College football is back!
As the 2023 season rolls along, so will our weekly previews of games and NFL prospects to watch. This will come in addition to our NFL Draft coverage over the course of the fall and winter. Whether you’re a fan of the draft or just a college football fan, this series looks to give you an idea of what to watch each week.
Windy City Gridiron’s Lead Draft Analyst Jacob Infante will be taking a look at what to expect in Week 11 of this year’s college football campaign.
Game of the Week
No. 10 Penn State vs. No. 3 Michigan, Saturday Nov. 11, 11:00 a.m. CST
There’s a Big Ten matchup going on this week with massive college football playoff implications.
The star of the show at Michigan is J.J. McCarthy, a strong-armed playmaker who has looked much improved in terms of pocket presence and consistent accuracy in 2023. He’s my current QB3 and could solidify himself as a potential top-10 pick in this crucial final stretch of the season. The Wolverines have a stellar backfield duo in running backs Blake Corum and Donovan Edwards, both of whom carrying Day 2 grades for me at the moment. They also have speedy receiver Roman Wilson and big body Cornelius Johnson, while their offensive line is once again headlined by NFL-caliber talent with the likes of right guard Zak Zinter, center Drake Nugent and left tackle LaDarius Henderson. On defense, defensive tackle Kris Jenkins carries their highest grade for me as a physical freak with impressive speed and play strength. Linebacker Junior Colson is a rangy tackler at the second level, and edge rusher Josaiah Stewart is a slept-on name in this class. The secondary is also strong at Michigan, with rangy free safety Rod Moore, scrappy cornerback Mike Sainristil and ball-hawking corner Josh Wallace all standing out as future draft picks.
Here’s what I had to say about Penn State back in my Week 8 preview:
From a draft perspective, Penn State’s group for the 2024 draft might be the best group the program has had since James Franklin took over as head coach. Left tackle Olu Fashanu is an elite athlete with great physical tools and constantly improving technique, giving him top-10 value on my board and All-Pro upside. Cornerback Kalen King is a fluid cover corner with great ball skills, sound instincts and above-average athleticism that should see him come high in demand come April. Edge rusher Demeioun “Chop” Robinson is a rare athlete at his position with insane speed and flexibility — he could run sub-4.5 in his 40-yard dash at the Combine. Flanking Robinson off the edge is Adisa Isaac, another explosive rusher whose technique has improved over the years. SAM linebacker Curtis Jacobs is an athletic linebacker who might be better as a WILL in the pros but still offers three-down value. Back on the offensive side of the ball, the Nittany Lions have two intriguing pass-catchers in the form of 6-foot-6, 260-pound tight end Theo Johnson and twitchy inside-outside wide receiver KeAndre Lambert-Smith.
Big Matchup to Watch
No. 7 Texas WRs vs. TCU CB Josh Newton, Saturday Nov. 11, 6:30 p.m. CST
Texas facing TCU would’ve been a bigger deal if this were last year, but they still feature an incredibly entertaining matchup on paper with the Longhorns’ receivers against TCU’s secondary.
For Texas, Xavier Worthy is a likely first-round pick with his blazing speed, agility after the catch and separation capabilities. He’s flanked by Adonai Mitchell, a 6-foot-4 weapon who’s a bit more unproven but still features impressive route-running IQ and very good ball skills. Further down the depth chart, guys like Jordan Whittington and Isaiah Neyor are draft eligible and could get looks. That’s not even including star tight end Ja’Tavion Sanders, who seems like a safe bet to be the second tight end selected in 2024 should he declare. That group faces a strong TCU secondary on Saturday. Cornerback Josh Newton has 7 career interceptions and 32 pass deflections in college — he’s aggressive attacking the ball and coordinated in how he moves laterally in coverage. He’ll be best as a field-side corner, where he offers starter upside as a likely Day 2 selection. Newton will be assisted at safety by two future NFL draft picks in free safety Bud Clark and strong safety Mark Perry.
New Hampshire RB Dylan Laube @ Monmouth, Saturday Nov. 11, 11:00 a.m. CST
A recent Shrine Bowl invitee, Laube has the versatility teams have come to love in a late-round running back.
He’s a twitchy athlete with good lateral quickness and great creativity out in the open field. His patience in letting the play develop and short-area burst to explode through a hole is encouraging for his projection at the NFL level, as is his low center of gravity. Though he’s a good runner, Laube truly stars in other aspects. As of this writing, he has 702 rushing yards with 9 touchdowns, 60 receptions for 678 yards and 6 touchdowns, and both a kick and punt return for a touchdown. He’s a crisp route runner out wide or in the slot and has great ball skills for the running back position. He could be a sleeper worth keeping an eye on late on Day 3.
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