Max Wittek got a big opportunity when he started in place of Matt Barkley against Notre Dame.
The redshirt freshman quarterback appears on track for another start in the Dec. 31 Sun Bowl against Georgia Tech.
Barkley, who suffered a shoulder injury against UCLA last month, was absent from the practice field Saturday when the Trojans resumed Sun Bowl preparation after a week off. Coach Lane Kiffin said the senior was not expected to practice until USC travels to El Paso on Dec. 26.
But even if cleared to practice and play, Barkley is expected to seriously consider the risk of reinjuring his right shoulder or suffering another injury that could affect preparation for the NFL draft.
Meantime, Wittek and redshirt freshman Cody Kessler are splitting first-team reps.
"Matt's still here, he's still a captain of this football team," Wittek said. "But not being at practice gives us the opportunity to step up and be leaders and compete."
Wittek completed 14 of 23 passes for 186 yards an...