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Hawaii kicks off against USC

Trojans to play two quarterbacks today; Graham will start for Rainbow Warriors

August 29, 2013
By OSKAR GARCIA , The Associated Press

HONOLULU - Southern California coach Lane Kiffin knows the order in which quarterbacks Max Wittek and Cody Kessler will audition for the Trojans' starting job during the season opener today at Hawaii.

But he's not telling.

"I'm not going to tell you the end of the movie before you go to the movie, right " Kiffin said before boarding a plane to Honolulu. "You're going to have to watch."

Article Photos

Hawaii coach Norm Chow, shown talking to his players during last season’s opener at Southern California, will be looking for better results this time. The Trojans beat the Warriors 49-10. The teams will meet today at Aloha Stadium on Oahu.
AP file photo

No. 24 USC is favored by more than three touchdowns against Hawaii, which received the fewest votes in the Mountain West Conference preseason poll and was picked to finish last in the West Division.

"We've worked hard and we'll just have to see," second-year Hawaii coach Norm Chow said in a video posted on the school's athletic website. "This first game is a crapshoot, if you will, but I figure if hard work has anything to do with it, then we'll be OK."

The Rainbow Warriors finished 3-9 last season. They ranked 102nd nationally in points for (21.2) and 107th in point against (35.7).

Fact Box

2013 UH Football Schedule

All times HST

Todayvs. Southern Cal5 p.m.

Sept. 7 at Oregon State2 p.m.

Sept. 21at Nevada*2:05 p.m.

Sept. 28vs. Fresno State*6 p.m

Oct. 5vs. San Jose State*6 p.m.

Oct. 12at Nevada-Las Vegas*2:05 p.m.

Oct. 26vs. Colorado State* 6 p.m.

Nov. 2at Utah State*11 a.m.

Nov. 9at Navy10:30 a.m.

Nov. 16vs. San Diego State* 5:30 p.m.

Nov. 23 at Wyoming*9:05 a.m.

Nov. 30 vs. Army 6 p.m.

* - Mountain West Conference game

Hawaii's starting quarterback will be Taylor Graham, a 6-foot-5, 235-pound junior.

"I'd be lying if I didn't say I have butterflies," said Graham, who sat out last season after transferring from Ohio State. "That's part of the experience. I've heard other guys whose careers have ended and they say they miss that the most -leading up to the game. I'm trying to enjoy it as much as I can and embrace the feeling and excitement. We all are. We're just very excited to finally get to play in a game."

Graham beat out incumbent Sean Schroeder, a senior who started 11 games last season.

Wittek and Kessler, both sophomores, are trying to replace Matt Barkley, who set 20 USC records during his four-year career. Wittek is more experienced - he started the final two games last season after Barkley hurt a shoulder - but didn't distinguish himself enough this preseason to earn the starting title over Kessler. Kessler spent the bulk of 2012 holding placekicks, completing 2-of-2 passes for 9 yards.

Kiffin says even though the players will split time, the Trojans won't have separate game plans for each player.

"We feel good about both quarterbacks that we would not have to call different plays or have a different play chart for both guys," Kiffin said.

Freshman Max Browne is not expected to play.

Hawaii senior defensive back John Hardy-Tuliau said it doesn't matter who plays quarterback for Southern California.

"We just focus on what we can control," he said. "We'll just focus on our techniques and the way we've been coached and we'll see how well we can put it together on game day."

The Trojans' top receiver is Marqise Lee, who had 118 catches for 1,721 yards and 14 touchdowns last year, leading to the Biletnikoff Award as college football's best receiver. In the opener against Hawaii, he had 10 catches for 197 yards, including a 75-yard touchdown catch on USC's first offensive play. The Trojans were the preseason No. 1 in 2012, but finished 7-6.

USC will play without tailback Silas Redd, who didn't make the trip to Hawaii as he recovers from a knee injury.

Kiffin hasn't named a starter at tailback for the opener, but brought four to Hawaii: sophomores Tre Madden and Javorius "Buck" Allen, plus freshmen Justin Davis and Ty Isaac.

Today's game starts a difficult stretch for Hawaii, which next will play at No. 25 Oregon State and Nevada before hosting Fresno State.



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