The D-List Week 1: The good, the bad, and the Uiagalelei

The D-List Week 1: The good, the bad, and the Uiagalelei

A look back at the worst of the weekend in college football

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Welcome to the D-List. It’s the Deadspin Dean’s list for the absolute worst of the weekend in college football. The beauty of college football is that we witness raw football talent being molded every week before our very eyes. This is a list for the sloppy sculptures of talent out there, the gridiron underachievers, or the college football figures teams and Heisman contenders who should take a gap year after low-grade performances.

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2 / 7

Iowa’s offensive gets offensive

Iowa’s offensive gets offensive

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Iowa quarterback Spencer Petras won the starting job last week in competition with Alex Padilla. He then proved that he should be nowhere near the starting quarterback position. In Week 1’s 7-3 victory, Petras completed 11-of-25 passes for 109 yards, zero touchdowns, and one interception. Iowa’s seven points weren’t even the offense’s doing.

Did I mention this was against South Dakota State?

After Iowa’s close call, Petras can’t possibly be their starter for next week. In his last 13 games, Petras has only thrown nine touchdowns to seven interceptions. That’s an absurd level of mediocrity. However, benching Petras still won’t be enough.

The Hawkeyes were 99th in scoring offense last season and 121st in total offense. Saturday’s “win” was the latest sign that Kirk Ferentz may have to ax his first-born son, Brian Ferentz, from the staff to keep Iowa from falling into irrelevance in the new Big Ten.

If that’s not bad enough, Brian was also caught up in the racial discrimination lawsuit that ensnared Chris Doyle, whose hiring by the Jacksonville Jaguars last summer kicked off a controversy. Iowa football’s current state should be used as a nepotism repellant. Despite their impotent offense, Iowa went 10-4 last season. The talent gap at Iowa vs. Ohio State or Michigan is vast, but there are no excuses to field a zombie offense against an FCS foe.

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3 / 7

This is where the Heisman Watch ends: Bo Nix

This is where the Heisman Watch ends: Bo Nix

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Back in June, Vegas Insider updated its 2022 Heisman Trophy odds to include Oregon transfer Bo Nix. At +5000 odds, Nix had the 20th best odds in the nation alongside Washington State’s Cam Ward, one of the best FCS quarterbacks in the nation last season, and Hendon Hooker, who was outstanding at Tennessee in 2021. His odds were right behind Ohio State receiver Jaxon Smith-Njigba, the prolific Buckeyes receiver who recorded 95 receptions for 1,600 yards last season while sharing targets with a pair of top-10 picks in the 2022 NFL Draft.

He arrived at Auburn as the next great Bo. Unlike Bo Jackson, this Bo was a 5-star phenom quarterback, who transferred out after a forgettable three years. Nix’s Oregon debut was meant to be the relaunching of the Bo Nix brand. The Bo Nix Heisman meme began repopulating the internet this summer as Oregon was ranked 11th in the country. The Bo Nix redemption tour came hurtling back down to earth again as Nix managed only 173 yards on 37 attempts, two interceptions, including this head-scratcher, and a single scoring drive, Nix wasn’t expected to be a singular force who could (finally) beat UGA, but he couldn’t even get them in the endzone with his arms or legs to make the final score respectable.

He was inefficient, turnover-prone, and his attempts at playmaking were fruitless. Time to pull the plug. This is where Nix’s Heisman odds should come to an end.

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4 / 7

Virginia Tech blemishes the Power 5’s dominance

Virginia Tech blemishes the Power 5’s dominance

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The Group of 5 and Power 5 might as well be two separate divisions. Pretty soon, they may be if the NCAA’s realignment continues. In Week 1, Virginia Tech was the only one of 25 Power 5 teams to lose against their Group of 5 opponent. Against in-state rival Old Dominion, quarterback Grant Wells, a transfer from Marshall, delivered a quartet of interceptions to the Monarchs. To make matters worse, the visiting Hokies locker room was robbed. New head coach Brent Pry has an uphill climb ahead to get Virginia Tech back to respectability.

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5 / 7

Owen Daffer duffs it

Owen Daffer duffs it

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Pat McAfee should host an annual retreat for kicking specialists who have been crushed after missing kicks in big moments. Last week, McAfree waxed philosophically about finally coming to terms with the two missed kicks against Pittsburgh in the ill-fated Backyard Brawl in the final hours of the 2007 regular season that kept West Virginia’s golden class of Steve Slaton, Pat Smith, and Darius Reynaud from advancing to the National Championship Game. As a college football fan from D.C., WVU was our proxy for a mid-Atlantic region college football contender. I remember LeSean McCoy going berserk, rushing for 138 yards, then turning off the television and just sitting there in shock.

East Carolina’s kicker Owen Daffer would be the first fellow invited to the hypothetical McAfee Retreat. In the waning minutes of ECU’s loss to NC State, Daffer shanked an extra point wide to the left. It’s the most automatic point in sports–even more so than the penalty kick or a 90 percent free throw shooter at the line. Daffer made 95 percent of his attempts in 2021 during his true freshman season. But under pressure, kickers have a tendency to morph into Charlie Brown when Lucy is his holder. No matter, Daffer still had an opportunity for redemption after ECU set him up for a much tougher 41-yard game-winner in the final 10 seconds. He didn’t push that one right; he pushed that one right right.

In the grand scheme, ECU’s forecast for the season won’t drastically change like WVU’s was in 2007 or Kyle Brotzman’s missed kick changing the arc of the 2010 season. However, a win over a top-15 team would have been a spark for a solid Group of 5 conference program.

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6 / 7

The good, the bad, and the Uiagalelei

The good, the bad, and the Uiagalelei

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The underwhelming DJ Uiagalelei era is ending. It’s just a matter of when, not if it happens this season. Uiagalelei’s freshman season gave glimpses into his massive talent. Since then he’s been a flop. In 2021, he and the Clemson offense flopped from week to week. In case you were expecting a breakthrough performance, Week 1’s Chick-fil-A Classic Kickoff Game was last season’s refried beans.

Clemson won 41-10, yet all anyone can talk about is his backup Cade Klubnikbut. Uiagalelei’s final tally of 209 yards on 19-for-32 passing is mildly average and his team actually won. However, we saw his warts on primetime as he lost a fumble and nearly lost a snap on third down that bounced off his fingertips and was recovered, but killed the drive.

Ultimately, he earned a QBR ranked 94th in the country out of 126 quarterbacks measured while playing against a sputtering Georgia Tech defense that allowed more points than 110 other programs last season. What’s going to happen against formidable defensive units? Fortunately, college football is a team project because Uiagalelei is not pulling his (trimmed down) weight. Meanwhile, Dabo Swinney kicked the tires on Klubnik late in the fourth. The five-star freshman took the offense out for a joy ride for one drive and the verdict is in. Clemson has a quarterback controversy brewing. This is beginning to feel like last season’s Oklahoma Sooner dynamic between Spencer Rattler and Caleb Williams and we know how that played out.

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