His coach didn’t think the I’ll-show-them attitude displayed all week by Utah quarterback Troy Williams had any effect on the way he played during Washington’s 31-24 victory over the Utes on Saturday afternoon.
Still, this probably wasn’t the performance for which Williams had hoped.
The ex-UW quarterback did lead Utah on a game-tying touchdown drive in the fourth quarter, and had the Utes in decent position to tie the game in the final minute, too. But Williams’ final stat line— 14-for-31 passing for 163 yards and two touchdowns — will do little to make Huskies coaches wish he had stayed at Washington instead of transferring following the 2014 season.
Williams spent the week discussing his messy departure from UW, a decision he made because he felt UW coach Chris Petersen didn’t want him. After spending last season at Santa Monica College, Williams transferred to Utah and easily won the Utes’ starting quarterback job.
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It was no secret that he badly wanted to beat the Huskies as an act of vengeance.
“He was amped up,” Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said, “but I don’t think it was to the point of it affecting his play. At least I didn’t sense that. He wasn’t playing outside the framework of the offense.”
It was a rough start for the Los Angeles native. Williams threw three incompletions on Utah’s first possession, all three of which were touched by UW defenders. One was nearly intercepted by UW safety Budda Baker, who likely would have returned it for a touchdown.
Williams completed two of his first 11 pass attempts for 12 yards, but settled down some in the second half. He threw a 24-yard touchdown pass to tight end Evan Moeai to tie the score 24-24 with 9:07 to play, and completed a thrd-and-11 pass to receiver Tim Patrick for a 20-yard gain on Utah’s final possession.
But facing fourth-and-15 from UW’s 35-yard line, Williams’ final pass sailed over the heads of his receivers and out of the end zone.
“We were one play short,” Williams said afterward. “We are all blessed to be in this situation, win or lose. I’m just happy to be out there against my brothers on both sides of the ball.”
One of Williams’ best friends, UW linebacker Keishawn Bierria, sacked him on the play before Williams’ fourth-down pass.
Afterward, Bierria said, “I just told him I love him. We’ve got a different relationship, so that’s all I needed to say.”
Bierria, a teammate of Williams’ at Narbonne High School, said it “meant a lot” to sack him, because “I haven’t got to sack him in a few years, since (the last time) we played against each other. He played really hard tonight.”
It got chippy at times, too. UW linebacker Azeem Victor was penalized for taunting Williams after the Huskies stuffed him on a third-and-goal play from the 1-yard line, a penalty that allowed Utah to score its first touchdown two plays later.
“That was not good,” Petersen said. “Disappointing. I thought we’d have a little more poise than that.”
Williams figures he’ll get another chance against the Huskies.
“It was great and nothing personal, just business,” Williams said. “It wasn’t fit for me to be there at the end of the day, and they’re my brothers for life, just like these (Utah players) sitting here. It was great to see them after the game, and I want them to continue to win out. We’ll see them again.”