With USC football bringing in Lincoln Riley this offseason, there was of course going to be quite a bit of hype heading into 2022. There certainly has been, and it's deserved. Every now and then, however, SC sees a 2022 prediction that may be a little too overboard.
One of those times recently popped up with PFF ranking USC eighth in their 'Way-too-early 2022 college football top 25 rankings.' Now, the ranking's description notes that this could be a polarizing ranking.
That's true, as while the additions of Riley and five four and five star transfers this offseason sets USC up to have a sky-high ceiling, they are coming off of a four win season and are embarking on Year 1 of a new era with a new head coach.
PFF ranked USC football eighth because of Caleb Williams.
PFF has this USC football season resting on the shoulders of their new quarterback in Williams, in what they see as a boom-or-bust season:
"With a new staff and several major additions and losses from the transfer portal, this team is going to be completely different from this past year. Finding continuity will be key, but the biggest deciding factor in USC's Year 1 fate of the Lincoln Riley era is the performance of quarterback Caleb Williams."- Anthony Treash, PFF
If SC is ranked No. 8 then, it would appear that Williams is therefore expected to have a massive year for the Trojans. According to Treash, he's sold on Williams' talent, but does want to see improvement in his consistency and decision-making.
As for the good, Treash called Williams "one of the most talented quarterbacks in the country." He didn't stop there.
"Williams’ elite tools helped him to a 91.3 PFF grade in 2021, which broke Trevor Lawrence's record for the highest single-season mark by a true freshman quarterback in the PFF College era," said Treash.
Pointing out that mark showed just how impressive Williams truly is. That being said, Treash told another side of the story that needs to be considered when discussing Williams' areas of improvement to work on for next year.
"There were times when Williams made things a little bit more difficult than they needed to be, as he was always looking for the home run downfield. Due to that, Williams was often volatile, putting up four sub-70.0 passing grades since taking over for Spencer Rattler against Texas."- Anthony Treash, PFF
Treash followed that up by pointing out what might be the driving factor of his performance proving to be volatile at times, and some stats that show what needs to be an area of emphasis as he enters Year 2 in Riley's offense.
"Learning when to check down will be an area of emphasis in 2022," said Treash. "His 3.51-second average time to throw and 29.2% rate of quarterback-fault pressures were both among the three highest marks in the Power Five."
All in all, Treash has acknowledged the good and bad of Williams. He loves his talent and who he is at his highest, and sees that performance giving SC a similar season as to what he had at Oklahoma last year. That being said, his inconsistencies and deficiencies when holding the ball a bit too much could cause for him not to quite reach that full level of potential he has. USC truly does have a boom-or-bust outlook on next season, but luckily now that SC has a real coaching staff, that floor if they achieve 'bust' status is fortunately higher than what it was last year.