USC Has Quarterback Dilemma Heading into Spring Practice

By Patrick Schmidt
Scoobum Im – USA TODAY Sports

USC Trojans quarterback Max Wittek saw action at the end of last season following the injury to Matt Barkley, but failed to inspire confidence that he could be the starter heading into 2013. With top quarterback recruit Max Browne on the roster, a quarterback controversy may emerge after spring practice.

Wittek got the start Notre Dame after Barkley hurt his shoulder the week before and struggled as you might expect a freshman would against an undefeated team with the top-ranked defense. For the evening, Wittek 14 of 23 passes for 186 yards and threw one touchdown and two interceptions in the nine-point loss.

With Barkley still nursing his shoulder injury and unable to play in the Hyundai Sun Bowl vs. Georgia Tech, Wittek got a second consecutive start, and this time with the benefit of a month of practice before playing the game and it wasn’t against the top defense in the country.

Optimism may have been high before the game, but after only completing 14 of 37 passes for a paltry 107 yards and three interceptions to only one touchdown in the 21-7 loss, the notion that Wittek would head into spring practice as the unquestioned starting quarterback was no longer an option.

In comes Browne, who was the No. 2 quarterback recruit in the nation and the No. 20 player overall according to ESPN. The 6-5, 215-pound pocket passer could push Wittek for the starting gig as early as this season.

Whoever gets the nod as the starting quarterback is yet to be seen and I have a feeling Lane Kiffin will be alternating both quarterbacks during spring practice and summer camp, but whoever is under center needs to look to Biletnikoff winner Marqise Lee early and often.

Lee is the game’s best wide receiver and should be the most targeted player next season as the young quarterbacks look for a security blanket while they get their feet.

If I’m Kiffin, and thank goodness that I’m not, I’m throwing Browne into the mix during spring practice—because he enrolled early–with the hopes that he masters the playbook, giving him an even bigger head start in advance of summer camp so I can start my true freshman quarterback, who has a much higher ceiling than Wittek.

Follow me on Twitter @PatrickASchmidt

Patrick is the host of “The Wake-up Call,” on airing Wednesday mornings from 8-10. View his show’s website here.

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