I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving and is enjoying another one of America's great holidays: Leftovers Friday. So grab a turkey sandwich and read up on the Trojans in this week's Q&A. This week, we're joined by Trevor Wong and DC Trojan from SBNation's USC blog, Conquest Chronicles.
1. How do Trojan fans feel about Lane Kiffin? There's been some rumblings about his seat getting warm, but is it true?
DC Trojan: The seat is getting hot. After Oregon there was a split between the "time for a complete change" group and the "keep Lane Kiffin as head coach with new assistants and better focus on HC role." The UCLA loss seems to have changed the proportions, and now there are rumors of dissent within the assistant coaching ranks. Speaking only for myself, I don't care which way it goes as long as it's done with some thoughtfulness.
Trevor Wong: Fans and alumni are certainly getting restless. Considering all that's occurred this year - from the jersey-switching fiasco, deflating-the-balls-drama and the piling losses - I think they have the right to be upset. I believe it's getting up there in temperature, and it's not going to get any cooler should USC drop this weekend's contest against Notre Dame. There has to be some change at the top because I just haven't seen any areas of improvement from the beginning of the season, a task that falls on the shoulders of the coaching staff to try and prepare the team to get better every single week.
2. So what do we know about this Max Wittek kid? How good is he?
DC Trojan: Wittek's supposed to be a good natural quarterback, more mobile than Barkley, but obviously very much less experienced.
Trevor Wong: Coach Lane Kiffin likened him to Carson Palmer in terms of his arm strength his competitiveness. He certainly can sling it a lot harder than Matt Barkley - just ask Marqise Lee. But he's also more mobile. As DC Trojan pointed out, he has very limited experience (8 for 9 with one touchdown thus far in his career in three appearances). I don't think he'll need to be a superstar in his first career start; he just needs to take care of the ball and manage the game.
3. For all of the talk about Barkley, Lee, and Woods, who are the big names on the Trojan defense?
DC Trojan: The defensive player who has really shone this year is Morgan Breslin. Other players have had up and down years, individually and as a unit... so they could be completely anonymous this Saturday, or give Notre Dame something to think about.
Trevor Wong: DC Trojan already mentioned him, but I'd mention Morgan Breslin, too, who leads the team in tackles for loss (17.5) and sacks (11.5). Someone in the secondary to watch out for is Nickell Robey. A year ago, he shadowed Michael Floyd (now in the NFL) all game long, limiting him to just four receptions and 28 receiving yards. This year hasn't been any different as teams have usually thrown the ball opposite side of where he is occupied.
4. Talk about the season Marqise Lee is having. What makes him so good?
DC Trojan: I'm afraid I'm not able to do a detailed breakdown on Lee, but one highlight I found instructive is highlighted in the film linked below - from the "tv" view, it just looked like the Utah defender was slow, but from head on, it becomes clear that Lee was making lateral moves and sudden acceleration changes at a rate that the Utah players just couldn't keep up with. He seems to have a fast read on defensive player alignments, joined to an absurd burst of speed.
Trevor Wong: He's having a phenomenal season, and that might be an understatement. He's the best and most dynamic player in college football - one of those guys that can score every time he touches the ball. Kiffin was certainly right a year ago - he predicted Lee could be the best receiver in school history, and he's certainly on his way to that.
5. Any predictions for the game?
DC Trojan: Predictions? My predictions go from bad to worse on a week to week basis. If "good" USC shows up, even with a fresh new quarterback, I think they will give Notre Dame plenty of work to do. If "disoriented and disaffected" USC shows up, then this will be a procession to the national championship game.
Trevor Wong: USC hasn't really shown anything over the last month that leads me to believe they have a chance to pull off the upset. So, I'm going to say the Notre Dame defense makes life difficult for Max Wittek in his first game, and they ride that unit's play to an easy win and a berth in the BCS title game.