LOS ANGELES-Cody Kessler is good. No, he’s better than good. He’s Heisman Trophy-watch good. After having one of the best seasons as a Trojan quarterback in the history of the school last season when he threw for 3, 826 yards and 39 touchdowns with just 5 INTs, Kessler is doing pretty wonderful these days.
Kessler’s buckwild numbers last season compared to a much tamer production cycle in 2013 in which he completed only 20 touchdowns and threw 7 interceptions, raised more than a few eyebrows. It removed the roof of expectations for this season for both Kessler and the Trojans.
“I really believe we’re where we want to be,” Kessler said during the Pac-12 Conference Media Day. “I feel like we’re in the position to have this year to be the year we want it to be. I feel like these guys have worked so hard….that’s why I wish people could see…how hard this team has worked in the weight room.
“The coolest thing I think is that in the history of USC football, we have the highest GPA as a team in the history of the school. That just shows you that these guys are going to class, these guys are getting work down, these guys are not missing workouts, and they are showing up on time…It’s awesome. I really feel like these guys have put themselves exactly where we want to be going into the season.”
With the Trojans getting ready for their Sept. 5 game against Arkansas St. at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Kessler has a lot to be enthusiastic about. Kessler has become an official Heisman Trophy candidate. USC has ripped into the AP Preseason Poll with a No. 8 ranking, while the USA Today Coaches Poll has the Trojans spotted as the No. 10 in the country.
After posting a 9-4 record in coach Steve Sarkisian’s offense during Year 1, Kessler and the Trojans are looking for bigger and better things to happen in 2015. Being better would be winning the Pac-12 Conference South Division and making a serious run at the national championship.
In order to do that, though, would require the Men of Troy to take out Notre Dame on the road, beat the stuffing out of cross town rival UCLA, and find a way to take down the Oregon Ducks. Oh yeah, beating Stanford in Week 3 of the 2015 season, would help as well. They’ve got the talent on both sides of the ball to see that come to fruition.
And they have Kessler to lead them. After two years of soaking up the game from the sideline as Matt Barkely’s backup, Kessler flourished his junior season. He was so good that he went out and produced a seven-touchdown performance against Colorado last year. There is a lot for the Trojans and their fans to be excited about.
It’s a big year for Kessler. It’s also a big year for the USC Trojans football team. They kind of go hand-in-hand with one another. Last year was a bit of an adjustment for Kessler to run Sarkisian’s offense at peak efficiency as the Trojans’ head coach prefer to get his quarterback a couple of yards back behind center in a more explosive way.
Being explosive is exactly what is required of a Steve Sarkisian team. Last season, the Trojans answered the bell, scoring 30 or more points in a game nine times. With sophomore playmakers JuJu Smith-Schuster, Adoree’ Jackson, redshirt sophomore Steven Mitchell, freshman Iman Marshall and junior De’Quan Hampton, the expectancy is that Kessler and the Trojans will be even more prolific offensively in 2015.
“This offense is great,” Kessler said. “It’s a lot of fun to play in. I’m a huge under the center guy. I’d rather be under center than in the (shot) gun (formation). I was a little skeptical at first, but I love it. Coach Sark has done a great job teaching it to me. I’m blessed to have (coach) Sark (isian).”