QB battle is key feature of scrimmage

The Trojans held the second scrimmage of fall camp Friday with a lot of attention being paid to the quarterback competition.

Max Wittek got the start with the first unit today after Cody Kessler had started in the first scrimmage. Unfortunately for Max, he was going up against a fired up first unit defense today and he was never able to get things going as evidenced by the fact that the first four series for Wittek and the first unit were all three plays and out.

Among the highlight plays for the defense in those early series was a sack by Leonard Williams and a tackle for loss by Su’a Cravens who did a good job tracking down Buck Allen from the back side.

Meanwhile, Kessler led the second unit to a touchdown on his opening drive. Things got started with a first-down pass to Darreus Rogers and then a powerful run for another first down by Buck Allen, who ran over Devian Shelton. Quinton Powell slowed the momentum of the offense for a moment by getting into the backfield for a five-yard tackle for loss on Allen. The ball was eventually moved to the seven-yard line where Kessler hit Rogers for a touchdown.

“That first long drive gave us a sense of confidence,” Kessler said. “You get in a rhythm right away and start making plays so it feels good.”

On the next drive for Kessler, the most notable play was a screen attempt to the right side that was read by Chris Hawkins, who got a great jump and had two hands on the ball with nothing but green grass between him and the end zone but the ball was dropped.

Kris Albarado came on to do some punt drills. He kicked one that Nelson Agholor took deep in his end and returned for a long touchdown against a defense that was not in full tackle mode.

Devon Kennard had a pass break-up on an attempt from Wittek to De’Von Flournoy.

Kessler hit Buck Allen on the run with a pretty pass for a first down and then hit Rogers with another first down pass. Allen then caught a screen pass and weaved nicely through the defense for a 32-yard score.

The quarterbacks then switched with Kessler going with the 1’s and Wittek with the 2’s. Both went three and out on the first series, George Uko had a nice pursuit on Buck Allen to force a loss.

On the following possession for Kessler we saw just how impressive Rogers can look. Kessler launched a pass 50 yards in the air down the right sideline and Rogers was able to come down with the ball over good coverage from Kevon Seymour. Kessler then hit Agholor with a bubble screen, he shook Seymour and was able to gain additional yardage. With the ball on the three-yard line, Kessler rolled right and lofted a jump ball to Rogers against Seymour for the score.

“I just put it up there and Darreus came down with it,” Kessler said. “It’s a trust thing, I trust that he’s going to make the play if I give him a chance.”

Max Browne came on with the third unit offense that featured a lot of running from Ty Isaac. Browne ended a nice drive by hitting walk-on Aaron Minor, who made a great catch for the 29-yard score.

On the final drive of the day, Cravens had a sack on Wittek and Pullard had a big hit on Isaac.

Key stats

Kessler 19-28, 231 yards, 3 TDs; Wittek: 2-7, 15 yards; Browne: 2-2, 42 yards, 1 TD

Allen: 11 carries, 22 yards, 3 catches, 51 yards, 1 TD; Isaac: 12 carries, 38 yards

Rogers: 8 catches, 99 yards, 2 TDs; Flournoy: 6 catches, 49 yards

Bowman: 6 tackles, 1 sack; Powell: 5 tackles, 1 TFL; Cravens: 5 tackles, 2 sacks, 3 TFL

68 plays; 3 penalties; 0 turnovers