The USC Trojans stepped into the Sun Bowl looking for an eighth win and strong finish to the 2012 season with rising star Max Wittek guiding the offense. Instead, Wittek tossed three interceptions and averaged 2.9 yards per toss making it obvious the Trojans have to open up the quarterback battle heading into 2013.
Spring will bring a new look to the team with Monte Kiffin departing as defensive coordinator, and it may bring a new look to the offense. Cody Kessler has pushed Wittek for time in practice and incoming freshman Max Browne will be a challenger as a possible early enrollee.
The Trojans will need a quarterback that can step up and handle the pressure of starting in L.A. Wittek has not looked good in his few opportunities so far, making the move to Kessler or possibly a true freshman look like a solid option.
USC didn’t shy away from using Matt Barkley as a true freshman, and he was able to put together a solid year for the Trojans that season. Browne is as talented as Barkley was coming out of high school and could have the same type of success.
Cody Kessler is a solid option as a rising redshirt sophomore. Kessler has a strong arm and was an accurate passer throughout high school. He is two of two this season for nine yards.
The way that Wittek played was inexcusable against the No. 68 pass defense in the country. The Yellow Jackets were not that strong against the pass this fall, but they looked like all-stars against Wittek.
Lane Kiffin is already finding unique ways to make changes so that it looks like he is doing something to get creative and renew the USC dynasty. If he fails to find a quality starting quarterback before 2013, he will be on the hottest seat in America.
USC has a lot of talent that is expected to return and will bring Pac-12 title hopes to the new year. That won’t happen without a star quarterback.
This spring the quarterback race has to be opened back up for Wittek, Kessler and Browne to battle it out for the starting job.
It is amazing to see how far the Trojans fell with the loss of Matt Barkley. The offense became stale and was unable to perform at even a modest level despite having the best skill talent in the game manning the outside.
This loss was a terrible look at the future with Wittek. To continue down that road looks like it would spell disaster. Look for the transition to begin this spring and for USC to find a new leader on offense before the fall.