Lincoln Riley not concerned with QB play; says few can make the game-winning throw Caleb Williams made
Lincoln Riley compared Caleb Williams’ night in Corvallis over the weekend to a pitcher who takes the mound one night and is just a little off the mark.
“Some nights you don’t have your best stuff,” Riley told reporters this week. “It happens.”
Williams was 16-for-36 throwing the football this past Saturday. It tied a game against Iowa State when Williams was at Oklahoma last year for the lowest completion percentage (44.4%) of his career. Williams’ team won both games. USC had to grind it out a little more against Oregon State than that OU team did to beat Iowa State, but Williams made clutch plays late to help the Trojans to a 17-14 win.
“He missed a couple throws. Just had one of those nights where he wasn’t at his best, throwing-wise,” Riley said. “Saw things pretty well. Had a couple missed decisions, just missed a few throws. That’s gonna happen (to) even the best of throwers. He’s as gifted as they come.
“You’re gonna have days like that. It’s like a pitcher in baseball. … There were a couple things fundamentally, but there are every game — even the games when we complete 90% of our passes there’s always a few things you go back fundamentally and correct.”
With less than five minutes on the clock in the fourth quarter, Williams led an 11-play, 84-yard drive that delivered USC the game-winning touchdown. Williams got things rolling with connections to Tahj Washington for 23 yards on the first two plays of the drive to get things rolling. Then he fired a dart to the right sideline and Jordan Addison for a 21-yard touchdown.
“He did a good job resetting and made some big-boy throws. I mean, that last throw… There ain’t five dudes in the country that can make that throw. Especially in that moment. Nah, he’ll be fine.”
Riley isn’t the least bit concerned about Williams, who still leads all Pac-12 quarterbacks and sits inside the top 10 nationally in Total QBR through four weeks.
“If any of these things are out of sync it can look a little bit off, right?” Riley said. “Protection’s out of sync, a route’s out of sync, footwork, bad preparation, bad coaching, anything can make it look a little off. And we had instances of all of those. And when you do that, the offense is just gonna be a tick off. And when you’re a tick off against a good defense, it can look like it did the other night.”
He expects things to look better in Week 5. Williams and the Trojans welcome Arizona State to the L.A. Coliseum on Saturday for a 7:30 p.m. PT tilt. The game is set to be broadcast on ESPN.