Max Browne Looks to Give USC Two Starting Quarterbacks


The Trojans entered spring camp with a defined No. 1 starter at quarterback in Cody Kessler. Now, with the rapid maturation of Max Browne as his surefire backup, USC could have a No. 1A. That’s a really good thing for the 2015 Trojans.

Redshirt sophomore Max Browne has a pair of things on his checklist this year. The first being to truly establish himself as the favorite to be Kessler’s successor.

With the Heisman Trophy candidate and record book dweller graduating at the end of the season, plus a host of talented youngsters vying to replace him, including dual-threat 2015 signee and Steve Sarkisian’s exciting new toy Sam Darnold, Browne had to try and win the job now, even if that is not technically possible.

Secondly, and perhaps most importantly to the Trojans’ cause, Browne needed to prove that he is capable of running the offense now.

The 2016 season looks to be the first year in which USC could be a legitimate national title contender. Adoree’ Jackson and JuJu Smith will be juniors, the offensive line will have ideally matured together as a formidable unit and the Trojans have a schedule the impress voters.

But with Alabama looming in Week 1, even the most talented team in recent years could face a learning curve if USC trots out an unprepared quarterback for a Nick Saban defense that had nine months to prepare.

Aug 30, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans quarterback Max Browne (4) carries the ball against the Fresno State Bulldogs at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. USC defeated Fresno State 52-13. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

So time is precious. Plus, given Matt Barkley’s disastrous senior season both in terms of stagnation and health, a Browne that’s ready sooner rather than later is well-needed insurance for Kessler.

And right on cue, Browne has embraced a role as an ‘alternate starter’, with Sarkisian giving him the highest praise possible

Sark told reporters that he’d have no issues starting Browne in place of Kessler should the need arise this season. That was not the case last year.

In 2014, Brown saw time in six games, most of it in garbage time. The lone rep he received with any importance was a redzone snap in place of Kessler against Utah. It was an incompletion, though ultimately harmless.

More tellingly, Browne looked out of his depth. Given the circumstances that is no surprise, but it did him no favors in terms of perception.

This spring he has done himself plenty of favors, progressing as USC hoped he would when he signed as the No. 1 pro-style quarterback in the country.

Before camp started, much was made about the potential head start Ricky Town could have as an early enrollee on his way to challenging Browne for the back up job and the starting job going forward.

Instead, it has become increasingly clear that Browne is as settled in that spot as Kessler was settled as the starter in 2014’s spring.

Stability at any position is an important piece of the football puzzle, but stability at quarterback is the top priority. USC has that settled with the end of spring on the horizon.

Looking forward even further, the Trojans, in a strange way, may even enter the 2016 with a “returning starter” at quarterback. Albeit one who finished the year at No. 1A.

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