Lincoln Riley cites experience to explain Caleb Williams' lack of time in spring game

On3 imageby:Peter Warren04/16/23


USC fans looking to get a good look at Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams during the spring game were likely do be somewhat disappointed.

Williams played only the first possession of the game before sitting down for the rest of the game.

Trojans head coach Lincoln Riley said the lack of playing time for Williams in the spring game had nothing to do with an injury concerns. Instead, Riley said he thought there were more players on the USC roster who could benefit from the extra playing time.

“He’s played a lot of football,” Riley said after the spring game. “You come into a deal like this, my job is to look at it of what can we get the most out of today. I don’t know that playing two or three more series is going to change anything for Caleb in September, October, November right now. For a guy like Miller Moss, who hasn’t had a lot of live-game snaps, these are invaluable. For a guy like Malachi Nelson or Jake Jensen, this is kind of the first time to really do it. Malachi especially being a true freshman. These snaps are way way more valuable to those guys than maybe somebody that’s played the amount of ball that Caleb has. He had a good first series. We knew coming in that was kind of the thought. We were gonna probably play him one series and let the other guys get the rest of the game.”

Miller Moss was the backup quarterback last year, playing in five games and going 12 of 14 with 159 yards and one touchdown.

One of the Trojans’ top recruits in the 2023 cycle, early enrollee Malachi Nelson was a five-star recruit and No. 11 overall prospect in the 2023 On3 Industry Ranking, a weighted average that utilizes all four major recruiting media companies.

Jake Jensen — a former quarterback at BYU and Contra Costa Junior College in  San Pablo, Calif. — did not play in any games last year for the Trojans.

Williams, on the other hand, has nearly two years of experience against Power Five competition. He holds multiple single-season records for the Trojans after a record-setting 2022 season. Among the single-season records he holds include total offense with 4,919 yards, passing and rushing touchdowns combined with 52 and passing efficiency with 168.5.

Expectations are high for the Trojans entering Year 2 under Riley and with Williams playing in the game.