We are now a month into the 2022 college football season and though some have become clearer, we are also left with more questions than answers. As WWE Hall of Famer Rowdy Roddy Piper once said, “Right when you think you know the answers, I change the questions” and that is what we have gotten this season. Both teams and players we thought were going to be great haven’t quite lived up to the hype and vice versa. Take a look at Notre Dame. They started as a top-five team and now are unranked.
Then you have Syracuse. Not too much was expected from them, and now they are 4-0 with ACC championship aspirations. The driving force behind this crazy season that is wonderful to see is the amount of talent spread throughout the country.
It is no longer only a few teams with all the talent. It also seems that every week has a candidate for game of the year, which has made every game exciting to watch and something to look forward to. These outcomes have led to a very sporadic stock portfolio with many ups and downs, though it’s still less stressful than the real economy.
So who stood out this week, and who cooled off some? There were so many great performances this week that it is too difficult to narrow it down, so we will be talking more about position groups and fewer individual players.
Dueling Quarterbacks In The ACC
The Clemson and Wake Forest matchup hasn’t been the most exciting game as of late, but this year’s had upset written all over it. Clemson ended up prevailing in overtime, but Wake Forest gave a phenomenal effort that almost got them the win. Though this was a highly anticipated game, it was surprising that the theme of the game turned out to be outstanding quarterback play for both teams. Clemson’s DJ Uiagalelei had a disastrous season last year and it was truly unknown what to expect from him, so to see the performance he had this week is tremendous. He threw for 371 yards and five touchdowns, all without one turnover. It’s like we were watching a totally different person from last year. To cap this incredible performance, he led his team to a huge overtime win. Simply amazing. On the other sideline, there was Sam Hartman, a player who started his season with a health scare and was playing his second game of the year. He had a higher upside coming into this season, but with his delayed start to the season it was still uncertain what we would see. Hartman gave us an equally impressive performance as Uiagalelei and put his team in a position to win. He actually was the more efficient of the two quarterbacks, completing a higher percentage of passes. He passed for 337 yards and six touchdowns, again with no turnovers. In a season that has given us so many classic finishes, this one was special because we saw these two players also get a little bit of redemption for themselves.
Tight End Superstars
It’s not very often that two of the best players in the country are tight ends, but that is exactly what we have this year with Notre Dame’s Michael Meyer and Georgia’s Brock Bowers. Both of these players are elite-level players who can play every aspect of their position and will be high first-round prospects. The tight-end position is one that has evolved immensely over the years and is now a position that can fit all types of athletes. For example, look at the difference between a player like Kyle Pitts and a one like Rob Gronkowski, two completely different body types. That is the variety there is at the position. However, both Meyer and Bowers are do-it-all elite tight ends. They can run, they can catch and they can block, and they do it all very well. This week, Bowers even added a 75-yard rushing touchdown to his stat sheet. When is the last time you heard about a tight end doing that? Meyer led Notre Dame in receiving yards and added a touchdown, but his leadership was really noticeable and also something his team needs so that is great to see. As long as they can continue their momentum throughout the season, they could be the highest pair of tight ends ever drafted.
Heisman Candidate Running Backs?
This week also produced a few dominant running performances and players putting themselves in early Heisman conversations. Blake Corum of Michigan, Mohamed Ibrahim of Minnesota and Deuce Vaughn of Kansas State all had incredible games that were key aspects of their team getting wins. Corum and Vaughn especially had vital performances, because if it wasn’t for them being able to sustain drives both teams probably lose. In a tight game against Maryland Corum rushed for 243 yards and had two touchdowns, continuing with Michigan’s dominating run game. Vaughn had 115 rushing yards and no touchdowns, but his ability to make people miss and keep his offense on the field was huge in that win. Though Ibrahim wasn’t in a close game, it was his sheer dominance that stuck out. It may have been his lowest yards total with 103, but it seemed like Michigan State could not bring him down when needed. For 103 yards being Ibrahim’s lowest performance, it shows you just how spectacular he has been and that he should without a doubt be in the Heisman talks.
Top Tier Pass Rushers
Coming into the season there were three pass rushers who everyone expected to continue their dominating play from last year and that is Alabama’s Will Anderson, Army’s Andre Carter and Notre Dame’s Isaiah Foskey. Anderson doesn’t have the tackle production he did last season, but he’s been a menace for all his opponents and is a pure game wrecker when he’s needed. We just haven’t seen him be the best player in the country like we expected. However, Carter and Foskey are much different cases, not getting off to the start everyone hoped for and do not have the numbers we expected. Foskey was put in tough situations the last two weeks with a dead Notre Dame offense and it has affected the defense greatly because they would be exhausted by the end of games. Hopefully, with the change at quarterback and putting some wins together, Foskey will finally be able to start showing what he’s made of. Carter unfortunately is off to a very underwhelming start. Having only two sacks and 10 total tackles is simply unacceptable. His team has been too, but Carter doesn’t seem to have the same edge to him that he did last season when he finished second in the country in sacks. There is still a long way to go in the season, so it’s imperative for all three of these players to find their 2021 form.
QB Tyler Van Dyke, Miami
Miami has to be one of the most confusing teams to try to figure out this year and Van Dyke is a major reason why. This was a team with extremely high aspirations this season and they looked fantastic the first two weeks against lower-end competition, which is actually where you usually start seeing deficiencies. In those two games, Van Dyke had a 75 percent completion rate and seemed to have command of the offense, not taking big risks. The last two weeks were a completely different story. His completion percentage dropped to 50 and it looked like he lost all confidence. He had no touchdowns against Texas A&M and this week started to make really bad decisions leading to multiple interceptions. His play was so poor that he ended up being benched in the third quarter and his team was upset by Middle Tennessee. There are going to be a lot of tough decisions coming for Miami as they try to figure out their future, but this could very possibly be the last we see of Van Dyke as the starting quarterback for the Hurricanes.