Complete Week One Player Rankings & Projections l More Sit & Starts
It seems like every week there is someone going down with an injury but another guy rising up and putting together a crazy good game. Last week we saw LaMichael James hit the turf with a dislocated elbow after rushing for an absurd amount of yards, Tauren Poole getting hamstrung, and Nevada's Mike Ball sitting with an ankle injury. However, when one door closes another one opens which led to breakout performances from Brynn Harvey, Alfred Morris, and Iowa State's James White.
This week let's take a look at some sit and starts that maybe we haven't mentioned much in the past.
Last Week's Running Back Starts: Michael Dyer (17), Isaiah Crowell (17), Antwon Bailey (20), Anthon Samuel (11), Morgan Williams (24), Reggie Bullock (1)
Grade: A. Despite the sudden defensive surge from Houston, these were all good picks.
Last Week's Running Back Sits: Montel Harris (0), Lyle McCombs (7), John Hubert (12), Robbie Rouse (7), Orleans Darkwa (22)
Grade: B. Darkwa surprisingly went off, and Hubert was decent. Otherwise these were solid sits.
Start Em! Running Backs
Stepfan Taylor, Stanford vs. Washington State
Against the Cougars Andrew Luck will throw for his customer 300+ yards and three scores but as the game gets lopsided, the Cardinal will lean on the legs of Taylor to finish out the contest. Taylor has not been asked to be the workhorse like he was at times last year as he has seen only one game with carries north of 20, but he should supply plenty of production out of limited carries this weekend.
Marcus Coker, Iowa vs. Northwestern
Coker has been a bit hot and cold this season but he is seeing an average of 26 carries per game so against the Wildcats, he should turn those carries into over 100 yards and at least two scores.
Henry Josey, Missouri vs. Iowa State
Josey shares the backfield with a running quarterback but still seems to get his touches. Josey is not a 20-carry per game guy but is averaging a gaudy 10.5 yards per carry. Against the Cyclones Josey should only get around 12-15 carries, but he should convert them to over 100 yards and at least one score.
Ronnie Hillman, San Diego State vs. Air Force
Air Force gave up nearly 200 yards to Hillman last year so there is no reason to think that they will slow him this season. The Aztec running back is seeing over 20 carries per game but has the wheels to break off the long run; this makes him a dangerous weapon against the Falcons, especially as San Diego State attempts to control the time of possession.
Paris Cotton, Central Michigan vs. Eastern Michigan
I hate to pick on Eastern Michigan again, but after seeing Cotton put up over 100 yards rushing and receiving against Northern Illinois and then over 150 yards rushing against NC State, the Eagles are primed to get plucked by both Cotton and the Chippewas.
Bernard Pierce, Temple vs. Buffalo
For as well as Branden Oliver could do against the Owls, you can expect even more from Pierce against the Bulls. Pierce is nearly automatic around the goal line and is also a threat to hit the home run. Pierce may not even play the entire game but he will certainly get his numbers before relinquishing rushing duties to Matt Brown.
Sit Em! Running Backs
Isi Sofele, Cal vs. USC
Sofele has quietly put up decent numbers this year but the USC defense is stout against the run. I expect this to be an aerial shootout between Matt Barkley and Zach Maynard, leaving Sofele owners wanting for more.
Terrance Ganaway, Baylor vs. Texas A&M
Why bench Ganaway after his 200-3 day? One reason is that the Aggies are only allowing their opponents 76 rushing yards per game. Another is that they have the worst passing defense in the nation, which should have Robert Griffin winging it all day.
Vick Ballard, Mississippi State vs. South Carolina
Ballard has been the victim of poor quarterback and offensive line play. Against the Gamecocks, I don't see either getting much better. The Bulldogs have a quarterback controversy brewing between Chris Relf and Tyler Russell which, if Russell wins, could mean less running and more passing. Either way it is probably best to sit Ballard and find a better option.
Brynn Harvey, UCF vs. SMU
Harvey was a stud last week against Marshall but will face a stiff test in the Mustangs. Not only do they field the nation's 11th best rushing defense, but they can score quickly which could leave the Knights abandoning the run to catch up.
Pat Shed, UAB vs. Tulsa
Tulsa does not have a stellar rush defense but their best rush defense is their offense. The Golden Hurricane will score early and often on the Blazers which will mean rushes will be hard to come by for Shed. Shed is a dangerous weapon in the passing game, but when Tulsa is up on the scoreboard, they can pin their ears back and play aggressively.