Matt Barkley’s career at Southern California is over, a shoulder injury bringing a disappointing end to his record-breaking, four-year run as the Trojans’ quarterback.
Coach Lane Kiffin announced Thursday that the senior quarterback won’t play in the Sun Bowl against Georgia Tech because of the injured shoulder. Instead, redshirt freshman Max Wittek will make his second career start.
Barkley’s throwing shoulder was injured during Southern Cal’s second-to-last game against UCLA and he didn’t play in the season-finale against Notre Dame. Wittek started the game and the Trojans lost to the Fighting Irish to fall to 7-5 on the season.
Coming off a 10-2 season, and out of a two-year stay in NCAA jail for rules violations, USC started this season ranked No. 1 and a consensus national title contender.
Barkley threw for 3,273 yards in 11 games and 36 touchdowns. But he also threw 15 interceptions, the most since his freshman season.
GEORGIA: Abry Jones is back on the Georgia defensive line.
Jones was in a regular jersey on Thursday as the Bulldogs practiced at Celebration High School in Kissimmee, Fla., and looks on track to play for the first time since Oct. 20 against Kentucky.
Jones missed the final six games after undergoing ankle surgery. He did scout team work on Thursday.
Brandon Wheeling, a former walk-on defensive end for the Bulldogs who now holds the title program coordinator for the defense, worked with the defensive line during positional drills that were open to the media.
However, defensive coordinator Todd Grantham is overseeing the unit after Garner joined Auburn’s staff.
• Malcolm Mitchell said he never had a conversation with Mark Richt before the coach said the sophomore is staying at receiver, where he’s played primarily since starting early in the year at cornerback.
Mitchell wanted to concentrate on offense anyway.
“It is good to settled in at one spot and focus on that,” Mitchell said.
• In Thursday’s practice, tailback Richard Samuel (sprained shoulder) practiced in a non-contact jersey. Offensive lineman Austin Long worked on the side wearing a “club” on his surgically repaired right hand.
ALABAMA: Center Barrett Jones is still not practicing while recuperating from a sprained foot.
Jones wore a black, non-contact jersey during the Crimson Tide’s practice indoors on Thursday ahead of the Dec. 7 BCS championship game against Notre Dame. The Tide returned a day earlier from a three-day Christmas break.
Jones was injured during the first quarter of the Southeastern Conference championship game against Georgia and hasn’t practiced.
Alabama coach Nick Saban said Jones and defensive lineman Denzel Devall spent some time on the treadmill Thursday. Devall has a sprained knee.
Saban is hoping both will get at least five practices next week for the Jan. 7 championship game.
Saban said “it’s day to day because they both need to continue to make progress to be able to come back and play.”
ARKANSAS STATE: Head coach Bryan Harsin has announced that he will retain assistant Eliah Drinkwitz as the Red Wolves running backs coach.
Drinkwitz is completing his first season as an assistant at Arkansas State. ASU’s rushing offense averaged 217.4 yards per game and led the Sun Belt Conference with 30 rushing touchdowns.
Drinkwitz came to ASU from Auburn with now former Red Wolves head coach Gus Malzahn. Drinkwitz was a graduate assistant on the Auburn staff for two seasons – including the 2010 season in which Auburn won the BCS National Championship.
Harsin was hired earlier this month after Malzahn resigned to return to Auburn as head coach.