Sports Today: Can Bengals, Buckeyes bounce back? Weekend forecast

Published: Friday, November 10, 2017 @ 10:10 AM

JACKSONVILLE, FL - NOVEMBER 05:  Andy Dalton #14 of the Cincinnati Bengals leaves the field with his teammates at halftime of their game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field on November 5, 2017 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Logan Bowles/Getty Images)
Logan Bowles/Getty Images
JACKSONVILLE, FL - NOVEMBER 05: Andy Dalton #14 of the Cincinnati Bengals leaves the field with his teammates at halftime of their game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field on November 5, 2017 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Logan Bowles/Getty Images)(Logan Bowles/Getty Images)

The Cincinnati Bengals begin the second half of their season this week in Tennessee, but it’s hard to imagine Marvin Lewis’ team creating any beautiful music while they’re down there. 

The 5-3 Titans aren’t great, but what signs of life have the Bengals shown? (Aside from this.)

Lewis insisted he saw progress from the offense last week even as they had arguably one of the worst performances in team history if stats mean anything to you. 

If that wasn’t completely coach-speak and there was any validity to that statement, I would have to guess it was a matter of more guys carrying out their assignments more consistently. 

That’s all well and good, but there are still too many offensive linemen who can’t block, so it doesn’t really matter. 

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Tennessee probably is more or less the team the 3-5 Bengals should have been this year, finding ways to win despite some flaws. 

The Titans are just kind of solid across the board, and their potential franchise quarterback is getting healthier while Cincinnati’s continues to disappoint. Gotta go with the home team here. 

Titans 21, Bengals 10… 

Ohio State tries to bounce back from a horrid loss at Iowa by beating unpredictable Michigan State. 

The Spartans are in the hunt for a Big Ten East title after knocking off Penn State last week, and it’s anybody’s guess which version of either of these teams will show up Saturday for a high noon showdown. 

The better roster, as usual, belongs to Urban Meyer’s Buckeyes, but he’s squandered that advantage more than once already this season. 

PREVIEW: Ohio State Buckeyes seek bounce back vs. Michigan State

While the defense has been disappointing more often than not this season, I am giving them a bit of a pass given the attrition on that side of the ball in consecutive years. 

Perhaps we’ll take some time in the offseason go to back over the ruins of the Silver Bullets if they don’t rebound, but for now I’m still stuck on Ohio State’s offense because that is allegedly Meyer’s specialty. 

The general impression I got from offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson’s very informative interview Wednesday night was he knows all of his options for diversifying the stagnant running game, but he may or may not be convinced something different is necessary. 

It’s also worth pointing out he may think his boss would rather stay committed to the spread than beef up inside with an extra blocker, so he might do that just to avoid Meyer’s ire. 

That would be a mistake, in my opinion. I’d like to see them bulk up that running game with more 12 (two tight end) or 21 (two backs) personnel and/or swap that yucky zone blocking for the good ol’ power play (a.k.a. “dave” under Jim Tressel), but I’m not holding my breath. 

Ohio State remains No. 2 in Football Outsiders S&P+, mostly because of how thoroughly the Buckeyes decimated the bad teams they played between Oklahoma and Penn State. 

Michigan State is 22nd and has abysmal offensive numbers, but I get the impression the Spartans really are better than they look on paper because they have just improved since the start of the season. 

So, who wins this one? 

I think Ohio State will regroup and take care of business, but this really looks like a tossup. 

Ohio State 31, Michigan State 24… 

Ohio football’s renaissance under Frank Solich continues. 

The Bobcats pounded Toledo (previously undefeated in the MAC) 38-10 last night with Covington’s A.J. Ouellette rushing for 70 yards and a touchdown. 

Miami’s rival has gotten so good under Solich I actually saw at least one Bobcat alumn Tweet it don’t mean a thing without the ring (as in winning in the MAC championship game). 

What a world. 

Meanwhile, the RedHawks need two wins to become bowl eligible for the second consecutive season. They finish with the two worst teams in the MAC West: 3-7 Eastern Michigan and 2-8 Ball State… 

College basketball is back tonight, and it promises to be an interesting season in the Miami Valley and beyond. 

Dayton might be hard-pressed to win a third straight Atlantic 10 title, but the Flyers’ first season under Anthony Grant is intriguing for several reasons. 

David Jablonski provides five things to watch tonight as they open the season against Ball State. 

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I look for this to be an athletic team that is strong defensively. Point guard play and outside shooting are open questions. If those are strong, this team could really surprise. If they are bad, it could be a long year. 

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Having a guy in Kostas Antetokounmpo who could just show the ability to take over games is a wild card, too. 

Meanwhile, Wright State opens the season tonight at Loyola. 

The Raiders are in year two under Scott Nagy, and they won’t begin the season with all their bullets in the holster. 

Once they get to full strength, this will be an interesting team, too. 

For better or for worse, early wins and losses don’t mean much for WSU since they are in a conference that typically only gets one NCAA tournament bid… 

Of course, the high school football playoffs continue tonight with second-round games being played across the state. 

Some really intriguing matchups here, starting of course with Dunbar-Trotwood. 

Dunbar has made quite a turnaround from getting blown out by Belmont in week one, and Trotwood is looking to get back to the state championship, where the Rams lost last season. 

Talk about a chance for a statement win for the Wolverines. 

Chaminade Julienne already got one of those last week by winning a rematch over Alter. The Eagles get New Richmond this week. 

Then there is Valley View vs Clinton-Massie, a matchup of an old-school powerhouse against a newer one. 

The most intriguing team to watch tonight might be Sidney. The Yellow Jackets have had a dream season, but they face a Herculean task to extend it: three-time state champion La Salle... 

Lastly, in case you didn’t bother paying attention to the release of the Silver Slugger awards because Joey Votto was obviously going to win one, well, I’ve got bad news. 

Votto’s award went to Paul Goldschmidt of the Diamondbacks for some reason. 

This is even more perplexing than the annually ridiculous Gold Glove voting because, well, there are actual numbers that can tell us who the best hitters are. 

What gives, man? 

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Year 1 done: Auburn RB Devan Barrett ‘appreciates’ coaching, Kerryon Johnson’s impact

Published: Thursday, February 22, 2018 @ 11:35 AM

Auburn Tigers football-running back Devan Barrett-Kerryon Johnson

Devan Barrett’s takeaways from his freshman season had little to do with his own on-field experiences.

The Tampa, Fla., native totaled 79 yards on 14 carries, but he also took note of everything happening around him as Auburn climbed to the top of the SEC. It was a memorable year to say the least.

He seems really, really happy,” said Tampa Catholic High School coach Mike Gregory. “Which, that’s always Step 1 for those guys is making sure they’re happy with the setting and environment they are in.” 

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Barrett was less concerned with minutes and attempts during his first season at Auburn and was more focused on listening to everyone around him, whether that meant a coach or an upperclassmen. The newcomer understood long before he stepped on campus that it would be the best way to achieve his goals.

“You can definitely tell he appreciates the coaching he’s getting from Coach [Tim] Horton and some of the other offensive guys on that staff,” Gregory said. “He seems really excited about coaching. He’s excited about the opportunity to compete. He knows he’s gotta put some weight on, get a little bit bigger to be an every down back in the SEC, but he’s confident in his abilities.”

With Horton commanding the running backs’ meeting room Barrett got a good grip on the offense and was never intimidated or overwhelmed. His relationships with his coaches developed naturally after he arrived on campus.

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“Obviously it’s different being in college,” former Auburn receiver and Tampa Catholic wide receiver coach Jeris McIntyre said. “But I think Horton has brought him along step-by-step and has taught him to be patient and work hard every day.”

Barrett also paid close attention to everything Kerryon Johnson did. That’s how he figured out the importance of patience, every day improvement and taking care of his body — little things that will go a long way.

Devan Barrett is a likely candidate to replace Kerryon Johnson (21) during the next couple of seasons, since both offer versatility and posses the skill set of a wide receiver. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

“I think that’s huge. Any time he can learn from a guy who’s been through it and been in the same situations,” Gregory said. “He took advice and latched onto the older guys. Those are the guys that, first of all are honest with you. And they are the guys who’ve been through it, who’ve done it.”

At the end of 2017, Johnson was leading the conference in rushing yards (1,391) and opted to pursue a NFL career. What was perhaps even more important than the way Johnson found holes or battled through injuries, however, was the way the Huntsville, Ala., native, approached things off of the field. Barrett took special notice of that, too.

“Kerryon is a great guy, a model citizen. Everyone likes him and he carries himself well in the meeting rooms and off the field,” McIntyre said. “That’s something that Devan is learning, just how to be a pro’s pro — take care of your body, things like that. It helped him a lot having someone like Kerryon around.”

The post Year 1 done: Auburn RB Devan Barrett ‘appreciates’ coaching, Kerryon Johnson’s impact appeared first on SEC Country.

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Staying alive? What we learned from Oregon’s 77-68 win over Arizona State

Published: Thursday, February 22, 2018 @ 8:55 PM

A Final Four team last season, Oregon isn’t likely to make the NCAA tournament barring a major run here in the final games before Selection Sunday. Such a late push needed a start, and the Ducks got that Thursday in beating Arizona State 77-68 at home.

A strong first half was followed by a sluggish final 20 minutes, though the Ducks (18-10, 8-7 Pac-12) did what they needed to in order to come out on top. There’s still much work to do before Oregon can really think about the NCAA tourney, starting with Saturday’s visit from conference leader Arizona, but for now here’s what we learned about this barely-on-the-bubble squad:

Prowess in the paint

Oregon doesn’t start a player over 6-foot-8, with 6-foot-9 Kenny Wooten its tallest regular contributor. So how did the Ducks outrebound Arizona State 40-32 and dominate points in the paint by a 36-14 edge? By fighting hard close to the basket, both offensively and defensively.

Though only 22 of 47 on two-pointers, Oregon pulled down 12 offensive rebounds that led to 16 second-chance points. ASU only had 5 offensive boards and 9 points on putbacks.

Ball care breeds results

Oregon turned it over just 7 times, a season low, with no player giving it away more than twice. In getting swept by the Los Angeles schools last week the Ducks had 36 total turnovers.

And only three of those turnovers were on bad passes or similar plays, the other four coming because of offensive fouls.

Sophomore guard Payton Pritchard had been particularly careful with the ball of late, his assist-to-turnover ratio up to 3.5-to-1 in Pac-12 play.

Better body control

Those four charges notwithstanding, the 20 fouls Oregon was charged with didn’t result in the kind of distinct free throw disadvantage it has seen many times this season. Arizona State was 16 of 18 from the foul line but only attempted 9 free throws in the second half as the Ducks committed just 9 fouls after halftime.

The Ducks were 18 of 23 from the line, only the 11 th time in 28 games they were out-attempted. They are 11-0 when taking more foul shots than their opponents.

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Canadian women's hockey player apologizes for taking off silver medal

Published: Friday, February 23, 2018 @ 1:48 AM

The Meaning Behind The Olympic Rings

Canadian women’s hockey player Jocelyn Larocque apologized after taking off her silver medal during Thursday’s ceremonies at the Pyeongchang Olympics, saying she meant no disrespect and was caught up in the emotion of a bitter loss.

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The United States edged Canada 3-2 Thursday in a shootout victory in the gold medal game. During the postgame medal ceremony, Larocque took off her silver medal almost immediately after it was put around her neck. Her action sparked criticism from media and fans in Canada.

Later Friday, Larocque issued an apology through Team Canada, the National Post reported. Larocque expressed regrets to the International Olympic Committee, the International Ice Hockey Federation, the Pyeongchang Olympic Organizing Committee, the Canadian Olympic Committee, Hockey Canada, her teammates and fans.

>> Photos: 2018 Winter Olympics: US women’s hockey team wins gold

“I take seriously being a role model to young girls and representing our country,” Larocque wrote. “My actions did not demonstrate the values our team, myself and my family and for that I am truly sorry.

“In the moment, I was disappointed with the outcome of the game, and my emotions got the better of me.”

Larocque said the action was something she wished she “could take back,” the National Post reported.

“I meant no disrespect — it has been an honor to represent my country and win a medal for Canada,” she wrote. “I’m proud of our team, and proud to be counted among the Canadian athletes who have won medals at these Games.

“Being on the podium at the world’s biggest sporting event is a great achievement and one that I’m thankful I was able to experience with my teammates.”

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Report: USC running back Stephen Carr out of spring practice with injury

Published: Thursday, February 22, 2018 @ 8:27 PM

A report from Adam Maya of Rivals indicates that USC running back Stephen Carr will miss all of spring practice due to a herniated disc.

Chris Trevino of 247sports added context:

The Fontana native was the favorite to take over the Trojan backfield as the No. 1 RB with junior Ronald Jones declaring early for the NFL Draft.

But a foot injury knocked him out for four games and slowed him during the final stretch when he eventually returned. His other struggle as a freshman was fumbles (one in the Pac-12 title game), the only RB on the team to cough up the ball.

Carr rushed for 363 yards and three touchdowns on 65 carries last season.

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