The Sports Report: Caleb Williams vows to improve

LOS ANGELES, CALIF. - OCT. 1, 2022. USC quarterback Caleb Williams walks off the field.
USC quarterback Caleb Williams.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Howdy, I’m your host, Houston Mitchell. Let’s get right to the news.

From Ryan Kartje: Three weeks into his debut season at USC, Caleb Williams seemed well on his way to soaring past even the highest of expectations set upon his high-profile arrival. The sophomore quarterback was completing better than 74% of his passes and averaging better than 10 yards per attempt. He dominated down the field and stunned with his escapability, looking every bit the part of a preseason Heisman favorite.

Three weeks later, at the midway point of USC’s season, the reviews aren’t quite as glowing. The most critical came this week from the quarterback himself.

“I’ve played all right,” Williams said when asked to assess his performance through six games. “I feel like I could play a lot better. I don’t feel like I’ve unlocked everything that I can do and my ability. Trying to get to that point because this team needs my best throughout this last stretch of the season.”

Williams ran wild two Saturdays ago in USC’s win over Arizona State, but that 348-yard, three-touchdown explosion was sandwiched between two less-than-stellar showings. His completion rate has fallen 18% during the last three weeks compared to the three weeks before, while his yards per attempt has tumbled by more than three yards. It’s no coincidence USC has averaged three fewer touchdowns per game during that stretch.


Lincoln Riley acknowledged the quarterback’s play needs to improve, but also noted that Williams, with 13 starts under his belt, was “just hitting the point where he’s started a full season of college football.”

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From Jack Harris: Entering this week’s National League Division Series, the Dodgers knew they’d have to stomach one game with an imperfect pitching plan, that Tony Gonsolin’s reduced workload following a late-season forearm strain would force them to resort to one de facto bullpen game.

With the series tied 1-1 and shifting south to Petco Park this weekend, the Dodgers decided Friday was the time to get it out of the way.

Gonsolin will start a pivotal Game 3 in the best-of-five series, manager Dave Roberts announced Wednesday night and confirmed during a video call with reporters Thursday, but exactly how long he will go, and how the rest of the staff will line up behind him, remains unclear.

“I see it as a collection of arms,” Roberts said. “Obviously less is more, but if we have to use six arms tomorrow, we’ll do that.”

The move is something of a gamble for the Dodgers, who will save left-handed All-Star Tyler Anderson for a start in Game 4 on Saturday.

The Padres will counter in Game 3 with left-hander Blake Snell, who wasn’t all that efficient against the Dodgers this year but did limit them to just six runs over 14 innings in three starts, giving San Diego perhaps its first pitching advantage of the series.



Shaikin: Dodgers at some point must figure out what to do with Cody Bellinger

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What happened to the goose that stole all the attention at Dodgers playoff game?


From Ben Bolch: Caleb Wilson sees one way to improve UCLA’s undefeated football team.

The former Bruins tight end tweeted this week that the team could use a name, image and likeness collective to lure top recruits and compete with other programs lavishing riches upon their players.

“Cause honestly,” Wilson wrote, “other schools are willing to pay.”

Wilson’s tweet came on the same day that UCLA’s highest-rated recruit, four-star running back Roderick Robinson II, flipped his nonbinding oral commitment from the Bruins to Georgia. Robinson did not mention NIL when asked about his change of plans, telling that he liked the way he would fit in with the Bulldogs’ physical style, among other factors.

But Wilson expressed concern that his beloved team was putting itself at a disadvantage without a robust NIL collective that could compete with those at other schools. Across town, USC boosters recently unveiled plans to try and pay every football player $50,000 per year through the collective Student Body Right.


Patricia Ann Meyers, matriarch of one of SoCal’s most prolific sports families, dies


From Gary Klein: A Rams offense struggling to score touchdowns is not exactly rolling into Sunday’s game against the Carolina Panthers with positive developments.

Star receiver Cooper Kupp is dealing with a foot injury. Running back Cam Akers, who coach Sean McVay requested more urgency from earlier this season, was absent from practice Thursday because of what was listed as personal reasons. And the injury-ravaged offensive line is trying to figure out how to protect quarterback Matthew Stafford and jump-start a league-worst rushing attack.

“Everyone here knows that we’ve got the right people that want to right the ship, want to go out there and win,” said Kupp, who was limited Thursday but is expected to play against the Panthers. “So, the preparation and process is going to be there.


NFL: Muffed punt, Brian Robinson TD lift Commanders over Bears


Brandon Tanev scored the go-ahead goal early in the second period and the Seattle Kraken rebounded from an opening loss to beat the Kings 4-1 on Thursday night.

Jaden Schwartz, Alex Wennberg and Adam Larsson also scored for the Kraken and Martin Jones made 28 saves.

Alex Iafallo had Los Angeles’ lone goal and Jonathan Quick stopped 18 shots. The Kings have dropped their first two games.


1945 — The Chicago Cardinals snap the longest losing streak in NFL history at 29 games with a 16-7 victory over the Chicago Bears.

1951 — Detroit’s Jack Christiansen returns two punts for touchdowns, but the Lions still lose, 27-21, to the Rams.

1962 — Houston’s George Blanda throws six touchdown passes to lead the Oilers to a 56-17 rout of the New York Titans.

1967 — The Kings, led by Brain Kilrea, beat the Philadelphia Flyers 4-2 in their NHL debut. The game is held at Long Beach Arena. Kilrea scores two goals, including the first one in Kings history.

1978 — Darryl Sittler of the Toronto Maple Leafs gets seven assists in a 10-7 victory over the New York Islanders.

1979 — Edmonton’s Wayne Gretzky scores his first NHL goal in a 4-4 tie with the Vancouver Canucks. Gretzky beats goaltender Glen Hanlon with the game-tying power-play goal with 1:09 remaining in the third period.

1990 — Joe Montana passes for career highs of 476 yards and six touchdowns and Jerry Rice ties an NFL record with five scoring receptions as the San Francisco 49ers beat the Atlanta Falcons 45-35.

1991 — New York Rangers right wing Mike Gartner scores his 500th goal in the first period of a 5-3 loss to the Washington Capitals.

2005 — Ryan Newman sets a NASCAR record by winning his fifth consecutive Busch Series race, the Charlotte 300 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway.

2006 — Mats Sundin scores his 500th goal, completing a hat trick with a short-handed overtime game-winner and giving Toronto a 5-4 victory over Calgary. The third goal is Sundin’s 15th in overtime — the most in NHL history.

2007 — Tom Brady of New England passes for 388 yards and a career-high five touchdowns in a 48-27 win over previously unbeaten Dallas. The five TDs gives Brady the NFL mark with at least three in each of the first six games of the season.

2011 — Japan’s Kohei Uchimura becomes the first man to win three titles at the world gymnastics championships in Tokyo. Uchimura finishes with 93.631 points in the men’s all-around, more than three points ahead of Germany’s Philipp Boy.

2012 — Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers sets a career high and ties a franchise record with six touchdown passes, three to Jordy Nelson, and the Packers rout the Houston Texans 42-24. Rodgers completes 24 of 37 passes for 338 yards and ties Matt Flynn’s single-game record for TD passes, set in last year’s regular-season finale against Detroit.

2015 — Sylvia Fowles has 20 points and 11 rebounds as the Minnesota Lynx capture their third WNBA title in five years with a 69-52 victory over the Indiana Fever in Game 5.

2018 — Stephen Gostkowski hit a 28-yard field goal as time expires, and the New England Patriots beat the Kansas City Chiefs 43-40 after blowing a big halftime lead. Tom Brady passes for 340 yards and a touchdown and runs for another score in his 200th victory as a starting quarterback, tops in NFL history. With New England leading 24-9 at halftime, Patrick Mahomes directs an impressive rally by Kansas City in the second half. He finishes 23 of 36 for 352 yards in his first loss as a starting quarterback, with three of his four TD passes going to Tyreek Hill.

2020 — The NFL cancels the Pro Bowl scheduled for January, 31, 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Compiled by the Associated Press

And finally

A look at the Kings’ first game. Watch and listen here.

Until next time...

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