HONOLULU -- The University of Southern California will be happy to say Aloha -- which means both hello and goodbye -- to last season and this season starting Thursday night against Hawaii on national television (11 p.m. Eastern, CBS).
At least this time it all counts, which it did not while on suspension last year, with the Trojans opening the season ranked No. 24 and ready to fight to make that better.
Coach Lane Kiffin does not seem to care that the Trojans remain under NCAA probation, which limits them to a maximum of 75 scholarship players, 10 fewer than the standard annual limit.
Kiffin, who will have about 70 scholarship players this season, oversaw practices that were physical and demanding. USC had 22 injuries in fall camp.
"We've got to play, we've got to get physical and we've got to tackle," Kiffin told reporters after a 102-play scrimmage. "If things happen, they happen.
"I think we learned our lesson from that last year, of trying to protect ourselves so much. And having that mindset of 'Oh, boy, we got through the day and nobody got hurt.'
"That's probably not the right mindset to have."
USC finished 7-6 last season after starting the season as a No. 1-ranked team. One of the victories was an impressive 49-10 rout of Hawaii in the season opener at the L.A. Coliseum. The Trojans play the return game in Honolulu on Thursday night.
The biggest question mark of fall camp is not the physical style of practice or Marqise Lee's shoulder. It is USC's quarterback competition.
Matt Barkley is gone, which opens the door for sophomores Max Wittek or Cody Kessler in the opener against the Rainbow Warriors. Kiffin is not saying who will start.
And, according to athletic director Pat Haden, regardless of who starts against Hawaii, it may take a week or two to determine the No. 1 quarterback for the season. As a former quarterback and Rhodes Scholar, Haden's opinion is worth hearing.
"I don't think this is going to be a thing for the season," Haden told ESPNLosAngeles.com on Tuesday. "This is going to be decided here perhaps the first week, maybe the second week."
On one hand, Kiffin says either quarterback should do well.
"For us, we look at it as a great thing, we've got two guys that we feel great about," he said. "We don't feel like we have to limit our offense with either one of them in there."
On the other hand, Kiffin admits he would like to make a decision on who is No. 1 sooner than later, a sentiment echoed by Lee, an All-American wideout.
"Ideally, we're going to get to that," Kiffin said. "Ideally, we're not going to continue to do this all year. But at the same time, it can't just be (picking one) because we've had a way of doing things before."
Lee, who says he's 100 percent healthy after suffering from shoulder soreness, is important to the development of Wittek or Kessler against Hawaii.
Wittek served as the No. 2 quarterback as a redshirt freshman in 2012. Overall in 2012, while appearing in eight games (Hawaii, Syracuse, California, Utah, Colorado, UCLA, Notre Dame, Georgia Tech) and starting twice (Notre Dame and Georgia Tech), he was 36-of-69 (52.2 percent) for 388 yards with three TDs and five interceptions. Most of that was mop-up duty.
Kessler was a backup as a redshirt freshman in 2012 and also was the holder on all place-kicks. Overall in 2012, while appearing in 10 games (all but Syracuse, Stanford, California), he was 2-of-2 for 9 yards. In his only two games seeing action at quarterback, he took the game's final snap against Hawaii and hit both of his passes for 9 yards late against Colorado.
Kiffin may split time between the two QBs against Hawaii.
The Trojans offense is also fortified by former Penn State running back Silas Redd, who underwent surgery for a torn meniscus during spring ball but looks ready to go. In his three-year college career at Penn State and USC, he has run for 2,583 yards on 488 carries (5.3 avg.) with 18 touchdown and 10 100-yard rushing games.
The Rainbow Warriors will provide a solid test. The defensive backfield is the defense's strength even though Hawaii lost Mike Edwards, who left a year early for the NFL. John Hardy-Tuliau, a senior, will anchor the defense at one safety with Marrell Jackson, who was a breakout player last year as a freshman and could be a future star, set to play at the other safety spot.
The corners are likely to be NeQuan Phillips and Tony Grimes, two talented players who also had breakout seasons a year ago.
--Team correspondents for The Sports Xchange contributed material for this story.