Every college football season brings certain expectations for big-time programs. New recruits, promising transfers and flashy coaching hires excite fan bases -- and sometimes those expectations hit. We knew the 2021 Georgia Bulldogs' defense had a chance to be legendary. It was, and it led the team to a national championship. We also expected this season's Ohio State Buckeyes to be great offensively and the Michigan Wolverines to be dominant in the run game.
But some teams do fall well short of expectations, leaving us wondering why much-hyped units can't get it done with stars at multiple positions and once-intriguing schemes in place. Which early disappointments stand out this season in college football? We zeroed in on four struggling units. What is broken for each of the four -- e.g., Oklahoma's lackluster defense -- and how it can be fixed? Plus, what are the 2023 NFL draft implications for each unit's struggles?
Miami Hurricanes' offense
What's broken? The Hurricanes hired away coach Mario Cristobal from Oregon with the idea he would bring a tough, innovative offense after shaping quarterback Justin Herbert and offensive tackle Penei Sewell into top-10 draft picks for the Ducks. That hasn't happened yet, as Miami is averaging 32.8 points per game, 46th best in the nation. And while the Hurricanes are putting together 466.6 yards per game (22nd), it isn't translating to points on the field -- or wins for the 2-3 squad. (It's worth noting that those numbers are pushed up by a 70-point showing in Week 1 against Bethune-Cookman, too.)
The offensive struggles weren't expected but are logical since Cristobal has implemented a complete change to the Miami offensive scheme. His players are learning a completely new offense under a new coaching staff. It takes time, but the results have been worrisome. The rush game has averaged only 4.0 yards per carry, and the offense as a whole has just 20 plays that have gone for 20-plus yards (tied for 108th in the country).
Can it be fixed? The issues in Miami are certainly fixable, but it's likely a 2023 solve rather than an immediate one. Left tackle Zion Nelson has missed time due to injury and has struggled when he's on the field. That's obviously hurting the Miami offensive line and putting quarterback Tyler Van Dyke under pressure.
This new scheme has also asked Van Dyke to do more classic pocket play, which is hard with a bad offensive line. Simply put, Miami has a talent problem up front. Cristobal cut his teeth as an offensive line coach, and he needs to build a wall there. Miami does have freshman tackles Matthew McCoy and Anez Cooper, who will be key players as the Hurricanes retool the line. Recruits Francis Mauigoa, Antonio Tripp and Connor Lew are also projected to join the team in 2023.
Who is the draft prospect most affected? Tyler Van Dyke, QB. He had some first-round buzz heading into the season, but that has largely quieted after a tough start, and Van Dyke was even benched in Week 5 against Middle Tennessee after throwing two interceptions. The 6-foot-4 sophomore had a nice bounce-back game in the Week 6 loss to North Carolina, but talk of Cristobal's offense propelling Van Dyke's stock has quieted. Right now the focus for the QB is just on keeping the starting job.