can possibly be,” Kiffin said. “When we get the passing game fixed, we’re going to win a lot of games with that.”

There were chants of “Fire Kiffin” from the crowd throughout the Trojans loss on Saturday night, largely due to Kiffin’s inability to trust his quarterback to throw the ball. Tailback Tre Madden recorded 32 carries on Saturday night, and said he felt beaten up after the game.

Through naming an official starter, Kiffin may be taking the first step towards opening up the throwing game, and calling some plays that involve passing down the field.


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