LOS ANGELES (AP) — Cody Kessler is still Southern California's starting quarterback after holding off a challenge from freshman Max Browne during the Trojans' spring workouts.
New coach Steve Sarkisian confirmed Kessler's spot Tuesday night, saying the junior will start the Trojans' spring game at the Coliseum on Saturday.
"I think he has deserved it," Sarkisian told reporters after USC's penultimate practice of the spring. "I think he has earned it. He has performed well. Sometimes when you get that sense of relief, you go out there and perform even better.
Kessler has picked up Sarkisian's offense with impressive speed, adjusting to an increased tempo and using his improvisational skills to create chances. His experience and decision-making skills tilted the competition in his favor, Sarkisian said.
His victory isn't permanent, however: The competition with freshmen Browne and Jalen Greene will continue in fall camp, Sarkisian said.
"That's the beauty of competition," Sarkisian said. "But I'm confident to say I know we can go out and win a lot of football games with Cody Kessler as our quarterback. There's still plenty of room for him to grow within this system. He's still just 13 practices in, but I'm proud of all these guys. They've worked extremely hard."
Kessler started all 14 games as a sophomore last season, passing for 2,968 yards with 20 touchdowns and seven interceptions while playing for three head coaches. He was the MVP of the Trojans' victory over Fresno State in the Las Vegas Bowl, passing for a career-high 345 yards and four TDs.
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