Utah quarterback Troy Williams could have spent the past week dropping the West Coast’s most fire diss track since “Hit ‘Em Up.”
A transfer from Washington, via the junior college ranks, Williams could have upped the ante on an already high-stakes showdown of Pac-12 divisional leaders. But that’s not the quarterback’s style.
The temptation to take shots publicly, or to press in hopes of showing his old team what it lost, “with most players, it would be” the case according to Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham.
“But not with him,” Whittingham added. “He’s such a mature, down-to-earth kid. He’s certainly excited for this opportunity, but the way he carries himself… is exactly like you’d want the quarterback and leader of your team to operate.”
If Williams were to get distracted focusing on his besting his old team, it’s understandable. He came to Washington a recruit of Steve Sarkisian, who was then implementing a Kevin Sumlin-influenced offense friendly to Williams’ skill set.
Sarkisian’s departure for USC brought Petersen to Seattle, and Williams’ place in the program became evident rather quickly.
“It just didn’t work out,” he told the Seattle Times in 2015; an effective five-word summation of so many quarterback situations around college football every single season.
It’s been about 22 months since. Twenty-two long months to envision an opportunity to prove what Washington missed. Current Husky quarterback Jake Browning may be a Heisman Trophy front-runner, but if Utah wins on Saturday…?
Twenty-two months, and one week under the microscope.
Talk of Washington’s visit to Rice-Eccles Stadium began almost the moment Utah finished off UCLA to remain tied with Colorado atop the Pac-12 South one week ago.
“It’s football. It happens,” he said at the Rose Bowl last Saturday. “I’m not frustrated about it.”
If 22 months made Williams bitter, he wasn’t showing it a week ago.
No animosity exists between Williams and any of the 11 white jerseys that will line up opposite his Utes Saturday.
“They’ve got a great quarterback that could really lead them,” Washington cornerback Kevin King said in July. “In every game they play, expect one, I hope he plays well.”
King’s assessment proved prescient, and thus far, Williams has played well enough for the Utes to win. Utah’s a single goal-line stand (by Cal) shy of pitting unbeatens head-to-head in this clash.
Nevertheless, the friendly competition of Week 9 might be the biggest game on the 2016 Pac-12 calendar. The Utes and Huskies are the conference’s highest-ranked teams. No matter the final score in Salt Lake City, the two could see each other again in Santa Clara come December.
Those two potential paths to Levi’s Stadium and the Pac-12 Championship Game prove that while the relationship between Williams and Washington didn’t work out, the two sides are doing just fine.
Williams fits Utah’s approach rather seamlessly. He can and will run as the situation dictates. He can be dangerous passing when the defense allows it. Williams is indeed dropping fire this season, and he could again in one of the biggest games for Utah since joining the Pac-12 five years ago.
He just won’t drop that fire on the microphone.