Monday, January 30, 2023

Pick Six: Disappointments

by Ralph D. Russo
| November 17, 2010 8:00 PM

Sometimes calling a team a disappointment can be an unfair. Disappointing by whose standards? Some Alabama fans are pretty disappointed right about now but their team only has two losses.

Still, every season has its teams that just don't meet expectations. Here are six, one from each BCS automatic-qualifying conference. North Carolina is not included because calling what's gone on at Chapel Hill a disappointment wouldn't be sufficient.

TEXAS (4-6). The Longhorns are victims of their own success to a certain extent. Even though they had to replace Colt McCoy, Jordan Shipley and some standouts on defense, everybody figured coach Mack Brown would simply plug in the next wave of stars and contend for another Big 12 title. Texas started the season ranked No. 5 in the country. But the switch from a pass-heavy, spread offense to emphasizing a power running game flopped, which put more pressure on first-year starting quarterback Garrett Gilbert, who showed he wasn't ready to carry an offense. Especially one lacking a star receiver or running back. And all the offensive problems have worn out a defense that is talented if not especially tough. Texas is looking at its first losing season since 1997 and its first under Brown.

FLORIDA (6-4). The Gators started the season No. 4, in a similar to position to Texas, having to replace a lot of talent but seemingly well equipped to do so in the Southeastern Conference. Then again, maybe not. The Gators have been a mess offensively. First-year starting quarterback John Brantley is a poor fit for the scheme and Gators fans will tell you coordinator Steve Addazio is a poor fit as a play-caller. Add to that a defense that has been soft in the middle and Florida has been incapable of beating a high-quality opponent. For the first time in a while, coach Urban Meyer's genius has been questioned.

PITTSBURGH (5-4). The Panthers are still the front-runners in the Big East so a BCS bid could be in their future. Or they could finish below .500. Pitt started the season ranked 15th in the nation, a team dotted with stars but short on seniors and breaking in a new quarterback. Notice a trend developing? Tino Sunseri has been a slow-developing work in progress at quarterback, and star running back Dion Lewis hasn't been the same following a sensational freshman season. Plus, the Panthers have also had to deal with some buzzard's luck. Star defensive end Greg Romeus has played two games, missing time first for back surgery, then with a season-ending knee injury.

CLEMSON (5-5). The Tigers can't blame their lackluster season on a new quarterback. Kyle Parker put off his baseball career to return for one more season in Death Valley. Hopefully, for Parker's sake, he hasn't lost his power stroke, because his senior season on the gridiron has been a dud. He's ninth in the Atlantic Coast Conference in passer efficiency rating. Not to put all the blame on him. Clemson's receivers have been unreliable and the running game spotty. There are some good individual players here and there, defensive end Da'Quan Bowers is a potential All-American and safety DeAndre McDaniel has an NFL future, but they haven't added up to a good team.

PENN STATE (6-4). The Big Ten doesn't have any team that's been particularly disappointing, but the Nittany Lions are the closest to fitting the profile. They were ranked 19th in the preseason, probably too high considering Joe Paterno sustained heavy losses in the front seven on defense and had no clue who would be playing quarterback (that again?). Freshman Robert Bolden won the starting quarterback job, which was a good-news-bad-news situation: promising for the future but not necessarily for the present. The injuries stacked up like firewood in the winter around Happy Valley and Penn State was never a factor in the Big Ten race.

WASHINGTON (3-6). The return of Jake Locker for his senior season had Huskies fans thinking coach Steve Sarkisian's second season would mark Washington's return to Pac-10 contention. Well, Locker's Heisman campaign has gone about as well as Fred Thompson's presidential run. With no running game and a shaky offensive line, Locker doesn't look as if he has made much progress as a passer. And he got hurt. The biggest problems have come on defense. The Huskies' defensive line gets blown off the ball and the secondary has regressed.

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