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Debate: Biggest surprise, disappointment in college football

Jameis Winston_130902_Wide

In the first two weeks of the college football season, there have been a handful of impactful games, some surprising results and lots of big individual performances. In terms of players and player developments, what has been the biggest surprise and biggest disappointment so far this season?

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  • Daniel Jeremiah
  • Winston's rise, USC's decline stand out

The biggest surprise so far has been the impressive play at the top of the ACC. Clemson and Miami already have produced marquee wins over SEC powers (Georgia, Florida) and Florida State looks to have found a star at quarterback in Jameis Winston. The biggest disappointment is the USC offense. The Trojans have two big-time receivers, a pair of talented tight ends and a solid stable of running backs, yet they only managed to score seven points against Washington State in Week 2. The combination of quarterback play and play-calling has been atrocious.

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  • Bucky Brooks
  • Clowney, Lee not living up to hype

I believe the play of Miami's Duke Johnson has been one of the biggest surprises. He has continued to build off the momentum created at the end of last season, while carrying the Hurricanes to a surprising 2-0 start. Although he didn't finish with a 100-yard day against the Gators in Week 2, Johnson's emergence as one of college football's top runners has given the Hurricanes' offense an added dimension. As far as disappointments, I believe South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney and USC's Marqise Lee have failed to live up to the offseason hype. While opponents have made it a point to neutralize their impact, each player has failed to flash the immense talent and potential that made them the buzz of the college football world. Of course, it's not too late for each player to rev it up this season, but based on the preseason hype surrounding their respective games, the production falls well below expectations.

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  • Charles Davis
  • Mack is a stud ... is Thomas one, too?

This is not a surprise because we've been tracking him for a bit, but Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack confirmed what we thought of him heading into the season -- he can play, and against anyone. If you don't believe me, get the Ohio State film from Week 1 and watch it. The No. 2 team in the country, with an offensive line that returned four starters from last year's undefeated squad, struggled mightily to block him. Mack made big plays, including 2.5 sacks and a 45-yard interception return for a touchdown. He may play in the MAC, but he can play ... anywhere. As for the biggest disappointment, look to the ACC. Virginia Tech QB Logan Thomas began last year as a player to watch. He has tremendous size at about 6-foot-6, 254 pounds with a live arm, and can hoof it with agility and power. Well, the 2012 season did not play out as expected as the Hokies' offense struggled, and so did young Mr. Thomas. His decision making was questionable, he threw too many interceptions, and his fundamentals slipped. But, even after an offseason of intense work, the season opener against Alabama left many of us with the same questions, and possibly new ones about him. He looks the part, and all the measurables are there, but will we see the QB we saw in 2010 again? If so, that QB is coveted.

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  • Chase Goodbread NFL Draft 365
  • Davis and Moncrief off to very different starts

South Carolina RB Mike Davis has arrived, and Ole Miss WR Donte Moncrief has been missing. Two weeks into the season, those are the names that stand out most -- for better or worse -- in Southeastern Conference play. In his first year as a starter, Davis (5-9, 215) has rushed for more than 100 yards against two legitimate opponents -- North Carolina and Georgia -- to rank 12th in the NCAA with 264 yards. Meanwhile, Ole Miss can't seem to find its star receiver very much. After being well-defended by Vandy star cornerback Andre Hal in the season opener and making only two catches in a win over non-conference cupcake Southeast Missouri State on Saturday, Moncrief ranks just fourth on his own team in receptions with seven. Expect his breakout game to come soon.

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  • Mike Huguenin NFL Draft 365
  • Lee scuffles while Scheelhaase stuns

It's not really his fault because USC's quarterback situation is a mess and the offense as a whole is a disaster, but Trojans WR Marqise Lee has been extremely quiet. He has 15 catches, but for only 131 yards (8.7 yards per catch), zero TDs and no big plays. The biggest surprise has been Illinois senior QB Nathan Scheelhaase (6-3, 205), who could be playing himself into a third-day draft selection. He always was a good athlete but now seems to finally understand how to play quarterback. He threw 17 TD passes combined the past two seasons; he already has six this season, to go with 728 yards and a completion percentage of 74. He has thrown for 300 yards in each of the first two games, only the second and third 300-yard days of his career.

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  • Dan Greenspan NFL Draft 365
  • Poor QB play from traditional powers is head-scratcher

USC does not have a quarterback. Florida is again reduced to making its quarterback a game manager and hoping its rushing offense and stellar defense can drag the team into the win column. Texas and Notre Dame don't have elite quarterbacks worthy of their respective pedigrees, while Oklahoma looked to be scrambling for a consistent passing attack even before Trevor Knight hurt his knee. When California and Texas Tech can throw true freshmen into the starting lineup on opening day and see them atop the FBS rankings for total offense, there is no excuse for the blue bloods of the game not to have the talent and/or scheme to deliver consistent top-level quarterback play. However, the plug-and-play success on offense for Northwestern and Baylor is among the most pleasant surprises in college football through the first two weeks of the season. Both the Wildcats and Bears are well positioned to challenge for their conference championships. It has also been great to see Colorado wide receiver Paul Richardson (posted consecutive games with 200 yards receiving) and USC outside linebacker Devon Kennard (three tackles for loss, two sacks, one fumble recovery) bounce back from injury to thrive in systems that suit their immense talents.

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