USC star quarterback Caleb Williams “injured his hamstring” in the first quarter of the No. 4 Trojans’ 47-24 loss to No. 11 Utah in Friday night’s 2022 Pac-12 championship game, USC coach Lincoln Riley said after the game. . Williams never left the field for more than a game, but was visibly limping, unable to break out of his pocket with his usual speed and agility, while being sacked seven times as he struggled to evade defenders.
Riley said that Williams “didn’t even get 50%” in the last three quarters, and although he wanted to eliminate the sophomore from the game, Williams “wouldn’t let me.”
“From the point of view of the guys I coached in this position, it was probably the most daring performance I have ever seen,” Riley said. “Most guys wouldn’t even play, but he gave us a chance anyway.”
Williams completed 28 of 41 passes for 363 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. By the end of the game, he had gained only 21 rushing yards as most of the yards he had on the ground in the first quarter were consumed by a lost yard on the sacks. Despite his injuries – Williams also injured the little finger on his throwing hand, which was bleeding profusely – he still made some impressive plays along the way.
Riley indicated that Williams was injured on an impressive 59-yard run in the first quarter, which helped set up a touchdown that gave the Trojans a 14–3 lead. Ultimately, USC went up 17–3 before trailing 44–7 the rest of the way.
Williams’ injuries and loss to Utah put a devastating end to USC’s college football playoff bid, but it’s certain that Williams’ hopes for Heisman are still alive.
Despite his obvious mobility issues against the Jutes, he still performed statistically impressive. Voters may also have been impressed with how he eviscerated injuries, even though USC failed. Not to mention, his performance in the regular season finale against UCLA last week probably helped voters decide on the upcoming championship weekend.