The much anticipated debut of Caleb Williams couldn’t have gone better for Sooners



About five minutes before kickoff, the suspense was lifted. The videobard announced to the world true freshman Caleb Williams was going to make his first start for Oklahoma.

The roar was deafening. The atmosphere was electric. And after four quarters of Williams showing what he could do, everybody was left wowed and excited to see more.

Williams’ starting debut couldn’t have gone better in OU’s 52-31 handling of visiting TCU on Saturday night in front of 84,391 fans.

The Sooners are 7-0 overall and 4-0 in the Big 12 and will move up one more spot in the polls with No. 2 Iowa being upset at home by Purdue.

Rankings, though, will hardly be a concern to OU fans if Williams does what he did Saturday the rest of the way. He completed his first 10 passes and led OU to back-to-back touchdown drives to begin the game and never looked back.

“I decided that we’re going to start him midweek sometime and I told both the guys what the plan was,” head coach Lincoln Riley said. “I gave them a bunch of credit man but both of them handle the week well. I was very confident playing either one of them.

“They both practiced extremely well, helped each other and supported each other even in the game tonight. They were you know just go very into it helping each other talking about things we’re doing adjustments.”

Williams was not made available for comment. Although Riley said he was ready to put Spencer Rattler in the game, the situation never presented itself as Williams kept the offense humming. Combine that with OU’s defensive struggles, it never made sense.

What did make sense was seeing Williams orchestrate the offense. The deep ball has returned for the Sooners. The running lanes are open for Kennedy Brooks. As Williams carved up the TCU defense through the air in the first half, he showed his legs in the second half.

Add it all up, and Williams accounted for 361 yards of total offense and five touchdowns (four passing, one rushing). He was 18-of-23 passing for 295 yards and rushed for 66 yards on nine attempts.

“He’s a great leader for being a freshman,” wide receiver Jadon Haselwood said. “I don’t think he ever feels pressure. He’s always like in a good mood. Even last week, he felt no pressure. Like no fear, and you can tell by the way he played. Just a great kid. He can sling it, he can run, he can do whatever he needs to do to get the ball downfield.”

All week there was the uncertainty. After Williams’ heroics vs. Texas last week, it felt like Williams had earned the right to get the call.

Riley said it was just business as usual for all involved once the decision was made.

“I just told him that’s how we’re gonna start the game and yea, pretty mundane honestly,” Riley said. “Not much to it and it felt honestly kind of like a normal week. Repped both those guys, gave Caleb a few more reps with the first group but other than that, honestly felt like a normal week.

“I don’t think he was a whole lot different and he didn’t need to be. He just needed to go out and be ready to play and be ready to play well, so again I think both those guys handled the week extremely well considering all the circumstances.”

Williams became just the fifth true freshman quarterback to start a game for OU and the first since Cale Gundy back in 1990.

It took 31 years, but for this OU team, it was well worth it. Williams’ poise was on full display, never getting rattled if things didn’t go to plan.

He was in firm control, and after scoring 55 and 52 points in the last two weeks, the OU offense feels like it’s back to what it’s supposed to be in the eyes of the fans.

“I think the biggest thing is Caleb is himself,” captain Pat Fields said. “I say that to say he’s like the same guy that we recruited. The same guy that we expected. He’s fiery. I didn’t play with Baker, but I think he kinda has some traits of Baker Mayfield. I played with K1 and I think he has some traits of K1 in terms of what we can do with the ball in his hands, how dynamic he is.

“I think he’s a special player. I think the thing is, the way you guys see him jumping up on the sideline, he’s like that every single day. He has that little kid joy for the game. I say that because it’s so important because a lot of guys they get tired of practicing. They get tired of the grind. But for him, he’s just excited every single day. He’s electric. I’m very happy with him. He’s the future of our program and I think he’s doing everything he can and should do.”

He’s the future, sure, but Williams showed Saturday night that he’s also the present. And that feels like it’s going to be a great thing for the Sooners the rest of the way.


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