USC Football News: Kessler, Cravens Preach Leadership


This year’s USC football team enters the season with a fair amount of hype and expectations, the most since being a preseason No. 1 team in 2012.

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But for veterans Cody Kessler and Su’a Cravens, neither of which have played on a team with national title expectations, a key to the season is serving as the team’s leaders on offense and defense, respectively.

They’re doing so in entirely different ways.

For Cravens, who is now the defense’s most vocal player following the departure of team captain Hayes Pullard, it comes down to being a teacher on the practice field.

That’s a critical point for young players especially, as summer workouts are player-run practices with coaches unable to participate.

“I notice mistakes that they make,” said Cravens. “I made the same exact ones two years ago, [and] guys like Marqise Lee and George Farmer and Silas Redd would pull me aside, even if they didn’t play the same position and tell me, ‘you’ve gotta do this’.”

That’s a proactive approach that should pay dividends in building both camaraderie and peer expectations. Kessler meanwhile, embraces his role as a leader on a more basic level.

He is the quarterback, therefore it is his team. And his guys and their ultimate cumulative successes are subsequently his responsibility.

“I take it personal,” said Kessler. “If we lose a game, it’s on me. There’s no way around it.”

That’s the kind of mindset you can have as a fifth-year senior who has seen it all at USC, despite not winning anything but a pair of sub-optimal bowl games.

He’s been seen how Matt Barkley’s senior season went and he’s played through the rock bottom beginning of the 2013 season.

By owning it all, team and all, Kessler puts himself in a position to write his legacy on account of the team. A legacy not tied to expectations or meaningless fluff.

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