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L.G. Patterson/Associated Press
When a college football team is thriving, that success is always a product of multiple position groups playing well. But one particular unit usually deserves much of the praise.
In the early stages of the 2020 season, several of these units have emerged. For this piece, “best” describes the most effective position groups on the most successful teams. So, yes, the highest-ranked programs are well represented.
Additionally, the selections provide a snapshot of what has happened so far, not necessarily a projection of what’s to come.
Quarterbacks are not included in the list; only positions with two-plus contributors were considered.
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Emilee Chinn/Associated Press
Two years ago, Appalachian State showcased an overwhelming secondary. That team surrendered 5.7 yards per pass attempt and a 56.5 completion percentage and logged 17 interceptions to eight touchdowns. This season’s secondary is statistically comparable.
So far, the Mountaineers have surrendered just 491 passing yards in three games. Opponents have completed an FBS-worst 40.5 percent of their attempts with a meager 6.6 yards per throw.
Shemar Jean-Charles leads App State with eight pass breakups, while Kaiden Smith has four and an interception. Shaun Jolly is a terrific corner, and Ryan Huff (pictured) has an interception too. That quartet is the foundation of a lockdown secondary.
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Rick Bowmer/Associated Press
While quarterback Zach Wilson is the star and the offensive line deserves a ton of credit, BYU’s running backs are excelling too.
Tyler Allgeier (pictured) has scampered for 391 yards at a scorching 7.4-yard clip and scored four touchdowns in four games. Lopini Katoa has provided versatility with 215 rushing yards and eight catches for 78 yards, totaling four touchdowns.
For good measure, Jackson McChesney added 56 yards and a score before a season-ending foot injury.
Wilson will—understandably—grab headlines if the Cougars keep winning games, but the rushing attack has been a significant part of BYU’s 4-0 start.
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Aaron Doster/Associated Press
One important caveat is Cincinnati’s competition. Austin Peay is an FCS program, and Army is reliant on the running game. But the Bearcats dominated both of them and shut down South Florida.
The secondary has ceded just 5.1 yards per attempt, a 51.5 completion percentage and only 515 passing yards. Three players—star corner Ahmad Gardner (pictured, 12), Arquon Bush and Coby Bryant (pictured, 7)—have nabbed two interceptions apiece, while Garner and safety James Wiggins each have three pass breakups.
Cincinnati entered 2020 with high expectations for the defensive backfield, and the unit is exceeding them.
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Brody Schmidt/Associated Press
You are reading this correctly: In a program known for its offense, the linebackers are Oklahoma State’s strength.
Running backs Chuba Hubbard, LD Brown and Dezmon Jackson merit shoutouts, but Amen Ogbongbemiga (pictured), Malcolm Rodriguez, Calvin Bundage and Devin Harper have demanded the spotlight.
Ogbongbemiga leads OSU with 22 tackles, and the other three are within