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Notre Dame vs. USC: Max Wittek earns praise in first start

Max Wittek played about as well as a 19-year-old redshirt freshman in his first start, against the top team in the country, could play.

Harry How

It was the first start of Max Wittek's career. It came at the end of a regular season the USC Trojans would like to forget, but with an opportunity to knock a rival out of their top-ranked perch.

Like ESPN Los Angeles' Mark Saxon said, in the end, Wittek did all he could do.

You can't expect a 19-year-old making his first college start - against perhaps the best defense in the country - to play mistake-free football You probably can't expect him to play any better than Wittek did, either.

Wittek finished 14-for-23 passing for 186 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions in the Trojans' 22-13 loss to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish on Saturday. Wittek came in confident but it was a tall task for any quarterback, especially a redshirt freshman, in that type of atmosphere.

He did help wide receiver Marqise Lee break the Pac-12 receptions record for a season, and the two already look like they're ready to take their partnership to the next level. Lee told ESPN's Pedro Moura, "[Wittek's] probably gonna see me more than he sees his parents" this offseason.

Wittek himself wanted the win. Though he thought he played well, moral victories are not something he wants to pile up, he told to Scott Wolf.

"I'm disappointed," Wittek said. "No one imagined losing five games with the talent we have. Outside of those (two interceptions), I felt I played well in such a huge game against a great defense. I don't regret anything at all."

Next year, he will come back and try to come out on the winning side of games just like this one.