March 5, 2024

USC quarterback Caleb Williams avoided the media Saturday after the team’s 38-20 loss to rival UCLA in what is speculated to be his final game with the Trojans before the NFL Draft.

Williams was 31 of 42 for 384 yards with a touchdown pass and an interception. USC dropped to 7-5 on the season and has lost five of its last six games, including three straight.

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Caleb Williams warms up

USC quarterback Caleb Williams warms up before the game against UCLA, Nov. 18, 2023, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ryan Sun)

After the game, USC told reporters that Williams “elected not to speak to the media,” according to the Los Angeles Times. The reigning Heisman Trophy winner, who came into the season as a contender to win it for the second time, faced backlash on social media over the move.

“Joe Burrow learned his season was over on Friday, understood his responsibility, and went out and held a news conference,” NFL Network reporter Ian Rapoport wrote on X, formerly Twitter. “The job of a QB and face of the franchise.”

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Williams seems to be NFL-bound in the wake of the game. It’s been rumored that he would skip the team’s bowl game to focus on preparing for the NFL Draft. But he hasn’t yet made that official.

USC coach Lincoln Riley called the loss “very, very disappointing.”

Caleb Williams yells

USC quarterback Caleb Williams is shown after his team’s 38-20 loss to UCLA, Nov. 18, 2023, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ryan Sun)

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“I mean, there’s no other way to put it,” he said. “I told the guys in the locker room I’ve clearly not done a good enough job in the second half of the season getting this team ready to go. … We just didn’t play good enough in any way.”

Riley commented on Williams after the game as well.

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Lincoln Riley vs UCLA

USC head coach Lincoln Riley is shown during the second half of the game against UCLA, Nov. 18, 2023, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ryan Sun)

“He came here and took a chance on this place and took a chance on being a part of restarting this program and getting it going,” he said of Williams. “He’s been a good player for us, a really good leader for us. He’s a special player, special competitor, and obviously we’ll see where it goes from here.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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