Friday Q&A: Forecasting Cody Kessler; Ranking Marvel Movies


If you like college football, this week’s Friday Q&A talks one of the leading preseason candidates for the Heisman Trophy, USC quarterback Cody Kessler.

If you’re a movie geek, the Friday Q&A has you covered there, as well. Marvel’s domination of the box office is unrivaled in the last seven years, but after listing each of the studio’s offerings, it’s surprising how many underwhelming titles there are in the Marvel universe.

Speaking of underwhelming, the Ghostbusters reboot is a topic of conversation. It all comes back to college football, though — read on, and you’ll see why.

If you have a question you want answered in the Friday Q&A, tweet @kensing45 or @cfbhuddle, or email

Great question/statement and touches on the No. 1 question mark about Cody Kessler heading into 2015: Can he deliver in big games?

Cody Kessler’s statistics last season were Heisman-caliber, and after the six-touchdown game against Notre Dame, Steve Sarkisian lamented Kessler’s lack of national attention. But you’re absolutely correct, Kessler struggled in USC’s marquee games.

Against the Pac-12 South’s other four teams that won at least nine games and finished ranked — Arizona State, Arizona, Utah and UCLA — he went 92-of-141 (66.1) with four touchdowns and three interceptions. USC was 1-3 in those contests.

In the Trojans other nine games, Cody Kessler was 223-of-310 (71.9) with 32 touchdowns and two interceptions.

Not panicking and trusting his abilities is key for Cody Kessler to meet his potential. Coincidentally (or not), it’s also what Sarkisian needs to do.

The only wideouts in the conversation with Nelson Agholor last season as the conference’s best were Nelson Spruce and Jaelen Strong, and it was apparent Kessler recognized it. He relied heavily on Agholor — maybe even too much. No. 15 became a security blanket of sorts, both for Cody Kessler and Steve Sarkisian.

Sarkisian was more comfortable calling plays that targeted Agholor in intermediate routes, rather than use George Farmer’s breakaway speed on deep balls. With the receiving corps restructured, I anticipate Kessler will distribute the ball more diversely and go deep more often.

I don’t like to put too much stock into spring games, but I did find the more diverse playcalling and use of multiple receivers a promising sign for the USC offense next season.

JuJu Smith is a different kind of receiver than Nelson Agholor, but Smith will be a more-than-capable replacement as the No. 1. Steven Mitchell looks like a dangerous, deep-ball threat and Isaac Whitney, Darreus Rogers and Ajene Harris could all play roles.

10. The Incredible Hulk

Ang Lee went for a cerebral approach with 2003’s disastrous Hulk, and given the negative response, the reboot went the polar opposite. There is nothing the least bit smart or subtle about the 2008 Incredible Hulk, which felt like a Mountain Dew-addicted 12-year-old’s interpretation of the Hulk.

Shame, too; Edward Norton is a terrific actor.

9. Iron Man 2

Hated this. I went to an opening-night showing so excited: Iron Man was great, Robert Downey Jr. was on a roll, Mickey Rourke was not far removed from The Wrestler and one of my favorite actors, Don Cheadle, was added as Col. Rhodes/War Machine.

I left the theater tremendously disappointed. Mickey Rourke’s Ivan was forgettable, and the

8. Captain America: The First Avenger

Captain America was one of my favorite Marvel characters as a child. I’ll never forget after seeing the 2002 Spider-Man my freshman year of college, talking about comic movies I’d like to see with friends at dinner afterward.

I posited Captain America, and my friend said, “What’s it going to be? Him fighting the Taliban?”

I said a World War II Captain America would be awesome. And, done right, I still believe it could be. This just wasn’t done right. It felt rushed and a bit corny.

7. Thor: The Dark World

I’m not a fan of the character Thor in general, so I struggled getting into this one.

6. Thor

See above.

5. Iron Man 3

Whereas Iron Man 2 felt very throwaway — more like a 1990s Batman sequel than an installment in a larger story arc — Iron Man 3 does a better job of playing on themes of the first movie. The internal conflict of Tony Stark and the Iron Man persona is an interesting story arc.

Iron Patriot as a tool of the military reminds me of Superman’s role in The Dark Knight Returns, an excellent comic from before Frank Miller had become a pro-fascism hack.

4. The Avengers

I probably would have enjoyed this more had I seen it opening weekend. The reviews set my expectations too high. As it was, it was a perfectly enjoyable actioneer, it wasn’t the genre-transcending art some critiques I read portrayed it as.

3. Captain America: Winter Soldier

Outstanding story-telling and development of the Captain America character, an engrossing story…and a BS ending. How is Black Widow able to basically tell a Congressional commitment questioning her on charges of TREASON “STFU,” get up, and walk out?!

2. Iron Man

The first Iron Man isn’t just one of my favorite Marvel movies; this is one of my favorite movies period.

1. Guardians of the Galaxy

I love this movie, because it’s a vast departure from the direction of the genre without abandoning what works in good comic-book films. It’s funny and has heart, but never uses these devices in place of the action.

There’s a lot of original Star Wars thematic elements at play in Guardians of the Galaxy, and I dig that.

The obvious No. 1 is Ernest Goes to Jail, which I interpret as a commentary on the state of the American justice system. The courts rush the poor through without fair trials, sending an innocent man to Death Row for the sake of quick conviction.

While in the system, a man is turned into a monster, expressed through the symbolism of Ernest gaining THE ABILITY TO SHOOT LIGHTNING BOLTS AFTER HE’S EXECUTED IN THE ELECTRIC CHAIR.

Yeah, I have no idea what the hell I just wrote.

I actually haven’t seen an Ernest movie in many years. I do know Ernest was born in Lexington, Kentucky, thus presumably would have become a cultist, er, ardent John Calipari fan had he remained in the Bluegrass State.

That is, assuming he didn’t embrace his native Tennessee. Come to think of it, I can picture Ernest as a die-hard Vols fan, decked out in orange-checked overalls on fall Saturdays and throwing back drinks at the tail-gate.

One thing’s for sure: Ernest was most definitely an SEC fan. That guy Verne he was always addressing on the other side of the camera? That was none other than Verne Lundquist, the voice of SEC Saturdays.

Wait, what was the question? Oh, right. It’s worth noting Jim Varney lent his voice to Toy Story and Toy Story 2. Those are two damn fine films.

OK, I’d cast Chris Hemsworth as Jake Kong, Jr., mostly because of the blonde hair; Jonah Hill as Eddie Spencer, Jr.; and Anna Kendrick as intrepid news reporter Jessica Wray.

I’d prefer a live gorilla play Tracy — the CGI apes from Dawn of the Planet Apes take me completely out of the story.

Wait…we are talking about the 1980s’ Filmation cartoon, Ghost Busters, right?

Pfft, FINE. If you want to talk about the Ghostbusters people actually know, I guess I will. But let me say I’m doing so under protest that I’m usually against remakes, and that replacing Bill Murray is next to impossible.

When Jim Carrey is on his game, I think he’d be up to the task of playing Peter Venkman. The last movie of Carrey’s I saw was I Love You Phillip Morris, and he was tremendous. If you can get that level of performance out of Jim Carrey, he’s your guy there.

My Raymond Stantz (with a different name) is Anna Kendrick. First of all, I love her. Second, she can pull off the spitfire mechanic of the team quite well.

Playing Egon Spengler is Zoe Saldana, a callback to my above expressed love for Guardians of the Galaxy. I would tone down some of the nerdy stereotypes, and restructure the role to be somewhat more like Lana in Archer: smart and tough, and never taking any crap.

Winston Zeddemore is Anthony Mackie: Great actor, can play a convincing bad-ass but also has comedic chops. Pain & Gain may not have been great, and it certainly added too much levity to what were some rather heinous crimes, but Mackie is funny in it.

The smooth-talking Peter Venkman is Steve Spurrier. I don’t think there’s any doubt about that.

Rich Rodriguez plays Raymond Stantz. I can picture Rich Rod’s Raymond making modifications to the Ecto-1 to speed it up.

Plus, we already know Rich Rod has some acting credits.

Playing Egon is Western Michigan’s P.J. Fleck. I picture this version of Egon as a dashing wunderkind, bringing some class to the crew with his slacks and ties on underneath the Ghostbusters jumpsuit.

Kevin Sumlin is Winston Zeddemore. Both are business-first guys who also bring charisma to the job.

Finally, as an added bonus (and because it’s too perfect to pass on including), is there a more perfect coach to play killjoy EPA agent Walter Peck than Nick Saban?