Max Wittek earned the starting position for the USC Trojans last fall when he took over for an injured Matt Barkley against Notre Dame and shined.
Barkley was held out of the Sun Bowl due to injury and Wittek was once again handed the keys to the offense. He was terrible against Georgia Tech, only completing 37.8 percent of his throws. That one game makes spring a proving ground for Wittek in 2013.
Wittek finished the Notre Dame game 14-of-23 for 186 yards and a touchdown. He threw two picks. Against one of the country’s leading defenses, that was acceptable.
Against a much less potent defense in Georgia Tech, Wittek went 14-of-37 for 107 yards and one touchdown. He also tossed three interceptions against the Yellow Jackets.
The future did look bright after the finish to November by Wittek against the Fighting Irish, but the bowl performance has USC fans wondering if he has what it takes to become the next great quarterback for the Men of Troy.
There is a lot of talent that lines the depth chart at USC, with Cody Kessler and incoming freshman Max Browne looking to challenge Wittek for starting snaps this spring. Wittek is the favorite for now, but he still has the biggest shoes to fill in 15 practices.
For the Trojans to get back to championship football, they have to have a solid quarterback.
Wittek has all the tools to make the right moves this spring, but he showed last season that his head can get lost in the clouds when he is given the title of starting quarterback.
Massive improvement has to come this spring if he expects to continue to push past the other talented signal-callers that line the Trojans lineup.
His one game in the final month of the season ranked as the worst in the Pac-12 by a quarterback during December and January (CFBStats.com).
Compared to others inside the conference, Wittek had the worst completion percentage by 12 points, and finished with a 54.83 quarterback rating. The next worst in the conference for that span was Keith Price with a 101.6.
Maybe it was just freshman jitters. If it was, Wittek has the chance to prove that this spring.
It wasn’t that there wasn’t enough talent that surrounded him. Wittek had stud runner Silas Redd to hand off to, and arguably the best receiving tandem in the country in Robert Woods and Marqise Lee last year.
Woods is now gone, but Redd and Lee return to ensure that Wittek continues to have a cupboard full of playmakers around him to choose from.
As the Trojans look to climb back into the national discussion, Wittek will receive the most focus this spring. The expectations are sky high and he has to prove that he can earn the starting quarterback role for USC this fall.
There is no room for error this spring for Wittek. He has to prove he belongs.
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