Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

USC vs. Fresno State Report Card: Grading QB Cody Kessler's Performance

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USC romped to a big 52-13 win over Fresno State on Saturday evening at the Coliseum, impressing a lot doubters along the way. One of the most impressive components to outcome was redshirt junior quarterback Cody Kessler, who dazzled in his second season opener. Here’s our report card for the Trojans’ signal caller:

Kessler was 25-for-37 for 394 yards, and threw four touchdowns without an interception. Those numbers are all career highs, with 25 completions and 37 attempts tying a mark set against Stanford.

With Marqise Lee and Xavier Grimble gone, in addition to a new offense being installed, there was a good chance that the USC passing game could have taken a few drives to develop a rhythm in a game setting.

That didn’t happen, partly because of Kessler’s play.

He looked as he did towards the end of last season, when he was arguably one of the Pac-12’s best quarterbacks in November and December after struggling early in the year.

Kessler completed four passes for first downs on a 17-play, 90-yard drive to start the game and it was downhill from there.

We talked at length two weeks ago about whether or not Kessler would be able to take the next step to becoming an “elite quarterback”, concluding that he would only progress as fast as his offensive line would allow him to. They did that.

On Saturday night, Kessler routinely had all day to throw in the pocket, and on the occasion when he was flushed out, he consistently made smart choices.

He found third and fourth read check downs for first down pick ups, scrambled for 28 yards without being sacked, threw balls away when he had to and did not throw an interception.

That’s what you want to see out of Kessler. Futhermore, it’s exactly the performance that he’ll need to have if the Trojans want to snap Stanford’s 18-game home winning streak next week.

Grade: A

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