Monday Mailbag: Max Browne’s Playing Time, Fast Receivers and Tight Ends


Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

We’ve been fielding your questions for our Mailbag Monday feature, so let’s celebrate the start of the work week by getting right into your questions on the USC Trojans.

Tim from Facebook: Can Max Browne see the field this year, even in a backup role?

Michael Castillo, Reign of Troy: While yes, he sure ‘can’ see the field, my gut feeling surprisingly says no. Yes, Browne is/was the sexy pick to win the quarterback job as a true freshman a la Matt Barkley in 2009, but the reality is that barring a further setback from Max Wittek, he hasn’t been given the time that Kessler and Wittek has so far and doesn’t necessarily seem to be on track to get more. Lane Kiffin and Clay Helton run a deep playbook based on reading coverages and recognizing check-downs, something that numerous pundits have alluded to as a difficulty for a true freshman to adapt to in just one spring camp under Kiffin. Plus, throughout the first week, Cody Kessler was stellar for the Trojans. He earned MVP praise from Kiffin on Tuesday before a late interception to Jabari Ruffin, and has subsequently earned top billing on the Trojans’ internal depth chart both on Thursday and Saturday, a streak that is expected to hold through Tuesday’s practice. If Kessler continues to play well, Browne’s likelihood of redshirting drastically increases by the day. Even if the loser of Kessler vs. Wittek were to transfer after the competition is decided –if it’s somehow determined at the end of spring– Browne then would play the role of Kessler and Wittek in 2011, not 2012, keeping him off the field. That year, Kiffin redshirted both quarterbacks despite having them as the No. 2 and No. 3 quarterbacks on the depth chart, and used walk-on John Manoogian as the in-game backup for mop-up duty in the fourth quarter. It’s really early to see that scenario come into play, but either way, Browne looks to be on the outside looking in. But again, it’s early and Wittek’s injury puts things in perspective just a tad.

Andrew from Twitter: Who is the fastest looking receiver?

Michael: Nelson Agholor. While George Farmer is the guy that everyone remembers from out-sprinting De’Anthony Thomas in high school, until he can put up consistent health and speed in-game, it’s hard to say he’s the fastest guy, as convoluted as that is. The bottom line is that Agholor just plays faster than Farmer so far this spring, in every aspect, from footwork to route running. That’s not to say that Farmer is slow or under-performing, but more so of a testament to how motivated Agholor is at taking over for Robert Woods as the team’s split end.

Josh from Facebook: When will Kiffin learn how to run an offense and use his skill set players and tight ends more?

Michael: Since Clay Helton is now the title holder of ‘offensive coordinator’ and he has had considerable more time with the offensive players and than Kiffin thus far in practice, it would seem as though a change in offensive hierarchy is in order. Yes, again, it’s still early and the Trojans have only had three spring practices, but if Helton’s role is any indication, Kiffin just might now be the one to call those shots on an immediate level. Of course, we won’t know that officially for a while. Though, to play devil’s advocate and get back on the subject, Kiffin used the tight ends a ton in 2012 in the passing and running game, just not as targets. Randall Telfer’s primary role in 2012 was to be a blocker for Marqise Lee off the edge and split wide, a role that he could manage with his reoccurring ankle injury. That said, both Telfer and Xavier Grimble have the talent to be top-flight tight ends in the game, and it would certainly behoove the Trojans to use them more as passing targets and not just decoys, now that Robert Woods has moved on to the NFL.

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