Caleb Williams will be QB1 for USC football next season. It's silly to indicate that any other QB on the roster has a chance to compete with him (although I am a huge fan of Miller Moss). Williams was the leading Heisman contender at one point last year, despite him not even starting until the second half of the season.
Last year, Williams had a 64.5 completion percentage with a 9.1 yards per pass attempt average with 21 touchdowns and four picks (seven starts). On the ground, he had 79 carries for 442 yards (5.6 yards per carry) and six touchdowns. Per one of my latest articles, I explain that he will likely not be rushing the ball as much next year, due to him not being as good of a quarterback when asked to take on double-digit carries.
Therefore, I do think that he will have a slightly different role which will result in slightly different levels of success. I think it will make him a better passer, however, as he will get more reps and more comfortable as a passer if he's doing it more. Also, he suffered at times as a passer when he was asked to run more than usual in those games. It's not the type of role he belongs in.
Caleb Williams' passing stats will improve with USC football.
As Caleb Williams becomes a more comfortable passer with USC football, I expect him to be more accurate. I wouldn't call Williams inaccurate--certainly not. The eye test makes it clear that that's not the case. He did, however, have just a 64.5 completion percentage. That's tied for 37th in the country.
Again, he's FAR more accurate than the 37th most accurate QB in America, but I think that as he gets more comfortable in Lincoln Riley's system and more comfortable in the pocket, his numbers will show how accurate he truly is. I expect him to raise that completion percentage to 67%. That would have placed him tied for 19th in the country in 2021.
With improved completion percentage would result in more overall efficiency as well, so I expect Williams' yards per attempt to improve significantly. I expect that 9.1 yards per attempt average to go up about half a yard. Getting up to 9.6 would have placed Williams at sixth in the nation last year, which is better than his ninth place finish in 2021.
USC doesn't have as dominant of a receiving core for 2022 as they have in the past couple of decades, but they still are loaded with MANY talented deep threats, and the vertical passing game is going to be as crucial as anything. Expect Williams to try to push the ball down the field, resulting in a higher yards per attempt number.
Therefore, many probably are wondering how many yards he'll have. Well, last year, he threw 175 passes in his seven starts. So, in 13 games in 2022 (I do not have SC playing in the Pac-12 Championship game) I expect him to throw over a couple hundred more than that--392 passes.
Again, I think he'll be throwing more due to Riley likely learning that Williams was better when not rushing the ball 10 or more times per game. He's going to want him firing from the pocket quite a bit. So, I expect 392 passes and 9.6 yards per pass attempt from Williams. Therefore, I predict Williams will record 3,763 passing yards in 2022.
Tossing 21 touchdowns last season despite starting only seven games, I expect Williams to hit 40 this upcoming season. Since I have him throwing more in 2022, that interception number will likely be significantly higher than his four from 2021. That being said, he's not a turnover-prone player, so expect him to not hit double-digits. I have him with nine picks in 2022.
So as far as his passing goes, I predict a 67% completion percentage and a 9.6 yards per pass attempt rate for 3,763 yards and 40 TDs to 9 INTs. When it comes to rushing, he likely will average a bit less than his 10 rushes per game in 2021. Expect that number to dip to 7.25, which was the carries per game mark he had in the four games he did not go for 10 or more carries in.
With the backs that SC has to use in the running game, I can't see Williams turning into more of a threat with his legs. He'll get his carries, but SC will look to give Travis Dye and Raleek Brown the bulk of the best opportunities to run the rock. So, I don't expect to see an increase in the yards per carry department. That being said, I don't expect to see a decrease with him getting more comfortable at this level during Year 2 of this offense.
So on the ground, I expect 94 carries for 527 yards (94 carries) and eight touchdowns. Sure, those rushing numbers aren't significantly better than what he put forward in 2021, but they are better. The first true dual-threat QB that SC's had since Sam Darnold, Williams is an exciting get that is the most anticipated transfer in college football history. While I'm not sure that he'll be able to bring USC to a Pac-12 Championship just yet, he'll put up some eye-popping individual numbers that will prove just how special he is as a talent.