Skip to content

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

Nov 20, 2012, 2:57 PM EST

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. Mailbag: The case of the missing questions

    Dec 21, 2014, 4:35 PM EST

    Nyles Morgan

    After a mailbag goes missing, the Inside the Irish crew go looking for answers. That and other solutions in this week’s mailbag.

  2. Day, Riggs on track to start, Lombard’s career may be over

    Dec 20, 2014, 4:50 PM EST

    North Carolina v Notre Dame Getty Images

    Brian Kelly met with the local media on Saturday afternoon, delivering good news on the status of two key veteran defenders. Both defensive tackle Sheldon Day and cornerback Cody Riggs are on track to start against LSU, adding a few key pieces back into the puzzle.

  3. Notre Dame lands Indianapolis safety Mykelti Williams

    Dec 19, 2014, 11:59 AM EST

    Property of Indianapolis Star Property of Indianapolis Star

    Notre Dame solidified its safety depth chart by going for a homegrown solution. The Irish offered Indianapolis Warren Central safety Mykelti Williams yesterday, and today the four-star prospect made the decision official by committing to Notre Dame.

  4. And in that corner… The LSU Tigers

    Dec 19, 2014, 11:27 AM EST

    Les Miles Les Miles

    Notre Dame’s inclusion in the ACC’s bowl selections came in handy this year. As the Irish back-slid throughout November, they still held onto some preferred real estate, finding themselves in a pretty nice consolation game, with the opportunity to play in Nashville in the Music City Bowl.

    Carter Bryant gets us ready for LSU.

  5. Smith, Fuller nab All-American mentions

    Dec 18, 2014, 2:38 PM EST

    Jaylon Smith Jaylon Smith

    Sophomores Jaylon Smith and Will Fuller have earned more kudos than just their defensive and offensive player of the year Echoes. Both have received mention for year-end All-American awards.

  6. Bowl prep helps both present and future along offensive line

    Dec 18, 2014, 1:17 PM EST

    Purdue v Notre Dame Purdue v Notre Dame

    While most eyes are focused on the battle at quarterback between Everett Golson and Malik Zaire, the preparations for LSU will also be critical along the offensive line. The extra practices will give Brian Kelly and Harry Hiestand time to evaluate their starting five, with changes that could have both short and long-term impacts.

  7. Mailbag: Now Open

    Dec 17, 2014, 4:24 PM EST

    New Mailbox

    Any new questions? Ones that I’ve avoided? Last minute Christmas ideas? Drop them in the comments below or on Twitter @KeithArnold.

  8. ‘Blind Faith’ gives first time fan the Notre Dame experience

    Dec 17, 2014, 12:29 PM EST

    Stanford v Notre Dame Getty Images

    Monday UND.com premiered the short film “Blind Faith.” Directed by Notre Dame graduate Greg Kohs, the documentary follows a blind eighth grade boy making his first visit to Notre Dame Stadium.

  9. Golson and Zaire will share time against LSU

    Dec 16, 2014, 11:40 AM EST

    Rice v Notre Dame Getty Images

    Brian Kelly will play two quarterbacks against LSU, with both senior Everett Golson and sophomore Malik Zaire getting an opportunity to take on the LSU in the Music City Bowl. After a regular season where Golson served as the starter all 12 games with Zaire only seeing significant action against USC in the finale, both will be utilized in the Irish’s offensive game plan.

  10. Stanley still undecided on NFL future

    Dec 15, 2014, 4:52 PM EST

    Notre Dame v Syracuse Notre Dame v Syracuse

    Notre Dame junior offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley walked off the stage Friday night with the team’s Lineman of the Year Award. He’s still uncertain if it’s the last time he’ll take part in the season-ending festivities.

  11. Counting down the Irish: Looking back

    Dec 15, 2014, 3:37 PM EST

    Will Fuller, Nick VanHoose Will Fuller, Nick VanHoose

    This August, a group of people who spend way too much time watching and writing about Notre Dame football got together to put together some preseason rankings on the roster. In doing so, we (I’m definitely included) put in writing what so many of you (especially in the comments) already thought was true: We don’t know what we’re talking about sometimes.

  12. Schmidt wins MVP as Notre Dame hands out year-end awards

    Dec 13, 2014, 12:11 PM EST

    Joe Schmidt Joe Schmidt

    Middle linebacker Joe Schmidt was named the 2014 team’s MVP on Saturday night, honored by his teammates with the top award at Notre Dame’s year-end awards show. Hosted by NBC’s Mike Mayock and WNBA star Skylar Diggins, “The Echoes” withstood a building-clearing plumbing issue to hand out 16 awards.

  13. With banquet ahead, recruiting efforts in full swing

    Dec 12, 2014, 10:40 AM EST

    MyLVSports.com MyLVSports.com

    Notre Dame’s regular season may be over. The Irish’s recruiting class — one many thought would cap itself around 20 — is already at 21 commits. Get ready for a busy weekend on campus.

  14. Swarbrick in favor of compensating student-athletes through group licensing

    Dec 10, 2014, 9:49 PM EST

    Jack Swarbrick

    Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick finds himself in the news on another roller coaster day in college athletics. And while it isn’t about a coaching change (another job opening under Barry Alvarez!) or another critique of the College Football Playoff, Swarbrick found himself speaking openly — and rather candidly — about compensating student-athletes, and the perilous position college athletic departments now find themselves in.

  15. Mailbag: Now Open

    Dec 10, 2014, 12:59 PM EST

    New Mailbox

    Drop your questions below. Or on Twitter @KeithArnold.

  16. Ronnie Stanley has an NFL decision to make

    Dec 9, 2014, 12:24 PM EST

    Notre Dame v Syracuse Notre Dame v Syracuse

    Notre Dame’s season may have gone down the tube in November, but left tackle Ronnie Stanley’s stock has been sky-rocketing. The third-year junior (Stanley is a sophomore eligibility wise) is finishing up his first season as a left tackle and beginning to garner plenty of looks as a potential first-round draft pick.

  17. Quarterback battle will take center stage

    Dec 8, 2014, 3:51 PM EST

    Rice v Notre Dame Getty Images

    Throughout spring practice, summer workouts and fall camp, Brian Kelly did everything he could to make us believe a quarterback battle was taking place between Everett Golson and Malik Zaire.

    Twelve games and 22 turnovers later, the Irish finally have one.

  18. Irish wanted challenge? They’ll get one from LSU

    Dec 8, 2014, 12:27 AM EST

    Les Miles Les Miles

    Notre Dame got what it wanted. And if you thought Brian Kelly was looking for an easy matchup to become the first Irish head coach to win eight games or more in each of his first five seasons, think again.

  19. Notre Dame to face LSU in Music City Bowl

    Dec 7, 2014, 7:01 PM EST

    Tarean Folston, Daniel Gonzales, Obi Uzoma Tarean Folston, Daniel Gonzales, Obi Uzoma

    Notre Dame will be spending the holidays in Nashville. Sunday afternoon the Irish accepted their first ever bid to the Music City Bowl, where they’ll take on LSU. Les Miles’ football team finished the season 8-4.

  20. Postseason Mailbag: The ‘Moving Forward’ edition

    Dec 5, 2014, 5:16 PM EST

    Malik Zaire, J.R. Tavai Malik Zaire, J.R. Tavai

    Recruiting rankings, quarterback controversy, coaching changes and more.

    We’ll find out over the weekend where Notre Dame will go bowling. Until then, let’s dig into the mailbag.