After throwing just one interception in the first six games of the season, USC quarterback Caleb Williams threw three interceptions in the first half against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. What has gone wrong for Williams, and does it mean anything for his stock?
Caleb Williams Throws Three Interceptions in Forgettable First Half
For most of the 2023 season, Caleb Williams has not only been the favorite for the No. 1 overall pick but also one of the top contenders for the Heisman Trophy. Heading into the Notre Dame game, he’d completed 119 of 166 passes for 1,822 yards, 22 touchdowns, and just one interception.
Now, in the first half of Notre Dame alone, he’s quadrupled his interception on the year. He threw two interceptions to Fighting Irish nickel defender Xavier Watts — one of which was a near pick-six — and a third to underclassman CB Benjamin Morrison.
Williams’ first interception was a high miss on a back-foot throw. His next two came as the result of lapses in field vision while Williams attempted to create. All told, Williams’ turnovers helped Notre Dame amass a 24-3 lead ahead of the half.
Re-Evaluating Williams’ 2024 NFL Draft Stock
Even if Williams tosses two more picks after the intermission, he’ll still be a front-runner for the No. 1 overall pick because of his tools. He’s a high-level creator with superb arm elasticity and arm strength — and a rare off-script and off-platform feel. Those traits alone are incredibly valuable in the modern NFL.
MORE: Free NFL Mock Draft Simulator
More than anything, Williams’ first-half meltdown, rather than reworking his entire profile, simply put a spotlight on some of his flaws.
There has been sentiment at times that Williams is a comparable prospect to Trevor Lawrence and Andrew Luck — both viewed as generational talents. This proves that, while Williams is exceptional, the generational arguments may be a bit hasty.
Williams came into the season needing to improve his initial progression work and in-structure efficiency. This game has also put under the spotlight a need for enhanced mechanical discipline and discretion in high-pressure situations.
The USC signal-caller has been very good off-script against pressure this year, but Notre Dame has given him less space to work with, and the coverage has been suffocating. And in turn, we’ve seen the other edge of Williams’ double-edged sword — his high-octane but high-volatility play style.
There’s no need to re-order the draft board. But at the same time, perhaps we needed to temper the hype for Williams a bit. He’s an extraordinary talent and a perfect fit for the modern NFL, but he’s also a markedly imperfect prospect. And this game has put a microscope on where he can still improve.
All this considered, there is a silver lining for Williams. If he can come out in the second half, improve his decision-making and discretion, and lead USC to a comeback victory, or even a close, competitive loss, it would be a valuable measure of his resolve and resilience through adversity, with NFL evaluators watching closely.
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