USC Football QB1 Caleb Williams popped his hamstring in the Pac-12 Championship on Friday. SC was up 7-3, and Williams took off for a 59 yard run on his second drive of the game. He got injured on that run. He immediately appeared to have lost most of his mobility.
He had enough health left in him at the time to march out to a 17-3 lead, but in the second quarter his mobility was completely shot, and just kept getting even worse. It's of course the main reason why SC ended up blowing the lead and losing the game.
It was too much to overcome for the Trojans; especially when the No. 1 skill position pass-blocker for SC--Travis Dye--has been out since he suffered a knee injury in Week 11, and No. 1 Offensive Lineman on the team in Left Guard Andrew Vorhees also was ruled out for the game.
Not to mention, No. 2 Offensive Lineman on the team in Center Brett Neilon also ended up going down to injury in the game. He went down at a crucial point, as SC was looking to come back 10 points down and was driving on the Utes' side of the field. All these injuries had the pocket collapsing, and Williams couldn't move to escape anything.
The read options SC was excelling in all season, and especially in the first quarter, stopped working because Utah knew Williams couldn't pull it in and run himself. The running game in general was shot, not only due to RB1 Dye being out and the O-Line injuries, but because Utah could easily key in on the running back with Williams not even at 50% health.
Caleb Williams and USC Football still were awarded for their 11-2 season with a Cotton Bowl invite.
Even with the Pac-12 Championship loss, it was still a fantastic season for the 11-2 USC Football program in their first season under Head Coach Lincoln Riley. Especially when remembering that this team was 4-8 last year before Riley showed up. The issue is, however, Williams may not be able to play in the Cotton Bowl vs. Tulane.
According to Riley, his hamstring injury is "significant." He even said that "It’s probably good we’re not playing for the next 2-3 weeks.” He added that "We'll rehab him hard and hope to have him available."
So, while RIley will "rehab him hard and hope to have him available," it is by no means a sure thing that he plays. Again, Riley explained after the game on Friday that Williams wasn't even at 50%. Anyone with eyes could of course see it too.
This injury is by no means minor, and it's very easy to see why it's better for his chances to return that the game isn't in these next two or three weeks, and isn't until January 2nd. He was playing on one leg out there on Friday. If Williams is able to go, though, SC has a legit chance to win the game. Williams is likely about to be the Heisman Trophy winner, as he completed 66.1% of his passes for 4,075 yards this season.
He also averaged 10.3 adjusted passing yards per attempt, and tacked on 372 rushing yards. He threw just four picks all season, and had 47(!) total touchdowns (37 passing). If he's healthy, SC undoubtedly has a real shot to take this Cotton Bowl.
And January 2nd is a month after the day he injured the hamstring, so even though Riley descibed the injury as "pretty severe," this program will have a lot of time to rehab the injury.
If he can't go, SC will turn to Miller Moss, who has played well when given the opportunity in his two-year college career. Moss has completed 74.1% of his 27 pass attempts in his two years of college ball, for 8.6 yards per pass attempt and 10.1 adjusted yards per pass attempt. He has a 2:0 TD:INT ratio.