Column: Can Caleb Williams adapt and hold masking USC’s flaws?

Caleb Williams ran extra instances than he did in both of his two earlier video games, the event eliciting a curious query throughout the Trojans’ postgame information convention.

Was utilizing his legs some extent of emphasis as USC ready for the sport?

“For sure, it wasn’t a point of emphasis,” Williams stated, flashing a smile as he glanced over at coach Lincoln Riley.

He ran on Saturday night time as a result of he needed to.

Williams’ season-high 12 speeding makes an attempt within the 45-17 victory over Fresno State included three sacks. A number of the others have been on performs wherein the quarterback was chased out of the pocket.

“I tried not to run,” Williams stated, “but that’s an ability I have.”

As a lot consideration as Williams has attracted because the poster little one of the Switch Portal Trojans, he nonetheless stays one thing of a thriller, his Heisman-worthy statistics compiled towards completely overmatched opponents.

Spectacular performances towards Rice and Stanford don’t assure success towards Utah or Notre Dame, which made the sport towards Fresno State instructive.

The Bulldogs offered the 19-year-old Williams with as a lot adversity as he’s encountered right here — only a smidgen of adversity however adversity nonetheless.

“We said that all week with this team: We’re going to get tested, and we’re going to face some situations with this team that we haven’t been in yet as a team,” Riley stated.

Williams was sacked twice throughout USC’s remaining possession of the primary half. He was additionally sacked throughout the drive earlier than that.

The Trojans didn’t rating on both possession and went into the break with the visiting Bulldogs nonetheless inside placing distance at 21-10.

“Of course, he was hot because we didn’t score,” tight finish Malcolm Epps stated of Williams.

Williams responded emphatically.

Landing.

Landing.

Landing.

Behind Williams, the Trojans scored 21 factors throughout their first three drives of the second half, inserting the sport out of the Bulldogs’ restricted attain.

“His head is always up,” Epps stated. “Regardless of what it is, regardless of [whether it’s] at practice, he messes up a play, it’s always keep going, keep going, keep going, next play. “

Completing 16 of 26 passes during an uneven first half, Williams was 9 of 11 in the second. He finished with 284 passing yards, two passing touchdowns and a rushing touchdown.

“I thought we had to make some adjustments there after the second quarter, and I thought the adjustments were well received,” Riley stated. “He went out and executed them well. He’s learning to win and progress in different ways. That’s what quarterbacks do when they get older and more experienced. He’s seeing it well and has a good grasp of what we’re doing.”

USC quarterback Caleb Williams scores a landing towards Fresno State within the first quarter on the Coliseum on Saturday.

(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Instances)

Williams arrange the primary of USC’s three second-half touchdowns with an 18-yard move to Jordan Addison.

Williams additionally arrange the subsequent, this time with a 32-yard move to the again shoulder of fellow Oklahoma switch Mario Williams.

USC scored its remaining landing on a move by Williams, a 10-yard completion to a wide-open Epps.

“We went to halftime, we collected ourselves,” Williams stated. “We wanted to play a full game. That’s been our whole thing this week.

“Also, it was to be the hunters, not the hunted. That was our mentality. So, we came out fighting, came out shooting and we had a pretty good third quarter.”

In three video games, Williams has thrown for eight touchdowns and run for 2 extra. He nonetheless hasn’t turned over the ball.

USC scored touchdowns on every of its first three drives towards Fresno State. However the Bulldogs neutralized the Trojans’ deep threats, significantly Addison, who was Williams’ most well-liked goal early within the recreation.

Addison is certain to be double-teamed in some unspecified time in the future. What then?

Depth on the offensive line can also be a priority. When left sort out Bobby Haskins was compelled to go to the damage tent within the second quarter, Williams was sacked on the subsequent play.

The crew’s main left sort out, Courtland Ford, was injured per week earlier.

Williams didn’t sound nervous.

“It was small mistakes,” he stated. “Very small mistakes. Those small mistakes lead to stalling on drives, getting pushback, having a sack where I should have just dirted the ball or threw it out of bounds and gotten a field goal. Just really small mistakes.”

Addison very properly could possibly be the nation’s No. 1 receiver. Working backs Travis Dye and Austin Jones every rushed for greater than 100 yards on Saturday whereas averaging greater than 9 yards per carry.

However that is Williams’ offense. That is Williams’ crew.

And the place the Trojans find yourself will finally be decided by whether or not the sorts of changes he made towards Fresno State could possibly be made towards the likes of Utah or Notre Dame.