Skip to content

Max Wittek: “We’re going to win this ballgame”

Nov 20, 2012, 2:57 PM EDT

Colorado v USC Getty Images

With senior quarterback Matt Barkley on the sidelines for Saturday’s game, the Trojans will turn to redshirt freshman Max Wittek to pilot their high-powered offense. Having appeared in only three games in his USC career, Wittek is far from a proven commodity. But that hasn’t stopped the young quarterback from calling his shot.

“We’re going to play our offense, whatever Coach Kiffin feels comfortable giving me,” Wittek told ESPN LA 710’s Mark Willard. “It he wants to air it out, let’s air it out. If he wants to pound them on the ground, let’s do that. Like I said, I’m going to go out there, play within myself, within the system, and we’re going to win this ballgame.”

Broadway Joe meet Bulletin Board Max.

Wittek is no stranger to success. Nor is he a stranger to replacing Matt Barkley. At Orange County powerhouse Mater Dei, it was Wittek that replaced Barkley as the quarterback, continuing an incredible stretch of signal-callers that have gone on to star for the Trojans the past decade, joining Mark Sanchez and Matt Leinart.

It’s that type of pedigree that helps make Brian Kelly’s job easier, as he can expect an elite skillset on whatever quarterback Lane Kiffin trots out behind center.

“When you get a scholarship to USC, you’re one of the best quarterbacks in the country,” Kelly said. “He’s a big, strong, physical kid, he’s got a live arm, he certainly fits into their offensive scheme of things. He’s a perfect fit for what they do.”

In Wittek, USC might just have their prototype. Another quarterbacking creation, Wittek’s family relocated to California to help find better competition in his prep years, after working as a junior high prodigy with noted quarterback guru Steve Clarkson, who flew to Connecticut for multiple training sessions. The Wittek family was introduced to Clarkson by none other than Joe Montana, who is a business associate of Wittek’s father in the commercial real estate field.

Never shy to praise a former student (it was Clarkson who dubbed Jimmy Clausen the “LeBron James of high school football”), Clarkson praised the unique skills Wittek brings to the game, with a country-strong arm and surprisingly agile feet and speed for a quarterback his size.

“What he brings to the table that some other USC quarterbacks have not is a real sense of athleticism,” Clarkson told the LA Times. “In a lot of ways, he has Brett Hundley capability in his foot dynamics.”

It was Hundley that tormented the Trojans defense with his ability to move and create both inside and out of the pocket, something Everett Golson has done fairly well this season. And while Wittek is facing the nation’s top scoring defense this weekend, he’ll be armed with the top receiving duo in the country, Robert Woods and Heisman candidate Marqise Lee.

“We’re going to do what we do, absolutely,” Kelly said. “At this point, for us to go into one game and say, all right, we’re going to do different things to confuse Max is really crazy. This guy has watched football all year, he’s going to be watching film, he knows our defense. We’re going to do what we do, because that’s gotten us to that point. No big changes on our end.”

What that likely means is challenging Wittek and the Trojans to march down the field, giving USC’s receivers the chance to catch underneath passes while the Irish rally to make tackles. And while they won’t dramatically alter their plans, expect Bob Diaco to mix three and four man fronts and bring a few exotic pressure looks to confuse Wittek, who will likely do most of his passing from the confines of the pocket.

For the Irish, the stakes are clear: Win and advance to the national championship.

For Wittek, this could kick-start another era of the Notre Dame-USC rivalry, a series that’s leaned heavily in the Trojan’s favor the past decade.

“His story starts this weekend,” USC receiver Robert Woods said.

Latest Posts
  1. Rumors swirl about offensive line shuffle

    Sep 18, 2014, 1:22 PM EDT

    notre-dame-ol

    Over the weekend, Brian Kelly talked candidly about finding a better performance from his offensive line. With talented personnel that’s still finding its identity after Zack Martin and Chris Watt graduated, Kelly and offensive line coach Harry Hiestand have an off week to find the five optimal starters — and their positions — before taking on Syracuse next weekend.

  2. Mailbag: Now Open

    Sep 18, 2014, 11:31 AM EDT

    Mailbag

    Questions before a weekend without Notre Dame football? Drop them below or on Twitter @KeithArnold.

  3. Jenkins addresses football suspensions to Notre Dame faculty

    Sep 17, 2014, 1:36 PM EDT

    Rev. John Jenkins,Jack Swarbrick Rev. John Jenkins,Jack Swarbrick

    After missing the first three games of the season, the fate of DaVaris Daniels, Eilar Hardy, Kendall Moore, KeiVarae Russell and Ishaq Williams is still up in the air. After announcing an official investigation into academic dishonesty in mid-August, updates on the status of the five players have been limited to head coach Brian Kelly’s weekly loop of uncertainty.

  4. Notre Dame bye week number crunching

    Sep 16, 2014, 11:59 AM EDT

    Everett Golson Everett Golson

    With the Irish getting a much needed Saturday off, we won’t hear from Brian Kelly until he’s previewing Syracuse for us next weekend. But with one quarter of the season in the books, let’s take a look at some of the surprises after three games, digging deep in to the stats after victories over Rice, Michigan and Purdue.

  5. It’s still way too early, but Notre Dame’s path is open to CFB Playoff

    Sep 15, 2014, 12:36 PM EDT

    Tyler Murphy, Josh Bordner, Bobby Wolford, Scott Felix Tyler Murphy, Josh Bordner, Bobby Wolford, Scott Felix

    It’s still way too early.

    I’ll type it again: It’s still way too early. But with one quarter of Notre Dame’s football season behind them, the Irish’s path to the first ever College Football Playoff looks wide open.

  6. The good, the bad, the ugly: Notre Dame vs. Purdue

    Sep 14, 2014, 11:08 PM EDT

    Raheem Mostert, Romeo Okwara Raheem Mostert, Romeo Okwara

    Don’t tell me you wouldn’t take it. Notre Dame, entering their first off week at 3-0. The offense, averaging a hearty 36.3 points a game. The defense, giving up just 10.3 points a game.

  7. Five things we learned: Notre Dame 30, Purdue 14

    Sep 14, 2014, 1:32 AM EDT

    Purdue v Notre Dame Getty Images

    After two weekends of crisp, mistake-free football, Notre Dame walked into Lucas Oil Stadium expecting to roll over Purdue. And they played like it.

  8. Live Blog — Notre Dame vs. Purdue

    Sep 13, 2014, 5:13 PM EDT

    notre-dame-shamrock-series

    With two victories behind them in impressive fashion, Notre Dame has a chance to start September with three straight victories for the second time in three seasons. Off to a clean start, the Irish are tied for the best in the nation in turnover margin, sitting pretty at +6 heading into Saturday night’s game.

  9. Watch Notre Dame vs. Purdue anywhere

    Sep 13, 2014, 1:48 PM EDT

    SportsLiveExtra

    As usual, for those of you away from the TV on Saturday night, we’ve got your covered. Notre Dame’s primetime affair with Purdue will air not just on NBC at 7:30 p.m., but will be hosted as part of the NBC Live Extra app, as well as online at NBCSports.com

  10. Mailbag: Purdue edition

    Sep 12, 2014, 4:20 PM EDT

    Michael Bertsch Michael Bertsch

    With the festivities already started in Indianapolis, let’s empty the mailbag before tomorrow night’s Shamrock Series game against Purdue.

  11. Pregame Six Pack: An all Hoosiers Shamrock Series

    Sep 12, 2014, 3:26 AM EDT

    Purdue v Notre Dame Getty Images

    It’s that time of year again. The annual Shamrock Series. For a program built upon tradition and history, consider the Shamrock Series something similar — only started five years ago. (So maybe not that similar at all.)

  12. Hazell understands the challenge at hand

    Sep 11, 2014, 5:52 PM EDT

    Western Michigan v Purdue Western Michigan v Purdue

    With a betting line that’s hovering just above four touchdowns, this weekend’s Shamrock Series game looks like it could be the most lopsided matchup since the series premiere against Washington State. But if the last five years tell us anything, expect the unexpected against Purdue.

  13. Mailbag: Now open

    Sep 10, 2014, 5:58 PM EDT

    Mailbag

    Two weeks in and we’ve got plenty to talk about. So if you’ve got questions on Shamrock Series, Purdue, the end of Michigan, or anything else… Drop it in the comments or hit me on Twitter @KeithArnold.

  14. BK on Jim Rome: Didn’t see Michigan shutout coming

    Sep 10, 2014, 5:28 PM EDT

    Brian Kelly, Brady Hoke Brian Kelly, Brady Hoke

    With his team 2-0 and looking well positioned to get out of September undefeated, Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly was a guest on Jim Rome’s radio show Wednesday afternoon. The Irish head coach shared some interesting thoughts, while also being very candid about the Irish’s 31-0 defeat of Michigan.

  15. And in that corner… The Purdue Boilermakers

    Sep 10, 2014, 12:03 PM EDT

    Hunt, Dean Hunt, Dean

    For the second week in a row, we’ll be up late watching Notre Dame, only this Saturday it may be tough to decipher who the Fighting Irish are. Travis Miller of SBNation’s Hammer & Rails gets us ready for Purdue, as this year’s Shamrock Series kicks off this weekend.

  16. With Michigan in past, focus shifts to Purdue

    Sep 9, 2014, 4:00 PM EDT

    Notre Dame v Michigan Getty Images

    As Brian Kelly pointed out on Saturday night, the decisive victory over Michigan counts as only one win. So while Saturday night’s game against Purdue looks like one of the more lopsided on the Irish schedule, consider the past two matchups.

  17. Even after shutout, Irish hope best is yet to come for young D

    Sep 8, 2014, 7:33 PM EDT

    Michigan v Notre Dame Getty Images

    During the postgame interviews, it was hard for players to hide the joy they were feeling. For a team that’s struggled to beat Michigan in the past, the 31-0 victory certainly earned the Irish every minute of the 24 hours they planned to celebrate.

  18. Jaylon Smith nominated for Lott IMPACT Player of the Week

    Sep 8, 2014, 1:37 PM EDT

    Jaylon Smith

    Fresh off his 10 tackle performance and leading Notre Dame to a 31-0 shutout of Michigan, linebacker Jaylon Smith earned a nomination for the Lott IMPACT Player of the Week award.

  19. The good, the bad, the ugly: Notre Dame vs. Michigan

    Sep 7, 2014, 11:00 PM EDT

    Michigan v Notre Dame Getty Images

    As the Notre Dame-Michigan rivalry takes an indefinite break, the Irish’s most lopsided victory in the series leaves the programs in two very different places. Even as Brian Kelly plays 19 first-year contributors (true and redshirt freshmen), the Irish won all three phases of the game. Let’s look at the good, the bad and the ugly.

  20. Five things we learned: Notre Dame 31, Michigan 0

    Sep 7, 2014, 1:43 AM EDT

    Amir Carlisle Amir Carlisle

    This might have to be it for Notre Dame and Michigan. Because in the 42nd and final scheduled meeting between the Irish and Wolverines, Notre Dame’s delivered a 31-0 knockout punch that could very well leave Brady Hoke’s program left for dead.