Team unit breakdown for Week 11
Which groups of running backs and receivers can you trust this week? Chris Bennett has some options for you in his latest team unit analysis.
It's essentially required at this point to mention Buffalo's Branden Oliver , who on his first of three consecutive Tuesday night appearances ran 34 times for 249 yards and two touchdowns against Ohio. The Bobcats defense was the "best" he'll face in this three-week stretch. Start the Bulls running back next Tuesday against Toledo!
Boston College (at New Mexico State): The Eagles have averaged 202.4 yards on the ground over their last five games, which includes a paltry 94 against Clemson and an impressive 196 against a stout Virginia Tech front. Andre Williams continues his breakout campaign this weekend with a trip west to face an Aggies rush defense that allows 6.9 yards per carry and a nation-high 312.1 yards per game. If you need any further reason to start this unit, know that quarterback Chase Rettig has thrown for just 150 combined yards the last two weeks. Williams may even let backup Myles Willis get in on the act in Week 11.
Minnesota (vs. Penn State): Somewhat quietly, the Golden Gophers rushing attack is churning out yardage, to the tune of 221.1 yards a game, good for 20th nationally. Sophomore David Cobb has emerged as a true feature back and has seen 60 carries over the last two weeks. The Gophers are using a two-quarterback system, and it's paying dividends in both facets of the game. They'll host a Nittany Lions defense that has been a bit Jekyll-and-Hyde. Overall, Penn State allows 150.1 rushing yards a game but has held four opponents to less than 91 yards. The defense also been gashed for 408 yards by Ohio State and 219 by UCF. Minnesota is a surprising 7-2 this year and will look to keep things rolling on the ground in Week 11.
Utah State (at UNLV): The loss of dual-threat quarterback Chuckie Keeton more than a month ago has turned these Aggies into more of a traditional offense; quarterback Darell Garretson passes, and running backs Joey DeMartino and Robert Marshall run. Garretson broke out for a 370-yard performance last week against Hawaii but had just 260 yards total in the previous two contests. That's because DeMartino and company were churning out yardage. The Aggies posted a season-high 337 yards on the ground in Week 9 against a bad New Mexico defense, and Week 11's opponent, UNLV, is equally inept against the run. Allowing 244.7 yards a game, the Rebels don't appear to be a speed bump for this ground attack.
Western Kentucky (at Army): Hilltoppers running back Antonio Andrews doesn't get as much national recognition as he deserves. He's rushed 202 times this season for 1,290 yards and 11 scores and is also tied for the team lead with 29 receptions. That alone makes this unit worthy against an Army defense that allows 199.7 yards per game on the ground. Factor in that quarterback Brandon Doughty has just nine touchdown passes on the year whereas the ground game is responsible for 23 scores, and you've got a nice blend of yardage and scoring that should gash the Black Nights.
North Carolina (vs. Virginia): The Tar Heels have struggled to run the ball for most of the season, averaging just 108.4 yards per game, but there are reasons why this looks like a worthwhile gamble. First off, the Cavaliers allow 181.2 yards per game on the ground this year but have been gashed for 249.7 yards on average the last three weeks. They've also allowed 11 touchdowns in that three-week stretch. The Tar Heels will be playing their first game without quarterback Bryn Renner , who is out for the season with a shoulder separation. Dual-thread backup Marquise Williams will take over, and while he may steal some of the yards on the ground, look for coach Larry Fedora to use the run to set up some deep pass opportunities. North Carolina's four-headed backfield is just what unit-based plays are all about, and Saturday feels like a day where freshman T.J. Logan can have his coming out party, and Romar Morris , A.J. Blue and Khris Francis can get in on the act.
Miami (vs. Virginia Tech): The Hurricanes look like another risky play in Week 11. They've lost star Duke Johnson for the season due to a broken ankle and face a ninth-ranked Hokies rush defense that allows just 102.7 yards per game, and only seven touchdowns all season. With all of that in mind, Miami used a ground and pound attack effectively at Florida State last week for a half, before the game started getting away from them and the Canes had to open up the offense. Expect more of the same this week, after seeing the way Boston College effectively ran on Virginia Tech last weekend. New starter Dallas Crawford proved his worth at North Carolina earlier this season, and freshman Gus Edwards likely will see more touches in Johnson's absence. Miami's key to winning is pounding the ball, and in a must-win game for the Canes, expect them to do just that.
USC (at California): It's a pick-your-poison kind of week with the Trojans offense. The Trojans haven't been particularly great through the air this season, and Cal's defense is a sieve to opposing rushing attacks, but the Bears also rank dead last nationally against the pass, allowing a whopping 340.9 yards per game. Quarterback Cody Kessler welcomed back star receiver Marqise Lee last week, and Lee promptly posted a 100-yard outing. In Lee's absence, Nelson Agholor found some confidence, going for 420 yards the last four games. The Trojans haven't had a 300-yard passing game - yet. Look for them to build confidence in Week 11.
Troy (at Louisiana-Lafayette): Another Trojans receiving corps deserves to be featured in Week 11, as the Troy passing attack hasn't slowed virtually all season. Quarterback Corey Robinson has passed for 300 yards or more in three consecutive contests and six times this season. Led by Eric Thomas ' 48 catches, 742 yards and 10 scores, these Trojans have a remarkable 11 receivers with at least 10 catches, 10 of whom have surpassed 100 yards on the year, and seven Trojans have caught touchdowns. The Ragin' Cajuns defense has surrendered 300 yards or more passing four times this season, including 330 last week to New Mexico State. Finally, Troy's leading rusher, Brandon Burks , has just 106 carries and 509 yards all season. Look for Robinson and company to pitch it all over the yard this week.
Hawaii (at Navy): It's taken a little while, but the Warriors pass offense is finally churning out big totals as if Timmy Chang or Colt Brennan were under center. Former Duke Blue Devil Sean Schroeder had passed for at least 321 yards in five straight contests before Week 10's disappointment at Utah State, but he'll look to right the ship in a cross-country trip to Navy. Paced by receivers Chris Gant and Scott Harding , the Warriors average 294.4 yards through the air, and the passing game has attempted fewer than 40 passes just once. Navy's pass defense is not shabby statistically, largely because its triple-option offense keeps the clock moving. Navy has allowed two 300-yard outings to date, and as long as the trip east doesn't do Hawaii in, the Warriors will be passing often in hopes of staying close with the Midshepmen.
Wyoming (vs. Fresno St.): The over/under in this game is 79, a clear indication we're in for plenty of fireworks. The Bulldogs defense allows 276.4 yards per game, and the Cowboys offense is putting up 297.4 yards each contest. Wyoming quarterback Brett Smith has a solid quartet of receiving options, as Robert Herron , Dominic Rufran , Tanner Gentry and Jalen Claiborne have at least 23 catches and 303 yards.
Nevada (at Colorado State): Quarterback Cody Fajardo and the Wolfpack are getting a do-over after last week's struggles at Fresno State. Fajardo used his legs in an effort to control the clock against the high-powered Bulldogs defense, but the exact opposite is on tap in Week 11 at Colorado State. The Rams are a running team, and the clock will move quickly. They also give up 309.6 yards per game through the air, a number Fajardo has topped three times this season. Led by Brandon Wimberly 's 67 catches and 696 yards, teammates Richy Turner (46 catches, 571 yards,) and Aaron Bradley (39 grabs, 463 yards) are a nice triplet of receivers that should gash the Rams in a bounce-back performance.
Louisiana-Monroe (vs. Arkansas State): Senior quarterback Kolton Browning made a surprise return two weeks ago after he was thought to be lost for the season due to a quad tear. He's promptly thrown nine touchdowns in those two games, and went for 354 yards last week at Troy. Warhawks' receivers Rashon Ceaser and Tavarese Maye each have more than 40 catches so far, and Ceaser is coming off his first 100-yard outing of the year. Eight players have caught touchdowns this season for ULM, and Browning has a certain moxy about him that warrants attention even against a reasonably sound Red Wolves defense. They surrendered 504 yards to Troy in Week 3, but have not allowed more than 256 yards passing in any other game this season. Even if Browning's yardage is down, look for his scores to be up, making the Warhawks a worthwhile option in Week 11.
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