After beginning the Steve Sarkisian era at USC with resounding win over Fresno State and a squeaking out a nail-biter against Stanford, the Trojans went on to lose two of their next three games.
They’ve since rebounded to go 3-1 with Cody Kessler putting together another strong year as the starting quarterback. In his second season as the Trojans’ signal caller, Kessler ranks sixth nationally in passing efficiency and he didn’t throw an interception until the sixth game of the season.
With three games remaining on USC’s schedule, including dates with rivals UCLA and Notre Dame, Kessler already has an eye on 2016. In an interview with Pete Arbogast and Jeanne Zelasko of KFWB The Beast 980, Kessler said he hopes draft-eligible players will return:
"We have a lot of underclassmen that are really athletic and have been playing together for a long time, and have really gotten to know each other. My goal right now is to make sure everybody comes back next year. That’s where my mind is at right now. I want to make sure everybody comes back so we can be successful.”"
Although the deck is stacked against them, the Trojans remained in contention for a berth to the Pac-12 title game with their win over Washington State. Kessler threw for 400 yards and five touchdowns against the Cougars two weeks after he had seven touchdowns against Colorado — setting a school record.
To this point, Kessler has improved his completion percentage and average-per-completion compared to the 2013 season. With 2,548 passing yards, Kessler is on pace to eclipse his total from last year of 2,968; the redshirt junior’s 25 touchdowns already surpassed the 20 he had in 2013.
Sarkisian has relied on a bevy of talented freshman and underclassmen and Kessler presumably would have no shortage of weapons at his disposal. Notable upperclassmen that Kessler would need to convince to return to USC includes Nelson Agholor, Buck Allen and Leonard Williams.
The Bakersfield, Calif. product has discussed the time he spent learning under Matt Barkley and his decision to return for a senior season would follow in the former Trojan’s footsteps.
However, Kessler potentially returning would also create a bit of a logjam with Max Browne and Jalen Greene on the roster, and Ricky Town set to join the Trojans with the 2015 class.
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