It's beginning to look like the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets won't have to face Matt Barkley when they go up against the USC Trojans in the Sun Bowl on Dec. 31, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution's Ken Sugiura. Sugiura based this on an LA Times article that stated that Barkley, a possible first-round pick in the upcoming draft, didn't want to risk further injury to his throwing shoulder, which could hurt his draft stock.
Barkley, a possible first-round pick in the April NFL draft, injured his throwing shoulder against UCLA Nov. 17 and did not play the following week against Notre Dame. He has yet to take part in bowl practices. He has been expected to join practices with the team when it arrives in El Paso, Texas, on Dec. 26.
USC's backup quarterback, Max Wittek, is listed as a co-starter with Barkley and told the LA Times that he is prepared to lead USC in the bowl game. Georgia Tech interim defensive coordinator Charles Kelly stated that even if Wittek is announced the starter, he's going to prepare his defense for Barkley.
"If he's the backup quarterback or listed as the backup, he's not very far behind (Barkley)," Kelly said. "He made some unbelievable throws in the Notre Dame game. He's got a really, really strong arm, can throw the ball downfield, probably as far as anybody we've seen distance-wise. And then when you have good people around you - you've got good running backs, you've got good receivers, you've got a good offensive line, that usually makes your quarterback even better."
The Trojans are coming off a 7-5 season in the PAC-12 while the Yellow Jackets are coming off a 6-7 season in the ACC.