Anthony on LA: Stop doubting Caleb Williams

Quarterback Caleb Williams cocks back right arm to pass the football.
Sophomore quarterback Caleb Williams has thrown 12 touchdowns so far this season and only conceded one sole interception. (Patrick Hannan | Daily Trojan)

USC hasn’t had a quarterback like sophomore Caleb Williams in years. 

Williams is the best dual-threat player the Trojans have had under center since Sam Darnold, who simply wasn’t as elusive as Williams. Williams has a knack for keeping plays alive whenever it seems like there’s no shot. 

Through five games, he’s been one of the best quarterbacks in the country with 12 touchdowns, 1,402 passing yards and one interception — which took him five games to throw. He’s the heart of USC’s bustling offense, the captain of the ship, the (insert whatever leadership cliche you’d like) of the Trojans’ 5-0 start.

So, why even after he bounced back from his first poor game against Oregon State were questions still asked about Williams’ play? 

Look, he was terrible against the Beavers, throwing for 160 yards on 16-for-36 completions. He looked timid, inaccurate and flat-out shook playing in that rowdy environment. Head Coach Lincoln Riley had a valid explanation for Williams’ play. 

“It was just one of those nights…it’s like a pitcher in baseball. Sometimes you don’t have your best stuff,” said Riley early last week.

To make matters worse, Williams was made available to the media during the week, but didn’t actually talk to them, a bad sign for a player coming off his worst game of the season. One could say he was dodging questions. 

Riley defended his quarterback though saying Williams “had a couple of things going on, so didn’t do [media].” Williams said the same. 

“I had a few things that came up during the week, so I just had to skip it and go forth,” said Williams in a post-game press conference Saturday. “Now, I’m here.”

And here he was, shushing the doubters with an efficient 348-yard, 3 touchdown performance for the win against Arizona State. But, here some were continuing to wonder if Williams would be ready for tougher opponents such as Washington State and Utah. 

Are we forgetting who this quarterback is? Have we spoiled ourselves already? With all due respect, do we remember last season’s play between Kedon Slovis and Jaxson Dart?

Those two were doomed from the start of the season and now are excelling at their respective programs. But, they aren’t on the same level as Williams and that’s not a problem — most of the country isn’t. 

Just look at how Williams’ teammates describe him.

Redshirt senior running back Travis Dye on Williams’ ability to escape sacks: “At this point, I think it’s black magic. I don’t know. I go off and do my job looks like he’s about to be sacked and all of a sudden, he’s out of it and we have a 20-yard gain.”

Redshirt senior tight end Malcolm Epps said: “Can’t nobody mess with 1-3 for real… with him at the helm we can win the whole thing.” 

Junior wide receiver Brenden Rice said: “Caleb is a dog.” Rice went as far as to say he thought the quarterback “excelled” against Oregon State.

The players around him the most have the utmost confidence in Williams, and that’s all we need to know. No more doubts. No more wondering and thinking if big games will impact Williams’s play. 

Sure, he’s only started 12 games in his young college football career, but nothing has happened to be remotely concerned about his performances. He’s the best quarterback in the conference. 

When was the last time someone could say that about one at USC?

There hasn’t been a player like Williams under center for the Trojans in recent memory — let’s start appreciating it.