USC football: Lane Kiffin has no fix for Cody Kessler vs. Max Wittek

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The USC Trojans look a long way from a contending team after an unimpressive offensive performance against the Hawaii Warriors.

5-3.

This was the score for way too long a period of time between the USC Trojans and the Hawaii Warriors. It had to be even more vexing for Trojan fans that USC was on the WRONG end of that lead, trailing in a game that only grew more exasperating.

Hawaii, team of chill waves and relaxed midnight kickoffs, was battering USC's cadre of four and five-star offensive talent. USC couldn't punch in first and goal from the one. There was a sack given up in the end zone to provide fans with that most mystical of football scores, 5-3.

Cody Kessler was Lane Kiffin's secret quarterback that he rolled with for most of the first half, and he was pretty much given nothing to do other than play the safest football game possible. Throw mini-bootlegs, mini swing passes, mini screens. Other than a nice out route to Nelson Agholor for his only touchdown throw, Kessler was bottled up by a mixture of ultra-conservative play calling and did nothing.

Max Wittek by default had to do better, and he did by realizing Marqise Lee was a real person, and was pretty good at doing things like catching footballs and turning them into first downs. Five connections turned in the second half helped give USC their ten second half points. But other than that Wittek did very little, throwing a pick, getting pressured and sacked a bit, and the Trojans ground out their points.

USC's third down offense was so atrocious last year that the Trojans might as well have sent the punt them out there and netted more success. So it has to be a great joy to the Trojan kingdom that USC started out 1-10 on third down conversions.

It's a good thing the defense was dominant and Hawaii's offense was plenty impotent, because USC will need performances like that all year if they expect to do any sort of damage in the Pac-12. Lane Kiffin might have partially solved the defensive issues, but he's no closer to finding his quarterback, and the Trojans are in a bad spot as a result.

The questions remain for Lane Kiffin. Who will his quarterback be? Why is the vaunted offensive line looking like an assortment of five giant sacks of potatoes? Is Marqise Lee going to be wasted for the second straight year?

No answers came in game one in Hawaii. The questions figure to keep coming.

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