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Three-Point Stance: Surprises, disappointments and craziness

Rivals National Columnist Mike Farrell is here with the five most disappointing players so far this season, five position units surprisingly dominating and five things you would have never believed 10 years ago.


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1. Five players with disappointing seasons so far

Graham Mertz
Graham Mertz (AP Images)

I looked at disappointing teams on Tuesday but now it’s time to name names. Here are five players having disappointing seasons.

QB Graham Mertz, Wisconsin

The former Rivals100 QB was supposed to usher in a new era of quarterback play for the Badgers, but after a hot start against Illinois last season he regressed. And this season he has looked simply awful. Through three games he has thrown more touchdowns to the other team than to his own, and has only one TD pass vs. six INTs. He simply looks lost. While he's not the only reason the Badgers offense is struggling (the offensive line has not looked remotely like the units we've come to know), he's going to shoulder the most blame because of the position he plays and just how poor his decision making has been. It would surprise me if he isn't benched sooner rather than later, just to get a spark.


QB DJ Uiagalelei, Clemson

While we knew that there was going to be at least some sort of drop-off from Trevor Lawrence to Uiagalelei, few expected the former five-star recruit to struggle this much. This is especially true after he looked strong in his handful of appearances last season when he stepped in for Lawrence. Like Mertz, he looks lost and like he is overthinking every throw. His offensive line has done him no favors, but his stats bear out a QB that is struggling - completing only 56% of his throws for less than 200 yards per game with only three TDs and three INTs in four games. Will we see more of Taisun Phommachanh soon?


RB Eric Gray, Oklahoma

When Gray chose to transfer to Oklahoma out of Tennessee a lot of people (including myself) thought that he would thrive in Lincoln Riley's wide-open offense and keep the run game strong. But Gray's struggles are a microcosm of the larger issues facing that offense in general, and the former four-star prospect has not been able to get going at all, rushing for only 223 yards and zero TDs on the season.


QB Kedon Slovis, USC

The Trojans QB has seen a precipitous falloff in his stats this season and his struggles have mirrored those of the team in general. His completion percentage is down more than five points off of his career average heading into the year, and his yards per attempt and air yards per attempt are also down significantly. He also has an equal amount of TDs and INTs (four of each) so far this season. And even without Bru McCoy he still has plenty of weapons at his disposal, including Drake London, who leads the country in receiving - but it doesn’t seem to matter.


CB Derek Stingley Jr., LSU

Stingley came into the season as the consensus No. 1 corner in the country, but his play this season has taken a big step down in comparison to the two years prior. Through four games, he has his worst PFF grade (66.6), and is allowing career highs in reception percentage against (60%), yards per reception (15.7) and has yet to have an interception or pass breakup. He especially struggled against UCLA and he will be someone to watch moving forward as the Tigers get into their SEC schedule. That’s if he plays. He was in a walking boot last week.


2. Five surprisingly good positional units

Michigan RB Blake Corum (2)
Michigan RB Blake Corum (2) (AP Images)

Did you know how good the Florida offensive line was supposed to be this season? Not very good. However, the unit has been off the charts and even pushed Alabama around. Here are five positional units that have been amazing surprises.

Florida offensive line

When the Gators lost Kyle Trask, Kyle Pitts and Kadarius Toney most people figured that the team would take a big step back, but behind a very solid offensive line Florida still has a top 10 program in the country. The Gators' 7.48 yards per play ranks seventh in the country, and they have only given up three sacks in four games, good for sixth in the country. But the most telling statistic is the fact that they rank No. 1 in the nation with 7.46 yards per attempt. Dan Mullen continues to prove that he is an elite offensive mind and he has the Gators playing at a very high level yet again, and they are dominating the trenches while being led by Kingsley Eguakun.


Syracuse defensive line

When was the last time we talked about Syracuse being this good? The Orange are off to a 3-1 start in a make-or-break season for Dino Babers, and the strength of the team has been the defense led by its line. The Orange are 10th in the country in total defense (only allowing 261 yards per game), and are second in the nation with 18 total sacks, led by end Cody Roscoe, who has 5.5 sacks. But what's most impressive is that they have 11 different players who have registered at least half a sack.


Michigan running backs

With Jim Harbaugh on the warmish seat yet again there were expectations that he would need to change something offensively. Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Josh Gattis have crafted a fantastically effective running game behind Blake Corum and Hassan Haskins, who have combined for 797 yards in four games. As a team, the Wolverines rank fifth in the country in total rushing, sixth in yards per carry and first in rushing touchdowns.


Arkansas defensive backs

Nearly every unit on this Razorbacks team could be up for consideration, but I want to give some love to the defensive backs, who have put up a no-fly zone on defense. They are fourth in the country in opposing passing efficiency and have allowed only one passing touchdown to date. They're eighth in the country in passing yards allowed and second in yards per attempt allowed. An all-around great unit.


Baylor running backs

I'm not sure if anyone was predicting the Baylor renaissance before this season, but it's happening right before our eyes, and a lot of it has to do with the running game that has been established in Waco. Abram Smith and Trestan Ebner are both averaging more than 7 yards per carry, and as a team they're sixth in the country in rushing yards per game at 272. Ebner has also been a special teams monster, averaging more than 30 yards per return and he took one to the house against Iowa State this past weekend that was a backbreaker for the Cyclones.


3. Crazy times in 2021

Florida State receiver Keyshawn Helton (6)
Florida State receiver Keyshawn Helton (6) (AP Images)

OK, let’s pretend it’s the year 2011. Auburn is coming off a national title, Oregon has the most exciting offense in college football and many of the perennial powers are coming off good seasons. Now tell yourself in 2011 that the following would be true in 2021. You’d tell yourself that you’re crazy.

Florida State is the only winless team in the ACC — Back then the ‘Noles were a consistent power and a 10-win season was common as they headed towards a national title in 2013. Can you imagine thinking they would reach depths like this? It almost seems impossible.


UConn is the worst team in college football — Few people care about UConn football but 10 years ago the Huskies were in the Fiesta Bowl against Oklahoma as a BCS bowl rep. Now they might not win a game this season.


Nebraska is the worst team in the Big Ten — This can’t be disputed, as only Illinois has a worse record, yet the Illini beat the Huskers in the season opener. Ten years ago the Huskers were battling for Big 12 titles and winning 10 games a season under Bo Pellini, who was apparently not good enough for the program and too obtuse.


Penn State would be undefeated and a top 10 program — It started in 2011 with the Jerry Sandusky story breaking and NCAA sanctions to follow as the Joe Paterno era ended in shame. Many thought it could be a death sentence for the program and it would take more than a decade to return to any semblance of contention. I was among those doubters. And here we are. This team won a Big Ten title in 2016 and is as strong as ever.


Brian Kelly is the winningest coach ever at Notre Dame Kelly was an interesting hire from Cincinnati, to say the least, and he started his ND career with two 8-5 seasons. There’s no way you’d think he’d have more wins than Lou Holtz or Knute Rockne a decade later.