Plight on: Oh, what a brutal night for USC QBs past and present

By Andy Nesbitt,

Over the years, USC has done a great job of producing amazing QBs that go on to excel at the NFL level. And by amazing we mean mediocre, and by “excel at the NFL level” we mean have a good year or two before flaming out in stunning fashion.

Thursday night was a perfect storm of sorts for USC QBs, both at the NFL level and collegiate levels, as we saw a total of seven QBs with USC ties put forth their not-so-best effort. OK, a few guys were decent but none of them spent Friday bragging about their performances to anyone who would listen.

Let’s take a look at what happened to each player.

1. Matt Leinart, Buffalo Bills

The 2004 Heisman Trophy winner started for the Bills just four days after being picked up by the desperate AFC East cellar dwellers. How’d he look? Well, very much like Matt Leinart. The lefty completed 3 of 10 passes for 11 yards, tossed two picks and … was released by the Bills on Friday. Thanks for playing, Matt Leinart.

2. Mark Sanchez, New York Jets

Sanchez didn’t play in the Jets’ final preseason game Thursday night because he was still nursing an injured shoulder suffered in the fourth quarter of last week’s preseason game (you probably heard something about that injury). He still had a tough night, however, because as Matt Simms was tearing it up for the Jets (285 yards), reports that Sanchez will not be ready to play in Week 1 were flying around the Internet. Yes, it looks like Geno Smith will get the start for the Jets against the Buccaneers.

3. Matt Cassel, Minnesota Vikings

Remember that time when Cassel took over for an injured Tom Brady, won 11 games with the Patriots, and then signed a huge deal with the Chiefs? Yea, so do Chiefs fans. Cassel didn’t throw an incompletion all night for the Vikings, but he only had three completions for 48 yards. That performance probably won’t go on his highlight video once his career is over. Was it horrible? No. Was it forgettable? Was what forgettable?

4. Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals

Carson Palmer, once one of the best QBs in the league when he played for the Bengals, also didn’t throw an incompletion Thursday night. But then again, he didn’t suit up for the Cardinals in their final preseason game against the Broncos. Palmer was given the night off as the team didn’t want to see its 33-year-old QB get injured before the season. Palmer’s challenge this year is a big one – Arizona had the worst offense in the NFL last year and started four different QBs. Go get ’em, Carson!

5. Matt Barkley, Philadelphia Eagles

After returning to USC last year to settle some “unfinished business” (which apparently was being on a team that lost 6 games and injuring his throwing shoulder), Barkley is the third-string QB behind Michael Vick and Nick Foles in Philly. Chances are we won’t be seeing much from Barkley this year and if we do that will mean some bad things have happened to the Eagles. Barkley went 13 0f 27 with zero TDs and an interception in the Eagles’ loss to the Jets. He’ll be back, tho. You can always count on Barkley to take care of some unfinished business. Right?

6. Cody Kessler, USC

Lane Kiffin didn’t know who would start for the Trojans in their season opener at Hawaii until Kessler beat Max Wittek in a game of rock/paper/scissors (it was best two out of three, according to no sources close to the situation) on the flight over to the 50th state. Kessler played the entire first half in his first collegiate start and finished 10 of 19 for 95 yards, a TD, and an INT. It wasn’t pretty, though, as USC trailed 5-3 in the second quarter and Trojan Nation FREAKED OUT on social media.

7. Max Wittek, USC

Wittek took over the USC offense last year after Barkley went down and led the Trojans to back-to-back losses to Notre Dame and Georgia Tech (in the Sun Bowl, ew). He had to wait until the second half against Hawaii to get some playing time, however, and then he went out and threw for 77 yards. Wittek later challenged Kessler to another game of rock/paper/scissors to see who will start in Week 2. No word yet on who won that game, but chances are their teammates couldn’t care less.