Well with USC having Matt Barkley out for the game against the Irish their pass offense will take a hit, but how big of one? Max Wittek the redshirt freshman will take the reins and he will still have 2 very good wide receivers out on the edges in Marqise Lee and Robert Woods. Before this week USC was 26th in the nation in scoring offense averaging 36.1 points per game. The Trojans are 66th in rushing offense, which might be more of a factor since they will be starting a freshman quarterback on Saturday. What takes the biggest hit is the 20th ranked passing offense in the nation averaging 307 yards per game. Total offense USC ranks 27th with 467.5 yards per game, which will be the second best offense Notre Dame has faced this year (Oklahoma 11th ranked offense).
Max Wittek, QB, Redshirt Freshman
On the season Wittek has appeared in 6 games and thrown 9 passes completing 8 of them for 95 yards and a touchdown. According to rivals.com he was a 4 star recruit and 76th best player of the 2011 class out of high school and was the 3rd best quarterback. He beat out Cody Kessler for the backup job over the summer and other than that it is hard to judge how this guy is going to do against Notre Dame. This is his first start ever in college and it is against the number one team in the country and one of the biggest rivalries in college football. His first start will be at home and won’t have to deal with much crowd noise, and he has two of the best receivers in the country in Marqise Lee and Robert Woods. He has to manage the game and not turn over the ball for USC to be successful. Look for the defensive line and Manti Te’o to come after the freshman quarterback and welcome him to college football.
Silas Redd, RB, Junior
The transfer from Penn State has carried the ball 138 times for 740 yards and 9 touchdowns, averaging 5.36 yards per carry. Curtis McNeal gets his carries averaging about 3 less than Redd per game. Silas transferred so that he could be a part of a special team and go to bowl games. Well with USC having some heart breaking losses it has been a 7-4 season (the same record as Penn State), and having to essentially share carries with another back. Redd is a good back that can make guys miss and at 5’10’’ 200 pounds he can carry the load throughout the game.
Marqise Lee, WR, Sophomore
Lee leads the team in catches, receiving yards, and touchdowns. Having amassed 107 catches for 1605 yards and 14 touchdowns and averaging over 15 yards per catch. Being Barkley’s go to guy all of this year, but what will happen when the freshman come in? With Notre Dame playing soft coverage on ‘normal’ wide receivers this matchup is in favor of USC no doubt. If USC wants to win get the ball to Lee and let him do his thing.
Robert Woods, WR, Junior
Well when you start paying all your attention to Lee then you lose track of Woods who has started since his freshman year. He has had 66 receptions this season so far amounting to 721 yards and 10 touchdowns. Don’t forget about averaging over 10 yards per catch. Look for Woods in the punt return game as well, since he has that big play ability.
You combine Woods and Lee and they account for 144 points on the season for the USC offense (36%). They will make their plays, but if the Notre Dame’s front seven can put pressure on the redshirt freshman and force him into bad decisions then the Irish will be successful.