Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson throws against Wake Forest during… (Michael Conroy / Associated…)
Much of the focus in USC's game against top-ranked Notre Dame on Saturday will be on Trojans quarterback Max Wittek, a redshirt freshman starting for the first time in place of injured Matt Barkley.
But don't forget about Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson.
USC certainly hasn't.
Golson, a redshirt freshman, passed for 346 yards and three touchdowns in less than three quarters last week in Notre Dame's 38-0 victory over Wake Forest.
"He's throwing the ball really well," Monte Kiffin, USC's assistant head coach for defense, said Wednesday. "Kind of like the guy last week."
UCLA quarterback Brett Hundley gave USC fits at the Rose Bowl, completing 22 of 30 passes for 230 yards and a touchdown and also rushing for two touchdowns in the Bruins' 38-28 victory over the Trojans.
The 6-foot, 185-pound Golson has passed for 11 touchdowns, with five interceptions, in 10 games. He also has rushed for 258 yards and five touchdowns.
"He's like a Michael Vick," USC defensive tackle George Uko said. "He's elusive, fast and quick. He's got those happy feet, he's just everywhere and he knows how to stay up and he knows how to use his blockers and get the ball down the field."
Golson can be especially dynamic distributing the ball on option plays.
"He can do it behind his back, and I'm not kidding," Notre Dame Coach Brian Kelly said this week. "He was a point guard in high school and could distribute the ball. Great passer of the basketball. Ball comes out effortlessly and without much thought."
A remark Wittek made during a radio interview Tuesday generated headlines, but not much of a public reaction from the Fighting Irish.
"I'm going to go out there," Wittek said in the interview, "I'm going to play within myself, within the system, and we're going to win this ballgame."
Several media outlets construed that as Wittek's guaranteeing a victory.
"They probably just mis-said a few words," Notre Dame nose guard Louis Nix said Wednesday. "Who knows. Sometimes people speak out of turn and people try to boost it up. If he said it, he said it. If he didn't mean to, he didn't mean to. I don't really care. I'm just going out to the Coliseum and trying to play good football."
Said cornerback Bennett Jackson: "That's good for him, he's a confident kid. You have to be a confident kid when you're playing that position at a high level."
Linebacker Hayes Pullard, who was not in pads Tuesday, practiced Wednesday. ... USC will practice Thursday morning and players will have the afternoon and evening off for Thanksgiving. ... A toy drive sponsored by Coach Lane Kiffin's "Kiff's Kids" charity will be held Saturday at the Coliseum. Toys and unwrapped gifts can be dropped off at collection boxes that will be set up around the stadium. The toy drive benefits children from the local community.
Brian Hamilton of the Chicago Tribune contributed to this report.