The torrent of congratulatory texts and calls had been already blowing up his cellphone by the point cameras caught Caleb Williams coyly strike that well-known Heisman pose alongside the USC sideline, the star quarterback humoring the Trojans teammates who begged him to take action.
The Heisman Trophy race was all however locked up by that time, his dazzling four-touchdown efficiency in a win over Notre Dame as becoming a ultimate coronation as any undecided voter may hope for. However because the untimely congratulations continued to roll in, Williams has performed his finest to tune them out — after he sends a “Thank you” textual content in reply, after all.
“We have bigger goals in mind here toward the end of this season,” Williams mentioned Tuesday.
The primary of these comes Friday in Las Vegas, the place USC will duel Utah with a Pac-12 title on the road and the hope of avenging its solely loss hanging on its slippery star quarterback. Beat Utah, and the Faculty Soccer Playoff semifinals virtually definitely await.
In between, nonetheless, there must be loads of time for acceptance speeches.
Williams ought to most likely begin writing his now. Not solely is he the odds-on favourite to win the Heisman, Williams was additionally named a finalist for the Davey O’Brien Award, given to the nation’s finest quarterback, and the Maxwell Award, additionally given to the highest participant. He’s a shoo-in as an All-American — and can be USC’s fifth quarterback to carry the respect — and might be the captain of the AFCA Good Works staff, for good measure.
However the Heisman is the celebrated honor that looms over USC and Williams with the largest recreation of his life awaiting this weekend. Not that Williams appears to thoughts. He’s been conditioned his complete life to remain poised below strain.
“I want to win and getting too big-headed and focusing on the highs and anything like that is where you start going downhill,” Williams mentioned. “So focusing on routine, being here, trying to win with these guys and leading them keeps things in perspective.”
That wouldn’t cease his teammates from marveling a bit over their quarterback. Requested about one among Williams’ gorgeous scrambles towards Notre Dame, Justin Dedich smiled.
“I didn’t know who to block, man,” USC’s proper guard mentioned. “I went right, I went left. I was like, what’s he gonna do? I thought maybe he would slide. I was just watching it. I kind of looked like a dummy, just running around.”
“It’s unbelievable, the things he can do.”
Not so vengeful
Lincoln Riley is not any stranger to the revenge recreation narrative. Which is precisely why he was desirous to shut it down Tuesday within the lead-up to Friday’s rematch with Utah, who dealt the Trojans their solely defeat final month.
“This is not a revenge game,” Riley mentioned. “That’s not what this is. We played a really good football game, as did Utah up in Salt Lake. It was an elite college football game. It came down to one play here or there. They got us that time. But this is not about that game. This is a new game, a new challenge, a new setting, teams have evolved. Both teams have changed certainly throughout the year.”
These changes have solely ever labored in Riley’s favor. Twice earlier than at Oklahoma, in 2018 and 2020, Riley avenged common season losses with victories over the identical opponents (Texas and Iowa State) within the Large 12 title recreation. The win in 2018 despatched the Sooners to the Faculty Soccer Playoff semifinals.
Riley was requested Tuesday what he’s realized from that rematch expertise that would assist this week.
“I think you have to understand that the way the first [game] played out is not necessarily the way the second one plays out,” Riley mentioned. “Lot of times they actually play out very differently in terms of flow of the game and just kind of how it goes. You have to reset yourself and be ready to go.”