College Football Coach Raves About Caleb Williams, Takes Shot At USC Trojans

USC Trojans quarterback Caleb Williams
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Caleb Williams entered the 2023 season with an opportunity to join an exclusive list of two-time Heisman Trophy winners for a USC Trojans football program that had national championship aspirations. Instead, he ended his career with a disappointing season. However, it never changed how Williams was viewed around the game.

Entering the season ranked as the best player in the 2024 NFL Draft and viewed as a franchise-caliber talent for his future NFL team, Williams met that hype. While the Trojans fell well short of expectations, their quarterback’s draft stock never took a hit.

Related: 2024 NFL Draft prospect rankings, see where Caleb Williams land

  • Caleb Williams stats 2023 (ESPN): 3,633 passing yards, 68.6% completion rate, 30-5 TD-INT, 170.1 QB rating, 11 rushing touchdowns, 82.4 QBR

Some in the NFL and college football came away from the 2023 season even more impressed by Williams’ ability to overcome bad circumstances around him. Poised to be taken by a well-built Chicago Bears team with the No. 1 pick, there’s a strong belief Williams can do a lot more with his surroundings.

The latest NFL mock draft by Bruce Feldman of The Athletic featured coaching intel on the top picks, including comments on players from college football coaches who went against them.

“That kid is a magician. He just pulls stuff out of his a–. That program (USC) was in disarray. Without Caleb (last year), I think they go 4-8 easy. I think he is phenomenal. He’s extremely accurate off of his back foot, and on the run. He needs to keep working on throwing on time and getting on rhythm.”

Anonymous CFB coach on Caleb Williams, USC Trojans

While Williams has never expressed anything but support for the Trojans coaching staff last season, especially Lincoln Riley and Kliff Kingsbury, others have been far more critical. One of the most common frustrations voiced by draft analysts when watching Williams’ film is how the play-calling and route designs let the quarterback down.

Related: 2024 NFL Draft quarterback rankings, Caleb Williams scouting report

  • Caleb Williams college stats: 169.3 QB rating, 10,082 passing yards, 9.2 yards per attempt, 93 passing touchdowns, 66.9 percent completion rate

An even bigger criticism, though, centered on USC’s offensive line. As the college coach told Feldman, however, Williams’ athleticism was highlighted in 2023 in part because of how often he evaded more sacks.

“He’s faster than you think. It’s really impressive how he can elude defenders and keep his eyes down the field. I think he knew he had to make a lot of plays with his legs because their O-line was not good.”

Anonymous coach on the condition Caleb Williams played through highlighting his elusiveness (H/T The Athletic)

Related: Lincoln Riley raves about new USC Trojans running back

Williams didn’t have the benefit of playing behind an elite offensive line like LSU Tigers quarterback Jayden Daniels. Instead, he stood in a pocket that allowed the 19th-most pressures (106) among Power 5 teams last season, per Pro Football Focus.

Fortunately, Williams is headed for a much better situation in the NFL. As for the Trojans, new additions to the coaching staff and incoming talent should lead to significant improvements long term.