Jake Locker (Washington): Locker’s tools make the Viper salivate, but he’s accomplished nothing with them. The Husky quarterback has made no second-year leap under Steve Sarkisian. He completes just 56 percent of his passes. He’s not in the top 50 in passing efficiency. He does not raise the subpar talent around him. Locker’s one good Pac 10 performance was against Oregon State, 94th in total pass defense. He may be battling injuries but he wasn’t effective before them. Against the best defense he’s faced, Nebraska, he was 4/20 for 71 yards and threw two interceptions.
Evan Royster (Penn State): Royster was supposed to be an elite running back. Not so much. Desperate for more explosion, the Nittany Lions have siphoned his carries, more than eleven only four times. His resurgence against Michigan and Northwestern boosted his aggregate numbers. In three games against Ohio State where PSU has made concerted efforts to run the ball, he has averaged 3.4 yards per carry, 2.9 in the past two games. A “fringe first-round prospect” last summer, he’s now a fringe draft prospect.
Jerrod Johnson (Texas A&M): A physically impressive senior, Johnson was the consensus best quarterback in the Big 12 heading into the season. Now, he’s not even the best on his own team. His erratic four-interception performance cost A&M a win against Oklahoma State. Another nearly cost them a win at home to Florida International. Since Ryan Tannehill replaced Johnson, the Aggies are 4-0, including wins over Oklahoma and Baylor. Their average victory margin without him is 20 pts. Texas A&M is 7-3. Without Johnson, they could be 9-1.
Dion Lewis (Pittsburgh): Lewis had 1,799 yards as a freshman. As a sophormore, he was the nation’s leading returning runner and a Heisman candidate. He never found his way this year. He has only 556 yards through eight games. He had 79 yards or more in each 2009 game. In 2010, he’s done it once. Last year, he had seven carries of 30 yards or longer. This year he has one, for 30 yards. Pitt’s offensive line is not as good, but that hasn’t stopped his teammate Ray Graham from splitting his carries and averaging 2.3 yards per rush more.
Terrelle Pryor (Ohio State): Pryor’s aggregate numbers are solid, but Ohio State has played the 85th ranked Sagarin schedule. He does not handle pressure. Against the two reputable defenses he’s faced, Miami and Wisconsin, he has completed less than 50 percent of his passes. Pryor has the surroundings to be great (a formidable offensive line and talent at skill positions) but he’s merely been pretty good and only against overmatched opposition. Whenever the Buckeyes have needed a spark to rouse them, it has been someone else.
[Photo via Getty]