USC Football: Why Trojans Fans Need to Give Max Wittek a Chance

Rick McMahan@@RickMcMahanSenior Writer IMarch 21, 2013

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 24:  Max Wittek #13 of the USC Trojans looks to pass during a 22-13 loss to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on November 24, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

As the 2013 college football season approaches, there appears to be consensus in the land of Troy on two subjects.

One: Redshirt sophomore quarterback Cody Kessler could be the leader that takes the Trojans to the promised land this season.

The other? Max Wittek cannot get the job done.

Wittek—also a redshirt sophomore quarterback—was USC's starting signal caller for the last two games of the season, a loss to then No. 1 Notre Dame and an embarrassing defeat to Georgia Tech in the 2012 Sun Bowl.

In the game against Notre Dame, Wittek was OK but certainly not great as he passed for 186 yards, completing 14 passes in 23 attempts along with one touchdown and two interceptions against what most agree was a very good Irish defense.

Against the Yellow Jackets, Wittek mirrored the effort of the entire team, which was simply awful.

In a game in which the Trojans obviously didn't want to participate, Wittek was abysmal with three interceptions and a pathetic 106 yards passing.

But while Wittek struggled, he had an excuse that the rest of the team didn't.

Playing in almost gale-like conditions, throwing the ball in that game would have been a challenge for Aaron Rodgers or any other prolific gunslinger you care to name.

Still, when the Trojans folded in those blustery conditions, the slings and arrows from an outraged fanbase were fired in two directions:

Lane Kiffin—as the head coach—deserved the ire of the fans, and lord knows he certainly has received it since the end of 2012.

Wittek did not.

Wittek has certainly not set the world on fire in his brief tenure as the USC quarterback, and it is understandable that those who follow the men of Troy would be suspicious of his ability to lead the team going forward.

But to write him off wholesale based on two games—that is silly.

Wittek—at 6'4", 230 pounds—has an NFL-type body and an arm to match it.

What isn't certain is whether he has those intangibles such as leadership abilities and football acumen to match those impressive physical attributes.

Those questions cannot possibly be answered in two games when a young player was thrust into a starting role due to an injury to a Trojan legend, Matt Barkley.

Speaking of Barkley, those were some pretty big shoes to fill and no young quarterback would have stood that litmus test of comparison well.

Instead, Wittek struggled and those tribulations were magnified by the unrealistic expectations of a fanbase that has been spoiled by the exploits of Barkley.

Now, Wittek enters the 2013 season as a pariah of those who follow the cardinal and gold simply because he had a couple of bad games.

This is borne out in a poll that I conducted in an article that featured Wittek's competition, Kessler.

That poll asked a very simple question: Who should the Trojans' quarterback be in 2013?

Kessler received support from almost 59 percent of the well-over one thousand readers who responded.

Wittek? Try a paltry 11 percent.

Hell, even true freshman quarterback Max Browne received 30-percent support.

The conclusion that should be drawn is that Wittek has been abandoned by the fans of USC.

But is that fair? No.

What is fair is an open competition between all of the quarterbacks in both the spring and fall camps, and may the best man win.

To be completely fair, so far, Kessler has jumped out to an early lead in the race to be the Trojan quarterback as he has shined while Wittek is nursing a minor knee injury.

When all is said and done, it may very well be that Kessler is the man to lead USC in 2013.

But let's not condemn Wittek to the scrapheap based on two games.

While we're at it, lets not forget that every fan has had a bad day or two on the job themselves.

I doubt that they would fire themselves for those off days.

Why do the same to Wittek?


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