USC added injury to insult when starting quarterback Matt Barkley suffered a shoulder injury in the loss to UCLA marking the end of the regular season for the quarterback who entered the season as the Heisman favorite.
Replacing him behind center will be Max Wittek who coincidentally enough also replaced Barkley at Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, Ca.
Mater Dei also produced former Trojans quarterback and Heisman winner Matt Leinart.
Wittek was a highly recruited prospect and was the third ranked quarterback prospect according to ESPN and the 11th ranked quarterback according to Scout.com.
As a prep athlete scouts raved about his clam demeanor, ability to extend plays with his legs and the arm talent to make every throw.
However, with just nine pass attempts spread over six games this season evaluating Wittek is difficult.
Expectations as a USC quarterback are always high and that is no surprise to Wittek and I would surmise part of the reason why he decided to be a Trojan, and his coach isn’t expecting any drop-off on Saturday.
USC head coach Lane Kiffin told Gary Klein of the Los Angeles Times, “We expect him to step right in and play at a championship level.”
No pressure, right?
The redshirt freshman Wittek faces a baptism by fire Saturday night when he faces No. 1 Notre Dame and will be staring into the eyes of Manti Te’o and his defense that is allowing a paltry 10.1 points per game–which is the best in the nation.
He will have some help on offense with two of the best receivers in the country with Robert Woods and Biletnikoff finalist Marqise Lee; serving as security blankets should Wittek get rattled.
The 6-4, 235-pound quarterback is far from a finished product, but he will give Trojan fans and coaches a glimpse into what life without Barkley will be like next year and beyond.
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Patrick is a diehard Chicago sports and an avid college football fan, and the host of “The Wake-up Call,” a weekly sports show on Sportstownchicago.com airing live on Wednesday mornings from 8-10. View his show’s website here.