UPDATE


Sports Today: Will the Bengals offense show up in Minnesota?

Published: Friday, December 15, 2017 @ 10:22 AM

Cincinnati Bengals QB Andy Dalton was asked about criticism of his play during the team's 0-2 start, and coach Marvin Lewis talked about his job security.

The Cincinnati Bengals play the Minnesota Vikings this weekend. 

They probably won’t win — “they” being the Bengals, of course. 

The Vikings rank sixth in the NFL according to Football Outsiders with a top eight offense and defense. 

The Bengals are No. 20 overall — 21st on offense and 19th on defense in rankings that are adjusted for strength of opponent. 

Beyond that, this team has not shown the ability to play above itself, at least not for more than a half. 

It’s nice the Vikings bring back former Bengals like coach Mike Zimmer and cornerback Terence Newman because otherwise it would be pretty hard to drum up storylines. ›› Zimmer says Marvin Lewis should be allowed to coach Bengals as long as he wants

(Although ESPN helped with this ridiculous story ranking the Browns ahead of the Bengals in terms of desirability of the head coaching job if they come open after the season.) 

At full strength, the Bengals could certainly give the Vikings a game if not beat them. 

Still banged up, though, it’s hard to see that happening. 

The defense isn’t likely to have a very good day. 

I will be curious to see if the offense can come back with a respectable showing after that embarrassment against the Bears

This is another chance for Andy Dalton to be more than just another average quarterback. He could actually do something to overcome the various adversities his team has been facing, but history says he probably won’t. 

Score: Vikings 28, Bengals 10 

I guess it’s funny because this is the time of year we start writing a lot about guys playing for their jobs. 

All indications are there has been no time this season when Dalton’s starting status has been in jeopardy, but one has to think that will change if/when the Marvin Lewis era comes to an end. 

He’ll at least have to earn the job for a new mentor, right? 

Anyway, there’s a little intrigue for you. 

We often pretend that everything is static in sports, especially the higher levels. Once a player reaches a certain level, he can’t exceed it. He’ll just play at that level until age or injury necessitates a decline. 

I’m tempted to say Dalton is what he is. He has been better overall the last two seasons than he was before 2015, but he hasn’t been as good as he was in 2015 when everything was about as close to perfect as it gets in this league (until he got hurt). 

Maybe he can still get better. Maybe a new voice in the locker room would make a difference. 

RELATED: How the Bengals can still get something out of the end of this season

He’s good enough physically to succeed, but has he stalled out mentally? He’s not efficient enough in his decisions or his throws to overcome being just average as a passer and scrambler. 

I’d like to see him get some real competition at some point to see what that brings out. 

The nice thing about the current CBA, which has been a disaster for the on-field product, is that it allows teams to carry even a highly drafted quarterback along with a veteran without breaking the bank. 

You could take a quarterback in the first or second round two or three years in a row and see who develops without having to make a decision until rookie deals start running out. 

Not enough teams take advantage of that, whether they are pushing their aging starter or just waiting to see who might emerge from a group of young prospects… 

We got our first chance to talk to some Dayton Flyers since they lost to Penn, and there weren’t a lot of concrete answers. 

That’s probably fair, though.

I think with so many new faces, figuring out who needs to be where and when is just going to take some time. 

I’m also willing to believe with a lot of young guys getting big minutes, sometimes they think they’re playing hard and they really aren’t. 

Sometimes it takes time to learn there are some higher gears to access, and they need to be accessed for a longer period of time. 

And, of course, Anthony Grant was correct to point out some of his veterans have been inconsistent, too

The return of one of the older guys with experience — Xeyrius Williams — could help both physically and mentally, too… 

Meanwhile, the high school basketball season is starting to heat up. 

We’ve got a good group of high-scoring Division I prospects on the boys’ side and at least a pair of highly regarded freshmen in the girls game. 

Marc Pendleton featured one of the latter in a story this week: Mickayla Perdue of Springfield. 

She already broke the school single-game scoring record for the Wildcats, who are 1-2 after losing to Centerville on Wednesday night. 

Springfield fr. Mickayla Perdue has been an anticipated sensation in the rebuilding of Springfield High School girls basketball despite a decisive loss at Centerville on Wed., Dec. 13, 2017. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF

She’s been offered by Detroit. 

The other freshman already making headlines is Bree Hall, who is leading Wayne in scoring at 10.6 points per game. Hall’s scholarship offers already include Ohio State and Michigan State. 

RELATED: Daughter’s request leads to coaching change at Wayne

Trotwood-Madison senior Shai McGruder is leading the GWOC in scoring at 24.5 points per game. She’s signed with New Mexico. 

Iowa football: Why new assistant Derrick Foster should coach running backs

Published: Tuesday, January 23, 2018 @ 9:00 AM

IOWA CITY, Iowa — One mystery is over. Iowa named its 10th assistant coach, hiring Derrick Foster on Tuesday.

Another mystery takes its place. The Hawkeyes didn’t name which position group Foster will coach, but indicated that he’ll work on offense.

There shouldn’t be too much intrigue with what to do with Foster. He has a history of coaching skill-position players and should continue to do so with the Hawkeyes. He should coach running backs.

This isn’t a new idea. Land of 10 first brought up the notion of moving offensive coordinator Brian Ferentz from running backs to tight ends coach earlier this month.

Why coaching running backs makes sense

Brian Ferentz is an established tight ends coach, playing a role in helping Rob Gronkowski develop into a superstar early in his NFL career.

Foster is an established running backs coach. He spent the last two seasons coaching the position at Samford. He also coached running backs while at Tennessee and Northwestern State.

Identify a running backs coach made sense before Iowa made the hire. Now that the new coach comes equipped with experience coaching at the position, putting Foster at running backs is an obvious move.

“Our goal was to use this additional coaching position to help us in multiple areas, and we did that,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said in a statement. “We gained Derrick as a coach, we bolstered our recruiting capabilities, and we strengthened our commitment to special teams by allowing LeVar Woods to focus entirely on a significant phase of our game.”

Recruiting component

Recruiting was always a major component of this hire. The Hawkeyes will judge Foster on the talent he brings in as well as how he helps develop that talent.

Foster was born in Alabama and he has coached in the South. It would make sense that he holds strong recruiting ties there as well.

Teams always pull talent from where their coaches hold the best recruiting relationships. Foster’s hire looks like an indication Iowa seeks a stronger presence in the South.

This isn’t totally new territory. The Hawkeyes landed wide receiver Brandon Smith from Mississippi and Trey Creamer from Georgia in 2017. They are currently a finalist for 2018 Georgia linebacker Jayden McDonald.

Iowa always recruits Florida and Foster can potentially help expand the Hawkeyes’ footprint in other parts of the South. Iowa is always after talent. There is plenty of it below the Mason-Dixon Line.

While the region he recruits matters, so does the caliber of prospects Foster brings in. Skill-position coaches have an eye for skill-position players. They can evaluate any position group, but Iowa is in need of more talent at wide receiver. Anything Foster can do to improve the playmaking potential at the position should be a priority on the recruiting trail.

In typical Iowa fashion, the Hawkeyes are playing this coaching hire close to the vest. Details aren’t being revealed. But the move the Hawkeyes should make is right in front of everyone, easy to see. Iowa’s best move is to put Foster at running backs coach.

Michigan faces uphill climb as Big Ten East ‘more competitive than ever’

Published: Tuesday, January 23, 2018 @ 9:00 AM

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — In more than 45 years as a football player, coach and analyst, Gerry DiNardo has seen dramatic changes in the landscape of college football. He has seen, in particular, how it affects Michigan.

The Big Ten Network analyst has seen one change that has affected the Wolverines the most: Big Ten Conference realignment has placed it in one of the most competitive divisions in college football.

Winning the Big Ten East is a tremendous test because of the depth of the division. Ohio State, Penn State and Michigan State pose a significant challenge for Jim Harbaugh and Michigan, who are battling to regain relevancy.

Gerry DiNardo

“This is new ground for Michigan fans,” said DiNardo, a former coach at Vanderbilt, LSU and Indiana. “The East Division has changed everything. The root of the challenge is the realigned Big Ten.”

Michigan and Ohio State were the Big Ten’s long-time juggernauts. The Wolverines and the Buckeyes outrecruited their conference counterparts, and the rivalry game on the final weekend of the regular season almost always became the de facto Big Ten championship game.

But that model, DiNardo explained, has changed dramatically. Penn State began Big Ten play in 1993, and the Big Ten added Nebraska in 2011 and split into two divisions (Leaders and Legends). Then the Big Ten realigned geographically in 2014 when it added Maryland and Rutgers. That placed Michigan in what many believe to be the toughest division in college football.

Michigan vs. Big Ten East heavyweights since 2015

Season Michigan State Ohio State Penn State
2015 Loss Loss Win
2016 Win Loss Win
2017 Loss Loss Loss

Michigan now has to bully its way through Ohio State, Penn State and Michigan State in order to be a legitimate contender for the Big Ten Championship and for the College Football Playoff. The Wolverines are a combined 3-6 against those three in Harbaugh’s three years at Michigan.

“The positive about Michigan right now, any coach would need more time than three years in the new model, to be successful,” DiNardo said. “Urban [Meyer] and James [Franklin at Penn State] did it in three, while Mark [Dantonio] did it in 10. And that’s the good news — that it isn’t as simple as it looks. Scott Frost will find the same thing at Nebraska. This is a different model than Michigan is used to, because it’s more competitive than ever.

“That’s how I view the challenge.”

Tinkering vs. overhaul

Michigan hasn’t won a Big Ten Championship since 2004, when it split the title with Iowa. It finished just outside the College Football Playoff in 2016, the result of losses to Ohio State and Iowa.

Winning in the Big Ten East, however, isn’t a guarantee for any team. To remedy an 8-5 season — and a 14-year conference championship drought — Michigan will make changes. The Wolverines added wide receivers coach Dan Enos, tight ends coach Sherrone Moore and linebackers coach/special teams assistant Al Washington.

Michigan also will examine its coaching personnel, player personnel and schemes. It might even tinker with its recruiting strategy, even though this season has brought a new wrinkle to recruiting with the early signing period in December.

One thing you won’t see is a major coaching change. While a fringe element in the fan base has called for Harbaugh’s job, DiNardo doesn’t believe the fourth-year coach deserves an ultimatum.

“I think people have reason to be disappointed, regardless,” DiNardo said. “But I say temper that disappointment and put it under the category ‘this is tougher than it has ever been.’ ”

The disappointment following a fourth-place finish in the Big Ten East in 2017, combined Michigan’s loss to South Carolina in the Outback Bowl, is understandable. Palpable, even.

But DiNardo brings up another point to factor into evaluating Michigan and Harbaugh.

“It’s reasonable to say he’s underachieved,” DiNardo said. “That’s a double-edged sword. Not because he’s doing something wrong, but because the competition right now is the best it’s ever been.”

Dakereon Joyner wants to impact South Carolina football as quarterback

Published: Tuesday, January 23, 2018 @ 9:00 AM

South Carolina freshman quarterback Dakereon Joyner gets it. Some people don’t think he can play quarterback in college.

The former 4-star recruit from Fort Dorchester High School (North Charleston, S.C.) has a resume that says otherwise. Joyner, who was 40-3 as the starting quarterback, passed for nearly 10,000 yards, was the 2017 Mr. Football, 2016 Gatorade Player of the Year, an Elite 11 participant and a state champion in 2015.

Nonetheless, there’s a handful of folks who don’t see him carrying that success into the SEC. Maybe he should move to wide receiver, or running back or play defense, they say.

If anything, the 6-foot-1, 200-pound quarterback just might want to tell them thanks — thanks for the ammunition.

“It kind of motivates me,” Joyner said.

Before committing to South Carolina, Virginia Tech was one of the primary contenders for Joyner, who was able to connect with former Hokies quarterback Tyrod Taylor during a visit to Blacksburg.

Taylor, now a quarterback in the NFL the Buffalo Bills, once faced similar sorts of doubts about his future as a quarterback. In fact, he still does.

“Just take it in and let it motivate you,” Joyner said of Taylor’s message. “People are going to talk, but don’t doubt yourself.

“When you doubt yourself, then you start playing poorly.”

In the same shoes, kind of

Perry Orth knows what it’s like to have people think he wasn’t good enough. The former walk-on quarterback turned South Carolina starter had the odds stacked against him the day he stepped foot in Columbia.

Orth is a testament that motivation can be one helluva drug.

Joyner, who’s trained with Orth and QB1 Athletics, has received sage wisdom from the former Gamecocks signal caller-turned-quarterbacks coach.

“Work harder than your competition. That’s plain and simple. It’s cliche, but that’s how I got on the field,” Orth said. “I just worked harder than the other guys that we had on the team, at the time. That’s why I ended up on the field. I’m not bragging, that’s just fact.

“Study tape, and it’s not just working hard means watching five hours of tape. You’ve got to watch tape. You’ve got to work out, so your body will be conditioned to play. You’ve got to throw. You’ve got to do your footwork. You’ve got to eat right and get sleep. You’ve got to do everything above and beyond your competition, because that’s what you’ve got to do at this level.”

The reality of it

As confident as he is, Joyner will be the first to admit that there are plenty of things for him to work on as a quarterback. He’s grounded enough to understand why others think he should play another position.

“I think people just say that because he’s a runner. … He’s got a really good motion. He throws the ball really well,” Orth said. “He’s very athletic. He’s light on his feet. That’s everything you want in a quarterback.”

If anything, it almost doesn’t help his case that Joyner is a really good athlete.

At The Opening last spring in Charlotte, N.C., he ran the 40-yard-dash in 4.64. His shuttle was clocked at 4.14 and he jumped almost 35 inches in the vertical. The 40-time was bested by just seven other quarterbacks who were tested around the country by The Opening’s staff.

According to Orth, who’s been inside an SEC quarterback meeting room, there’s more to playing the position than combine numbers and a performance in shorts and a T-shirt on a nice spring day in the Queen City.

“Now, the only question with him that I have and it’s with every incoming quarterback,” Orth said. “It has nothing to do with Kereon or any of the next guys, it has to do with — is he going to be able to grasp it, mentally?

Let’s get it going, let’s get it started

Joyner was one of 13 signees who arrived to South Carolina’s campus earlier this month for the spring semester. In December, before playing in the Shrine Bowl and Offense-Defense All-American Bowl, Joyner detailed his initial plans for life as a Gamecock.

“Just be the best I can possibly be,” he said. “Lead by example, lead vocally and just do me. Don’t try to do some things that I’m not. Just be me.”

With Joyner now on the roster, South Carolina’s quarterback room now has four scholarship players: Jake Bentley, the starter for the previous 20 games, plus the backups, Michael Scarnecchia and Jay Urich.

When spring ball starts in a few weeks, Joyner wants to “just get reps.”

“The biggest thing for me is to just learn,” he said.

South Carolina football updates

In Camden Price, Miami quickly found capable No. 2 kicker in class

Published: Tuesday, January 23, 2018 @ 9:00 AM

Camden Price-Miami recruiting-Mark Richt

Even if it’s only in practice, a 60-yard field goal from any high school kicker is eye-catching. It’s certainly the case for Miami special teams coordinator Todd Hartley, who values leg strength and kickoff capability above all else. So on an empty field last April 7, Camden Price’s no-doubt 60-yarder, only slightly left of center, was enough to make the Hurricanes take notice.

Hartley first made contact with the specialist from Archbishop Spalding High School in Severn, Md., during the ensuing days. Three months later, Price went to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., for the Kornblue Summer Kicking & Snapping Challenge, which serves as Miami’s de facto specialists camp. He cracked the top 15 in Kornblue’s Fab 50 rankings. If it worked out, Hartley told Price, the Hurricanes would love him as a No. 2 option.

“I liked it down there. I liked the school on paper, too,” Price said. “When they reached back out to me, it was one of my top choices.”

Communication died for for a while. A No. 2 kicker in a class with a scholarship player committed only can be such a priority.

On Jan. 11, with Miami ramping up preferred walk-ons as a priority, Hartley reached back out to Price on Twitter. The Hurricanes wanted to bring Price to campus for an official visit and add him as a preferred walk-on. They just needed a decision quickly.

“They were looking for a No. 2 and my kicking coach is good friends with the coaching staff,” Price said. “When Coach Hartley was looking for one he recommended me.”

It was a quick courtship. Less than a week later, Miami landed its No. 2 kicker. Price verbally pledged to the Hurricanes lzst Wednesday, picking Miami over Connecticut and FCS program Fordham. The senior then spent the weekend in Coral Gables, Fla., on an official visit. It only reinforced his commitment.

Price joins 3-star kicker Bubba Baxa in the class, and if Baxa is a four-year starter and Price uses a redshirt season, he could have a chance for a starting role as a redshirt senior down the road.

For the time being, though, the 6-foot-1, 170-pound specialist is the walk-on most likely to crack the two-deep depth chart in 2018. Price should back up Baxa this coming season and provide a more-than-serviceable fallback in plan in case of injury. Price, who also played some wide receiver at Archbishop Spalding, went 36 for 38 on extra points in his 2017 season and hit 3 of his 5 field-goal attempts. He also boomed 18 touchbacks, recorded 3 tackles and served as Cavaliers’ primary punter, booting a long of 53 yards.

“I’d say field-goal wise, I can compete with really anybody,” Price said when asked to describe his strengths. “I’d say Bubba’s got me on kickoffs because he’s just got an enormous leg, but I would say field goals, and I have the ability to punt.”

The Hurricanes’ group of specialists potentially could be set for years to come. Baxa could be a long-term fixture as both the kicker and kickoff specialist. Clay James, an unranked long snapper, is in the Class of 2018 as a preferred walk-on, too, and should start by 2019. If rising sophomore Zach Feagles’ strong Orange Bowl performance is an indicator of what’s to come, the Hurricanes should have their punter for the next three seasons.

Price might be the last piece of the long-term group, a specialist capable of either punting or kicking in a pinch. He’s just what Hartley needed in this last spot.

“He was just saying he wanted a No. 2 to come in to still compete for the starting job,” Price said, “but someone that come in the game, one play away, and in any situation be ready to kick.”

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