What's been the biggest surprise so far?

What's been the biggest surprise so far?

Sep 12, 2017
  • Mel Kiper Jr.

    CloseFootball analyst
    • Todd McShay

      CloseESPN Senior Writer
      • ESPN College Football and NFL Draft Analyst
      • Joined ESPN in 2006
      • Played quarterback in high school and was a backup QB for the University of Richmond.
    Can Urban Meyer fix what's wrong at Ohio State? Trevor Ruszkowski/USA TODAY Sports

    Who expected Ohio State's struggles or Oklahoma's dominance in Week 2? How about the offensive woes slowing Auburn and Florida? What has been the biggest of all those surprises?

    Even after only two weeks of the college football season, there have been enough surprises for a lively debate. Mel Kiper and Todd McShay tackle those tough topics plus other details from Week 2.

    Biggest surprises of the season so far

    Mel Kiper: Talent doesn't equal immediate success for Ohio State

    Nick Saban makes it look easy every season. Alabama just keeps reloading and competing for national titles. The Buckeyes showed in Saturday's loss to Oklahoma that it's tough to replace guys who leave for the NFL, even when you have big-time recruits ready to step in. I'm not surprised they had their hands full against the Sooners, but I am surprised at how they lost. OU was the much better team on both sides of the ball.

    Three OSU defensive backs were taken in the first round of the draft in April, and Baker Mayfield torched their replacements, racking up 386 yards and three touchdowns. On the other side of the ball, OSU lost its top three receivers from 2016. Its passing attack was painful to watch on Saturday --- J.T. Barrett was just 19-of-35 for 183 yards. The Buckeyes have a lot of young talent, though, enough to figure it out and win the Big Ten.

    Florida can't find an offense

    Coach Jim McElwain is an offensive coach. He had good offenses at Alabama and Colorado State. Why can't he find a quarterback at Florida? Here are the Gators' FBS rankings in yards per game since he took over in 2015: 112th and 116th. There are only 128 teams. Florida had only 192 yards in the loss to Michigan last week, and quarterbacks Feleipe Franks and Malik Zaire didn't play well. Zaire, in fact, had a dreadful 4.6 Total QBR.

    Now, the Wolverines have a good, young defense, and the Gators had a few players suspended -- including receiver Antonio Callaway -- but that's no excuse for looking inept. Makes me wonder how that offense would have looked if Will Grier hadn't left for West Virginia. Florida has talent.

    Todd McShay: Oklahoma's offensive line

    I've been really impressed by this group through two games. Mayfield has been simply awesome this season, especially playing through an injury on Saturday, but outside of Clemson there isn't a better defensive line than Ohio State's -- and the Sooners held their own. They allowed only two sacks on 40 dropbacks against Sam Hubbard & Co. Great communication up front.

    Auburn's offensive issues

    I thought their pass protection scheme was poor on Saturday and they left Jarrett Stidham out to dry. Clemson's defensive line is terrific, but 11 sacks in a game should never happen. There are too many long-developing route concepts in this offense, which doesn't make sense. It is clear Stidham doesn't trust the protection -- and nor should he. I'm worried that the Gus Malzahn-Stidham marriage isn't going to work.

    Michigan QB Wilton Speight's inconsistency

    Speight has the talent, but he has been way too inconsistent this year. He threw two pick-sixes in Week 1 against Florida and missed high on a lot of throws versus Cincinnati on Saturday. I was expecting to see improvement from Speight in Year 2, but I haven't seen it yet. Hopefully he settles in soon, because if not I wonder how long it will be before Jim Harbaugh takes a look at John O'Korn as the starter.


    Prospects on the rise

    Kiper: OT Orlando Brown, Oklahoma

    Here's what I said before Saturday's Oklahoma-Ohio State game:

    The matchup I'm watching in Oklahoma at Ohio State tonight: Massive Sooners LT Orlando Brown vs. OSU DEs Tyquan Lewis, Sam Hubbard and Nick Bosa. Lots of talent there. Can Brown hold up and keep Baker Mayfield clean?

    Mel Kiper Jr., Football analyst

    The answer is an emphatic "yes." Mayfield was sacked only twice in the Sooners' big road win, and Brown was terrific against three future NFL pass-rushers. Brown is nimble for a big man, getting to the second level with ease. He has great feet and can slide easily outside to pick up blitzing linebackers.

    The way he played Saturday night, he could be a top-five pick. Now, he needs to show that same level all season -- but he's going to move into my Big Board this week. The best thing? He's a left tackle all the way. NFL teams won't have to worry about moving him to the right side. He's trending toward the top tackle spot for the 2018 draft.

    McShay: QB Lamar Jackson, Louisville

    Jackson looks bigger and stronger, coming off of a Heisman-winning campaign last season. He seemed much more patient in the pocket on Saturday and displayed more consistent touch and better ball placement. Quite the showing to build on with 393 yards passing and 132 yards rushing. Jackson came into the season as my sixth-ranked QB for the 2018 NFL draft, but he's definitely on the rise.

    QB Daniel Jones, Duke

    Jones is legit. He was awesome during the second half of last season (completed around 64 percent of his throws with nine TDs and just one interception in his final six games), but nobody noticed because Duke was losing. This season, the Blue Devils are off to 2-0 start, including Saturday's 41-17 upset of Northwestern. I look forward to seeing what he can do this season against better ACC competition.


    Almost famous

    Kiper: CB Darius Phillips, Western Michigan

    The Broncos are 0-2, but Phillips has been dynamic. A former receiver who caught 32 passes as a freshman in 2014, Phillips intercepted potential top pick Sam Darnold and returned a kickoff for a touchdown in Week 1. In Week 2 against Michigan State, he had another kickoff return touchdown and interception, and he had a strip-and-score touchdown in the second half.

    Phillips had all of the Broncos' points. At 5-foot-10, 190 pounds, Phillips has decent size, but it's his playmaking that has stood out. He had three pick-sixes last season, too, and in 2015 he had two picks against Ohio State. So he's not just performing well against lower-level competition. Could the senior be a Day 2 pick? Let's see how he fares at the combine. He has been impressive.

    McShay: TE Dallas Goedert, South Dakota State

    One of the highest-rated small-school prospects in this class played a big role in a 31-27 win over Montana State. A redshirt senior, Goedert's coming off a breakout season in which he caught 92 passes for 1,293 yards (14.1 yards per catch) and 11 touchdowns. A fearless route runner, especially working over the middle, he finished with team-best 11 receptions for 132 yards and a score Saturday.

    Source : http://www.espn.com/college-football/story/_/id/20662081/mel-kiper-todd-mcshay-debate-college-football-biggest-surprise-week-2

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