We've hit the lull of the college football offseason, which gives plenty of opportunity to talk about what's to come. It also means plenty of opportunity for expectations to be raised, with optimism for 2019 reigning across the country during the heat of the summer months. But inevitably, come fall, some teams will fall short after all that buildup. For this week's roundtable, we asked our writers to consider those expectations and which programs might struggle to meet them.
Which team near the front of many people's offseason hype trains are you feeling uneasy about this season?
Scooby Axson: For all the constant talk about how Texas is back, especially after winning 10 games for the first time this decade (there are many that have picked the Longhorns to make some national championship noise), the lack of depth—especially on the defensive end—has to have Tom Herman concerned. Breaking in eight starters on that side of the ball, plus having no real contingency plan if quarterback Sam Ehlinger gets hurt, might have Texas looking up at Oklahoma once again.
Laken Litman: Texas A&M exceeded expectations in Jimbo Fisher’s first year, winning nine games, beating LSU in seven overtimes and finishing second in the SEC West. As Fisher enters Year 2, he has to be feeling confident with veteran quarterback Kellen Mond, having a handful of proven receivers, rising sophomore Jashaun Corbin coming into replace reigning SEC rushing leader Trayveon Williams, and Mike Elko’s defense shaping up to reload after losing its top six tacklers. But there’s reason for skepticism in 2019. How will this group handle one of the nation’s toughest schedules, potentially facing five top-10 opponents? The Aggies may have nearly beaten Clemson at home last year, but this time they travel to Death Valley and face the defending national champs led by the now seasoned QB Trevor Lawrence. That game is followed by a trip through the SEC West gauntlet, and eventually, a date with Georgia in late November.
Joan Niesen: I have to go with Michigan here. Yes, I got the memo about the Wolverines’ spring game and the skill players who excelled, and I know such performances have been few and far between—whether in real games or scrimmages—during Jim Harbaugh’s tenure. Josh Gattis was an impressive hire at offensive coordinator, but last we saw of Michigan, it was getting pummeled by Florida in the Peach Bowl, and in an always-tough Big Ten, it might take more than one offseason for Gattis’s changes to take root. That’s not to say the Wolverines won’t have a strong grasp on the top 25 this fall—they’re also the beneficiaries of a doable early-season schedule—but rather to remind everyone that this team has been a years-long work-in-progress.
Ross Dellenger: Texas. This is a product of the hype and the hype alone, because I do think the Longhorns are contenders, and I like Sam Ehlinger at QB, but the "Texas is back" talk is so overpowering that the Horns can't possibly meet the expectations. Any team that must replace eight defensive senior starters will have some early-season growing pains, and that's not mentioning a pass defense that ranked 110th nationally last season. The Horns feel like a solid top-20 team, but these CFP projections are shooting awfully high.