Could Caleb Williams be in New York for the Heisman Trophy ceremony in December?
It’s not impossible.
Even following the Sooners’ bye week, Williams has the fifth-best odds to win the Heisman Trophy, according to Vegas Insider. The Action Network, which specializes in sports betting, also has Williams at No. 5 and gives the true freshman an 11.8 percent chance of winning.
He’s also gained traction for several college football awards. He was announced Thursday as a semifinalist for the Walter Camp Player of the Year Award and the Davey O’Brien Award, which is given annually to the nation’s top quarterback.
According to Pro Football Focus, he’s also currently the highest-rated quarterback in college football.
The expectations are already high for a quarterback that has started just three games in his career. But OU coach Lincoln Riley said the focus with Williams has been on continuing to grow as a player.
“I think he’s just trying to improve,” Riley said Thursday. “We’re just trying to improve and get him more comfortable with running our system. Our belief is if we run our system at a high level, you don’t get as concerned with the guys on the other sideline.”
“That’s been a little bit more of our focus overall and our focus with him is just continuing to get better at us. Try to understand some of the different challenges you’re going to face every week. But again, for us it’s to be better at running OU’s offense and be better at doing your job, and I think if he can continue to do that with these new challenges, new things schematically that he’ll see more going forward, he’ll continue to improve.”
In the Sooners last outing, Williams was nearly perfect against Texas Tech. His 402 passing yards set a true freshman record, and his six touchdowns also tied Landry Jones for a freshman record.
But the opponents will only get tougher down the stretch.
Iowa State and Oklahoma State, the Sooners’ final two regular-season opponents, both rank inside the Top 25 nationally in passing yards allowed. Both teams, along with Baylor, all rank inside the Top 35 nationally in rushing defense.
It’ll be a tough test for Williams. But Riley is confident his quarterback is ready for it.
“We get that we’re going to play some tough defenses coming up,” Riley said. “We’re a pretty good offense, too. When we play to our standard and we’re playing at a high level, we’ve got a group that can be tough to stop.
[Williams’ is] a good player. There’s some defenses that are going to do some things that give you trouble and you’ve got to work through it. But he’s going to give people some trouble, too.”
But if the Sooners win and Williams plays well, his Heisman stock will only go up.
• Excused absence: Riley met with the media Thursday after missing his regularly-scheduled press conference on Tuesday.
The OU coach said he missed because of a personal matter that was unrelated to football.
“[It was a] personal matter that I was dealing with, and dealt with it,” Riley said. “It didn’t take away from any of our preparation here. Thankfully, back to normal now.”
• Kickoff for Iowa State set: The Sooners will have another early kickoff in their final home game next week.
Kickoff is set for 11 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 20 in Norman and will be broadcast on Fox Sports.