The Obvious: A week from this Saturday, Lincoln Riley’s 2023 Trojans will showcase to the public what days of clandestine spring practices have produced.
The Not So Obvious: If you remember, Riley’s first spring game a year ago left cardinal and gold Coliseum patrons wanting more, prompted by Riley having his troops – for the most part – a real game with real hitting and real tackling before an ESPN national telecast. It was a highly satisfactory fan experience for those in the Coli and for those watching on ESPN, and the O/NSO didn’t hear the type of spring post-game moaning complaints of a Clay Helton spring game. Of course, part of the intrigue was the participation of former Oklahoma quarterback transfer Caleb Williams.
The Obvious: The big draw on offense next Saturday will be returning 2022 Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Caleb Williams, who will now be a junior.
The Not So Obvious: Unless something dramatic occurs, this will be Caleb’s last spring game and season as a USC Trojan. It figures a year from now next April he will be at or near the very top of the overall NFL draft. Looking at all the available information, there isn’t one draft site that doesn’t have the Washington DC native on top of its list possibilities.
The Obvious: When Caleb Williams starts the spring game at quarterback, USC fans may be looking at an improved quarterback, who is already considered the best college football player in America.
The Not So Obvious: If this is Williams’ last season as a USC football player, his final legacy resume will be determined by what happens this upcoming season. If No. 13 captures his second Heisman Award, it would vault him above the likes of Trojans Matt Leinart and Carson Palmer, both Heisman winners, as the greatest USC quarterback in the modern history of the Trojans. On an individual basis, it would be hard not to say he is the greatest. In fact, the way Williams plays, there would be a solid argument he is the greatest quarterback in the history of Trojans football. His combination of passing and running would make him elite in any era.
The Obvious: How much will Caleb Williams’ legacy depend on what the Trojans do in 2023?
The Not So Obvious: For all his greatness, Williams is still looking to win a Pac-12 title, and ironically if this is to be Caleb’s final USC season, it comes at a time when the Trojans football program has its last shot at winning a Pac-12 championship before departing to the Big Ten in 2024. Leading the Trojans to a final conference title before its departure would become history in itself if Williams and the 2023 Men of Troy can make it happen.
Can USC QB Caleb Williams lead his 2023 team to a conference title and a seed in the College Football Playoff?
(Photo above by Matthew Visinsky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
The Obvious: The upcoming season will probably be also the last opportunity for Caleb Williams to take his final team into the College Football Playoff.
The Not So Obvious: The O/NSO remembers the career of USC’s first Heisman Trophy winner, tailback Mike Garrett, who was brilliant for three seasons but never played in a Rose Bowl. Not playing in a Rose Bowl has always haunted Garrett over the years despite his collegiate greatness. How much Williams not getting an opportunity to play in the CFP post-season is probably something that this young adult would rather not contemplate as spring ball comes to its conclusion and the new season is on the horizon.
The Obvious: The 2023 season will be a golden opportunity for Caleb Williams to merge both team success with his own individual accomplishments.
The Not So Obvious: There are few players in the history of USC football that have garnered both team and personal success in the same season. When Mike Garrett (1965), O.J. Simpson (1968), Charles White (1979), Carson Palmer (2002), and Reggie Bush (2005) won the Heisman Trophy, their teams did not win a national championship. Only Matt Leinart (2004) in USC history has won both a Heisman and a national title in the same season. Can Caleb Williams follow Leinart?
The odds work against Williams winning a second Heisman as only former Ohio State tailback Archie Griffin (1974 and 1975) has accomplished such a feat. Add to the fact that USC is still building its football program under second-year head coach Lincoln Riley makes challenging for a national championship a very difficult lift. For Williams to win a second Heisman and a national title would be of legendary stuff.
Only QB Matt Leinart has won both a Heisman Trophy and a national championship in the same season (2004).
(Photo above by Jeff Zelevansky/Icon SMI/Icon Sport Media via Getty Images)
The Obvious: It’s a good bet that if Caleb Williams has the type of season in 2023 as most expect, he will likely be the sixth player in USC football history to be the No. 1 overall pick in an NFL draft.
The Not So Obvious: The other Trojans selected No. 1 overall include QB Carson Palmer, TBs O.J. Simpson and Ricky Bell, WR Keyshawn Johnson, and OT Ron Yary, who was USC’s first in this category. Place Williams into this select group and his legacy becomes even stronger in terms of individual accomplishments.
The Obvious: And finally, it appears the final chapter to Caleb Williams growing USC legacy gets its final spring sendoff next Saturday in the Coliseum.
The Not So Obvious: Even if Williams just plays in the first quarter of the spring game, it will be worth the enjoyment and entertainment that only he can bring. Does he finally establish himself as the greatest quarterback in the history of USC – that’s a heavy load to attain? As of right now, it’s an unanswered question. However, Caleb will have one probable last seasonal opportunity to state his case, and USC fans can gauge his progress in a sample size next Saturday afternoon in the Grand Old Lady.
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