Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Watching USC’s offensive performance against Washington State, it was easy to see that head coach and offensive play caller Lane Kiffin lacked confidence in his quarterbacks.
Not a single downfield pass was called or attempted, as Kiffin opted for a string of bubble screens, sweep passes and three-yard hitches in the passing game, which led to what wound up being the most inept passing game at USC since 1998.
On Monday, Kiffin announced through the athletic department that Cody Kessler would be his starter going forward, and in his weekly staged Monday interview, offered little explanation on why Kessler was the guy over Max Wittek, whom Kiffin seemed more comfortable with as early as two weeks ago at Hawaii.
But Kiffin has indicated at least an acknowledgement of the problems that have plagued USC’s passing attack.
After mentioning Saturday night that there wasn’t an offensive gameplan vs. Washington State, Kiffin asserted on Monday that a gameplan will be created for Kessler going forward.
Depending on just how much of a gameplan Kiffin plans on, it could see the redshirt-sophomore running plays are tailored to his skill set and moderate mobility.
That of course, would be a sign of confidence in Kessler, which Kiffin has blatantly failed to show, even when asked by the media.
Though for a coach with his back against the wall and approval rates lower than President Hoover, perhaps it’s about baby steps.
Kiffin tried to do just that in his weekly Pac-12 coaches conference today, rationalizing his silent praise/criticism of Kessler as a means of support.
"I just made a decision that, really, there’s so much negativity around them already outside of this building, to start pointing out what this guy didn’t do or why this guy got the job, I just don’t think this is the right thing to do for those kids who are going through a lot. So we’ve got to support ’em, we’ve got to coach better, play better around them and get a win this week."
It goes without saying that Kiffin put the nail on the head about the need to support, play and coach better. But is it worth staying mum and punting on a chance to rally behind Kessler publicly?
Maybe Kiffin finds it too hard to find positives to vocalize about his quarterbacks, but with head coaches bordering on politicians when it comes to rhetoric, you’d have to imagine he could find some sort of candor that wasn’t too demonstrative.