In his first season as the starting quarterback, Cody Kessler had moments of brilliance and times where he looked like the first-year starter he was.
By the numbers: Completed 65.2% of pass attempts, 20 touchdowns, seven interceptions.
What went right: Once Kessler was named the outright starter heading into the game against Boston College on Sept. 14, the Bakersfield, Calif. product seemed to finally settle in.
Albeit in somewhat of an outlier performance, Kessler completed 88.2% of his pass attempts against the Eagles en route to 237 passing yards and two touchdowns.
Against then-No. 4 Stanford on Nov. 16, Kessler got the Trojans off on the right foot as he completed 12 of his 14 pass attempts as the Trojans took the early lead.
Kessler’s best performance in terms of passing yards came in the Las Vegas Bowl victory over Fresno State, where he threw for 344 passing yards, four touchdowns and a 73.3% completion percentage.
What went wrong: Kessler was toyed with by Lane Kiffin, whose decision to play both quarterbacks during the first two games of the season was perplexing.
During spring practice and fall camp, word out of Troy was Kessler was shining and primed to take hold of the position.
He managed to outperform Wittek, who had more in-game experience, but it apparently wasn’t enough.
Kiffin’s handling of the situation may have played a role in Kessler’s slower-than-desired development, but the quarterback eventually found his footing.
When things got rough, for example against UCLA, Kessler would tend to lock in on a receiver and not go through his progressions.
Making matters worse, Kessler’s pocket awareness was at times subpar.
What’s next: Kessler figures to have the inside track to retaining his starting position.
However, with Steve Sarkisian stating every position was up for grabs heading into 2014, Kessler will once again have to fight off Max Browne, Max Wittek, and possibly incoming freshman Jalen Greene.
Final Grade: A
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