The USC Trojans went through a tumultuous 2013 season that was started off by a back-and-forth quarterback competition between Max Wittek and Cody Kessler that spilled into the first two games of the season. New head coach Steve Sarkisian won’t have to worry about choosing between those two again this offseason as Wittek has announced he will not participate in spring practice, graduate from USC this spring, and take his talents elsewhere for the final two years of his eligibility. His decision isn’t surprising but it does leave the Trojans with some concerns about their quarterback depth heading into 2014.
Wittek saw limited action over the last two seasons, including replacing the injured Matt Barkley at the end of the 2012 season. He struggled in losses to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the regular season finale and the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in the somewhat infamous Hyundai Sun Bowl. In 2013, he split time with Kessler in the first two games before eventually losing out on the starting quarterback job. He appeared in just five games last season, completing 14 of 26 passes for 212 yards with no touchdowns and an interception (though he only attempted 10 passes in a game one time). He finishes his USC career completing 50-0f-95 passes for 600 yards with three touchdowns and six interceptions.
While his numbers were far from flashy, Wittek had a nice, steady approach and enough experience in game situations to be a solid backup for the Trojans in the event of injury. With his departure, Sarkisian has just Kessler, Max Browne, and Jalen Greene left on the roster as scholarship quarterbacks with Kessler being the only one with any game experience. While everyone is very high on Browne and his ability to throw the football, you have some trepidation about how he will react if he’s thrown into a game situation at the drop of a hat.
Coaches always prefer to have too many options rather than not enough. Steve Sarkisian, especially, would appreciate too much depth somewhere on his roster as USC continues to work its way out from under scholarship restrictions. But Wittek isn’t interested in being a backup quarterback and will look for an opportunity to start right away next fall. Will his departure make an impact on the Trojans in 2014?