When USC takes the field on Saturday at the Coliseum against Fresno State, they’ll know for certain who their quarterback is. It’s Cody Kessler.
As for their opponent, the Trojans are a bit in the dark. The Bulldogs are in the midst of quarterback competition between Duke-transfer Brandon Connette and Derek Carr backup Brian Burrell. Both will see action against USC, per Fresno State head coach Tim DeRuyter.
In a school-conducted Q&A on Monday via The Ripsit Blog, Steve Sarkisian said that he isn’t too concerned about who plays quarterback for Fresno State. Instead, he emphasized putting the onus on the Trojans’ defense to be prepared for anything.
"We’re prepping for the scheme more than the personnel. We know that they’re going to go no-huddle. They’re going to go up-tempo. They’re going to run the football. They’re going to throw the perimeter screens. Regardless of who’s back there, we have to be sound. We have to communicate really well. We have to make sure we’re aligned properly and are all on the same page with what we’re doing."
Going into fall camp, Connette looked to be the guy. A senior, Connette transferred to Fresno State from Duke with a graduate execption that permits him to play immediately. In three years, he saw the field 39 times at Duke and made four starts.
An athletic quarterback, Connette set the school record with 31 rushing touchdowns and brings a new wrinkle to the Fresno State offense that pocket-passer Carr didn’t have a year ago.
Despite the limited playing time, Connette completed three game-winning drives at Duke, which is the fourth-most among active quarterbacks in FBS. Ohio State’s Braxton Miller has the most with seven, while the Trojans’ Kessler has two.
Burrell, a pocket passer, is an under-the-radar junior college transfer out of Bakersfield College. He was 7-for-12 for 51 yards last season as the Bulldogs’ No. 2 quarterback.
As of now, Burrell and Connette remain co-starters on the Fresno State depth chart.
DeRuyter told the press on Monday that “there’s really been no differentiator to tell us this is the guy”, and the decision of who starts will be made on Saturday.