What does Matt Fink’s transfer mean for the USC quarterback battle?

Alicia de Artola/Reign of Troy
Alicia de Artola/Reign of Troy /

How does Matt Fink’s decision to transfer affect USC football in 2019? It clarifies the quarterback competition, but complicates depth.

SPRING CAMP. Four Major Takeaways

USC football lost redshirt junior quarterback Matt Fink to the transfer portal on Wednesday afternoon, a move which will reshape and focus the Trojans’ quarterback battle going forward.

Fink had a good Spring Camp showing, certainly far ahead of where he stood this time last year, when both he and Jack Sears left the door wide open for JT Daniels to arrive in Fall Camp and take the job.

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As a redshirt junior, Fink was the veteran of the quarterback group and his experience seemed to serve him well. He was the most vocal of the quarterbacks and the most concerned with keeping up the tempo of USC’s new Air Raid offense.

However, offensive coordinator Graham Harrell cautioned that Fink’s competitiveness and tendency to chatter could get him into trouble. He wanted to see Fink level out a bit.

Ultimately, it appears that Fink couldn’t reach the ceiling of his fellow quarterbacks. He was mobile, but less so than Sears. He also lacked the elite arm talent of JT Daniels.

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Since head coach Clay Helton indicated each player would be given a sense of where he stood coming out of Spring Camp, Fink’s decision to transfer signals where he landed in the pecking order. It’s reasonable to assume he trailed both of his returning teammates. If he fell behind surprisingly-bright early enrollee quarterback Kedon Slovis, that would be even more incentive to move on to other opportunities.

On one hand, Fink’s departure could help the Trojans focus the quarterback battle. Last year, it felt like a detriment for three quarterbacks to be getting equal reps late into Fall Camp. USC could do that once more if they opt to keep Slovis in the mix for the starting job, but it seems more likely that Daniels and Sears will be in a two-man battle when Fall Camp starts. That means more reps for both to make their case.

On the other hand, Fink leaving has roster implications for the Trojans. Last year, USC made it through the season with just three scholarship quarterbacks, but it was a point of worry to have little depth at the position. Once again, they are in the position of being a quarterback light.

SEE ALSO: Does Jack Sears deserve the chance to start?

And that’s not taking into account the possibility of the loser of the quarterback battle jumping ship once the battle is decided. If that were to happen, the future starter and Slovis would be the only scholarship quarterbacks available. The ability to protect Slovis’ redshirt would be in danger.

USC could attempt to solve that problem by dipping into the transfer portal for an additional body themselves, but it may be hard to entice a quarterback to join as a backup. That’s particularly true with five-star quarterback Bryce Young committed for the recruiting class of 2020.

The Trojans have survived past quarterback transfers and they will have to figure out a way to dealing with low numbers again.

As for Fink, he is on track to graduate this semester and will be eligible to play immediately wherever he lands.