USC quarterback Matt Barkley suffered a shoulder sprain against UCLA and will be sidelined for Saturday’s game against top-ranked Notre Dame at the Coliseum, Coach Lane Kiffin said Sunday night.
Redshirt freshman Max Wittek will start for the Trojans for the first time.
Barkley was injured in the final minutes of USC’s 38-28 loss at the Rose Bowl, a defeat that dropped the 7-4 Trojans out of the Associated Press top 25 for the first time since the week leading up to last year’s game against Notre Dame.
Barkley left the game after he was sacked by UCLA linebacker Anthony Barr and fell on his right shoulder.
“I feel very bad for him and his family,” Kiffin said during a teleconference with reporters. “Obviously, this is not the way anybody pictured the team’s season or his season going.”
This will be the second time that Barkley, a senior and four-year starter, has been sidelined for Notre Dame’s appearance at the Coliseum. In 2010, an ankle injury prevented him from playing in a 20-16 loss.
“It’s unfortunate for [Barkley’s] career, that he’s not been around when Notre Dame has come into the Coliseum,” Kiffin said. “He’s been to South Bend twice and won twice, but he won’t be able to play at home.”
This will be the third game in Barkley’s career that he will sit out because of injury.
In 2009, he suffered a shoulder injury against Ohio State and could not play against Washington. Former coach Pete Carroll and offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates bungled the preparation of backup Aaron Corp and the Trojans lost, 16-13, at Seattle.
In 2010, senior Mitch Mustain started in Barkley’s place and the Trojans lost, 20-16, in a game that featured a certain touchdown pass that was dropped by receiver Ronald Johnson.
The 6-foot-4, 245-pound Wittek has played in six games this season, including the final minutes against UCLA when he completed three of three passes for 45 yards. The former Santa Ana Mater Dei High standout has completed eight of nine passes for 95 yards, including a touchdown against Colorado.
“We have great confidence in Max,” Kiffin said. “I thought he did well [against UCLA] in a very difficult situation… standing around in the rain and to go into that game is not easy to do.”
Kiffin said the Trojans would not drastically alter their approach with Wittek starting.
“Matt and Max are very similar physically, so I think that we would pretty much stick within our system,” Kiffin said.
Redshirt freshman Cody Kessler will be the No. 2 quarterback against Notre Dame.
Notre Dame Coach Brian Kelly said earlier Sunday that there would be no change in approach in preparation for USC because the Trojans feature receivers Marqise Lee and Robert Woods and running backs Curtis McNeal and Silas Redd.
“We’re going to have to defend all of those players, not just one,” Kelly said in a teleconference with reporters before Barkley’s status was announced. “Certainly if Barkley is playing, which we’ll prepare for him like he is playing, the offense is still going to be about getting the ball to their playmakers.
“So it really won’t change much in terms of what we do.”
Kiffin said it was fair to be asked about his job status after the UCLA defeat. Athletic Director Pat Haden confirmed that Kiffin would return next season.
“Lane is my head coach, 150%, now and hopefully for a long time,” Haden told The Times’ Bill Plaschke.
Said Kiffin: “We felt a great deal of confidence in our big picture here where everything is taken together…. That’s why I wasn’t concerned at all about it.”
Asked if he was planning any off-season staff moves, Kiffin said he would wait to evaluate the program.
“I don’t ever think about that or talk about that during the season,” he said. “So like we do whether we win 10 games or seven, eight or nine, after a season we always evaluate everything and look at it.”
In regard to calling plays as well as being the head coach, Kiffin said, “We’ll look at everything like we always do.”
The Trojans missed 23 tackles against UCLA, including 12 times when they had a chance to bring down Bruins quarterback Brett Hundley, Kiffin said. … ESPN’s “College GameDay” show is coming to USCfor Saturday’s game.