Meet Utah QB Troy Williams, the most intriguing player in Week 9

WP

The most intriguing player this week in college football is Utah QB Troy Williams. The No. 17 Utes host No. 4 Washington (3:30 ET on FS1), which brings the West Coast’s most ferocious defense, a group that doesn’t need to blitz to get tremendous pressure on the quarterback. Earlier this year, the Huskies throttled Stanford and got eight sacks without blitzing one time (technically, their lone blitz occurred on a play that was nullified by a penalty).

U-Dub, riding a 10-game winning streak, also has scored 62 points this season off takeaways, so it’ll be critical that Williams keeps the mistakes to a minimum.

The other big reason why I’m fascinated to see how Williams handles this situation is because this one is so personal to him. The L.A. native started his college career at Washington. He was a Steve Sarkisian recruit and appeared to be the Huskies' QB of the future, but then Sarkisian bolted to USC and Chris Petersen took over.

Earlier this month I visited with Williams before our Arizona-Utah game on FS1, and he told us he just never felt like he was the new coach’s guy. Williams said he believed he had won the QB job, but obviously Petersen didn’t see it that way. Williams said he ended up losing his love for the game of football.

Ultimately, he opted to leave and went home to Southern California. He moved back in with his parents and enrolled in junior college. But Williams battled back, determined to play in the Pac-12. He signed with Utah last winter and not long after arriving his teammates were so impressed with him and his leadership they voted him a captain. Williams, by the way, did say that he’s still good friends with many of his old Huskies teammates.

The 6-foot-2, 200-pound junior’s numbers this season have been modest. He has thrown seven TDs against five INTs and also has run for five more touchdowns.

I can’t say I know Williams other than our 20-minute sit-down with him, but this is a good window into who he is: His new coach, Kyle Whittingham, is regarded by his peers as one of the toughest, most competitive people in the coaching world. In fact, Whittingham might be the first name mentioned if you asked other coaches out west who the toughest head coach is. I asked him which of his players most reminded him of himself.

Whittingham said Troy Williams. He  added that “he prepares like no quarterback I’ve ever seen. He’s all business.”

That bodes well for Utah this weekend. Williams will certainly need to get his emotions in check in a hurry. Washington has outscored its opponents 100-7 in the first quarter this season.