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USC football: Quarterback Cody Kessler makes a move

August 9, 2011 | 11:34 am

Kessler_275 Injuries forced Matt Barkley to sit out one game in each of the last two seasons, so finding a capable backup quarterback is one of USC’s priorities during training camp.

Freshman Cody Kessler took a big first step toward challenging redshirt freshman Jesse Scroggins for the job with an efficient and mostly poised performance in USC’s first scrimmage on Monday night.

Linebacker Dion Bailey intercepted a pass by Kessler and returned it for a touchdown, but Kessler appeared unfazed. He completed 15 of 18 passes for 187 yards and three touchdowns against reserves (first-unit defensive linemen, middle linebacker Chris Galippo and safety T.J. McDonald were held out of the second half) and impressed with an array of throws.

Coach Lane Kiffin described the 6-foot-1, 210-pound Kessler as “a gamer,” saying the former Bakersfield Centennial High star was “Not the guy that walks on the field in warm-ups and blows you away.

“There’s been a lot of guys like that that have been great quarterbacks. A lot of that has to do with his work ethic and the way he approaches the game. He’s very mature in his approach to being great.”


The Times' Gary Klein discusses USC's first scrimmage

Simplicity is the Trojans' new mantra on defense

-- Gary Klein

Photos: Cody Kessler. Credit: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times