5 things Bills coach Sean McDermott had to say about the Bengals

Published: Wednesday, October 04, 2017 @ 2:40 PM

First-year Buffalo Bills coach Sean McDermott spoke with members of the media who cover the Bengals on Wednesday. 

Here are five highlights from that chat: 

1. The Bengals do a great job utilizing their personnel on defense. 

McDermott, who made his name as a defensive coordinator at Carolina, said Cincinnati DC Paul Guenther maximizes the players he has and gives teams a variety of things to prepare for. 

“They certainly have a talented back end, a veteran back end, and led by Vontaze Burfict in the middle,” McDermott said. “A lot of it goes through No. 55 (Burfict) and his role in this defense is a big part of their success and I think the continuity they’ve had is key as well, in particular in the middle with Vontaze and some of the secondary positions also.

“They do a lot of really good things. This is a really, really salty defense.”

2. McDermott called communication key to his Bills defense’s hot start.  

Buffalo enters the game first in the NFL in points allowed (13.5 per game) and ninth in total defense (306.5 yards per game.) 

“I think the key has been communication and getting to know our players as well as we could have at this point. That’s been key. We still have a lot of work to do in regards to that as well.”

But he wasn’t in the mood to compare it to some of the strong units he has coached in the past, including a 2015 group that was the backbone of a Super Bowl run. 

"Each team is different. I know what we’ve got here. I’m confident in the group we have here. This is the fourth or fifth week of the season so we’ve still go a lot of room to grow and get better and that’s what we’re really focused on right now.”

3. He also wasn’t ready to hang any banners for Buffalo’s win at Atlanta in Week 4. 

The Bills are not only a surprising 3-1, they have knocked off teams expected to be contenders the past two weeks. 

Before bedeviling Matt Ryan and the defending NFC champion Falcons last week, they topped Denver 26-16 in Week 3. 

“It was a good win, but it was the next team on the schedule,” McDermott said. “That’s how you have to approach it. We’ve got to continue to get better, continue to grow and keep our boots firmly planted on the ground so we can grow and get better.”

4. Buffalo won’t take the Bengals’ struggling running game for granted. 

Cincinnati enters the game averaging 88.8 yards per game, 23rd in the league. 

Meanwhile, the passing game is on the upswing with Andy Dalton having logged passer ratings of 124.1 and 146 the past week weeks. 

The running back trio of Joe Mixon, Gio Bernard and Jeremy Hill won’t get less attention because of that trend, though. 

“In a lot of ways, stopping the run is about gap integrity and doing your job, knowing where your fit is and so that’s really the biggest focus on a week-to-week basis,” McDermott said. “They’ve got a good corps of running backs and are very talented so we’ve got to be aware of what they do with the run game.”

5. Buffalo enters the game tied for second in the NFL in turnover differential, and that’s no accident. 

Not surprisingly, taking care of the ball and taking it away are two focuses of McDermott’s team. 

“Yes sir it is. That’s something we’ve worked on since the start and we continue to work on,” McDermott said. “It’s similar to the culture. We have to continue to address it daily and weekly so we continue to do it, it’s such a critical part of the game.” 

West Virginia expects winless Baylor to put up a fight

Published: Tuesday, October 17, 2017 @ 7:11 PM

West Virginia offensive coordinator Jake Spavital isn’t concerned with Baylor’s dreadful 0-6 record.

He fully expects the Bears will put up a fight on Saturday.

“It’s still going to be a very tough challenge,” Spavital said during Tuesday’s Mountaineers media session. “The game that we keep referring back to is the Oklahoma game that they played, a night game, and they played very well and had many opportunities to win that game versus Oklahoma.

“Our kids are pretty excited to go on the road and try to get us a win … They know that this is going to be a tough test.”

It’s been a rough start for Baylor, who aren’t so far removed from winning back-to-back Big 12 championships in 2013 and ’14.

Spavital praised Baylor head coach Matt Rhule, however, for his job of keeping morale up for the winless Bears.

“With being 0-6, those kids are playing extremely hard right now. I think our kids have already mentioned it too as they’ve watched tape. It’s going to be a tough test. These kids at Baylor aren’t just going to back down and just fold over. They’re going to keep fighting.”

The Mountaineer players seem to think the same as their offensive coordinator.

Senior halfback Elijah Wellman was asked during the players’ media session on Tuesday if it was tough to be excited with an 0-6 team next on the schedule.

For Wellman, it’s not tough at all.

“Baylor definitely has some players,” Wellman said. “They could have easily won some of the games that they lost. Just like any other game we are going to prepare for it.”

West Virginia (4-2, 2-1 Big 12) and Baylor are set for a 8 p.m. ET start on Fox Sports 1 in Waco, Texas.

LSU safety Eric Monroe proves talent always runs deep at DBU

Published: Tuesday, October 17, 2017 @ 7:09 PM

BATON ROUGE, La. — Nerves were definitely a factor as LSU safety Eric Monroe jogged out onto the Tiger Stadium turf Saturday afternoon.

It was his first time in a starting role since the Class 6A Texas state championship game his senior year of high school in 2015. It was in front of a national TV audience on CBS, no less. And the manner in which the game started didn’t exactly do wonders for his — or anyone else’s — confidence.

Auburn marched all over the LSU defense in the first quarter, easing out to a 17-0 lead that included a 49-yard touchdown pass over the top of fellow safety Grant Delpit.

But Monroe, the redshirt freshman, and Delpit, the true freshman, each had a role in stabilizing the LSU defense against an Auburn offense that went missing in the second half as LSU rallied for a 27-23 win. Monroe finished with 5 tackles — 4 solo — and a pair of pass breakups. The Tigers allowed only 64 yards in the second half, holding Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham to 2 of 13 passing for 6 yards.

Overall, it was a pretty good performance from a safety duo playing together for the first time in a game setting. Monroe was starting in place of John Battle, who was out with a stinger that he picked up in the Florida game.

“[Monroe] made some mistakes, obviously, but I thought as the game went on he gained more confidence,” LSU coach Ed Orgeron said. “[Defensive backs coach] Corey Raymond did an excellent job of coaching him. The other players, John Battle was coaching him on the sideline, and I think the more he saw the formations, the more he knew the adjustments, the better he did as the game went on.”

Monroe agreed that Battle was helpful whenever he returned to the sideline at the end of a possession.

“He’s great. He’s a team role model,” Monroe said. “He was doing good helping me out.”

Monroe may return to the bench this week if Battle can make it back on the field against Ole Miss. And of that happens, Monroe is prepared to make a contribution if called upon. Patience is but one of many important lessons he learned while redshirting last season.

“Taking care of your body. That’s the number one thing [I learned],” Monroe said. “Stay in the film room, listening to your coaches.”

LSU receiver DJ Chark has gone up against Monroe enough in practice to know the Tigers were going to be fine without Battle.

“He’s a competitor. If he goes against me, he’s gonna go hard,” Chark said. “When I found out John wasn’t playing the day of [the Auburn game], I wasn’t too worried. [Monroe] might make a few mistakes in the beginning being on that big stage, but once he gets settled down, I felt he was going to play lights out. That’s exactly what he did.”

Ohio State recruiting: Coaches hit the trail, 5-star OL set to visit Buckeyes

Published: Tuesday, October 17, 2017 @ 7:07 PM

Jamaree Salyer-Ohio State recruiting-Ohio State football

Recruiting never stops, and if you take a day off, you fall behind. Join us every night for a daily recap of Ohio State recruiting news, insight on what’s happening behind the scenes and a glimpse at what’s coming next.

Ohio State coaches hit the recruiting trail

Ohio State doesn’t have a game Saturday, which means assistant coaches can hit the road to see some prospects in person this week.

Monday was a big one for the Buckeyes, with Urban Meyer and Greg Schiano visiting Houston Lamar 5-star cornerback Anthony Cook as well as Brenham (Texas) Blinn College defensive tackle Antwuan Jackson, a Buckeyes commit from the JUCO ranks.

Cook — the nation’s No. 2 cornerback and No. 14 prospect in the 247Sports composite rankings — is set to announce his college choice Oct. 30 and won’t make any more visits before then. He’s down to LSU, Ohio State and Texas, but it’s effectively down to a two-team race between the Longhorns and Buckeyes. Ohio State has been the leader in his recruitment for the majority of it, but Texas has closed the gap since hiring Tom Herman and is a legitimate challenger.

Elsewhere, Zach Smith was in San Diego to see San Marcos (Calif.) Mission Hills 3-star wide receiver Chris Olave, who recently received an Ohio State offer. Olave plans to visit Columbus for the Buckeyes’ Nov. 11 game against Michigan State.

Meyer was on the road Tuesday, this time joined by defensive line coach Larry Johnson, to see Blairstown (N.J.) Blair Academy 4-star defensive end Jayson Oweh. The Buckeyes are currently in a big-time battle with Penn State for Oweh, who took his official visit to Ohio State for the Oklahoma game.

Twitter hashtag king Kerry Coombs also has been roaming the South looking for the next great Buckeyes cornerback.

Jamaree Salyer set to visit

Ohio State will get the first crack at Atlanta Pace 5-star offensive lineman Jamaree Salyer. The nation’s No. 1 guard will take his first official visit Oct. 28 when the Buckeyes host Penn State. He’s also considering Clemson, Florida and Georgia and will visit those three as well.

This will be Salyer’s second visit to Ohio State after seeing the Buckeyes take down Michigan in 2016. He told Rivals.com that he’s excited to be back in Columbus.

“My first visit there was crazy,” Salyer said. “I didn’t get a lot of time with the coaches on that visit, so I want to be around them more this time. I want to talk with them, learn more about the plan they have for me and just get a better feel for how it is there.

“I want to spend time with players, talk to them some and just see what they have to say. I know about Ohio State’s history and what they have done on the field, so this visit is big for me to just get to know the people better.”

Brian Snead runs wild

Ohio State commit Brian Snead got to play a rare Monday night game thanks to a schedule shift, and he didn’t disappoint.

Snead ran for 3 touchdowns as Seffner (Fla.) Armwood beat Tampa (Fla.) Plant 27-7 to end Plant’s 20-game winning streak. Two of those scores came from 8 and 12 yards, but there was also a spectacular 65-yard run that showed why the Buckeyes are big believers in him. Snead was hit in the backfield by a pair of defenders and briefly surrounded by five would-be tacklers, but he somehow shook free and turned on the jets for a runaway score.

Buckeyes offer 4-star WR

A new Ohio State offer went out late Monday night when the Buckeyes offered Class of 2019 4-star wide receiver Ramel Keyton.

The Marietta, Ga., prospect is the No. 30 wide receiver and No. 172 overall prospect in 2019 according to the 247Sports composite rankings. He’s taken unofficial visits to Clemson, Georgia and Tennessee this season.

Twitter talk

Miss a day of the Ohio State recruiting notebook? Don’t fret! You can get all of the previous versions of Dotting the ‘Eyes here.

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Slowing Lamar Jackson is the ultimate litmus test for Florida State’s defense

Published: Tuesday, October 17, 2017 @ 7:01 PM

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Lamar Jackson’s run to winning the Heisman Trophy in 2016 was an accomplishment that recognized his brilliance over the course of his sophomore season, but no one can deny his coming-out party came in a 63-20 win over the then-No. 2 Florida State Seminoles.

Louisville’s star quarterback torched the vaunted Seminoles defense, throwing for 216 yards and a touchdown while adding 146 yards and 4 touchdowns on the ground. In the process, he smashed any hopes the Seminoles defense had of returning to its dominant ways.

As the Cardinals come to Tallahassee a year later, a few things have changed.

Louisville enters the game reeling, having lost its last 2 games and sitting with a 4-3 mark overall.

The Seminoles with a 2-3 record, have their own issues — some of which have to do with a defense that has had trouble slowing down high-octane offenses with dual-threat passers at the controls.

With those memories serving as the backdrop for Jackson, and with the Cardinals’ arrival on Saturday, coach Jimbo Fisher and the Seminoles know it won’t be easy to slow him down. During his weekly media availability on Monday, Fisher expanded on what makes Jackson so tough to defend.

“I mean he’s right there, and all of a sudden you’ll have him, and he has an instinct to move in a certain area, and you’ve got three guys around him, and all of a sudden they don’t touch him,” Fisher said. “There’s unique players like that. I tell you what he is, too. He’s really tough and competitive. If you really watch that film, he’s an excellent competitor and a very tough guy too.”

Seminoles senior linebacker Matthew Thomas spoke on Tuesday about the challenges of how to avoid a similar fate of what happened to the defense a year ago in defending Jackson.

“As far as defending him, we just have to contain him … and limit our mistakes on defense. Don’t give up [big] plays,” Thomas said. “Looking at the film [from last year], it’s obvious we had a lot of mistakes on defense. Too many mistakes and that cost us the game. That’s what the game came down to.”

Louisville’s record and struggles can’t be attributed to Jackson; his numbers show he’s been as dynamic as he’s ever been. Jackson has thrown for 2,322 yards with 16 touchdowns and 5 interceptions while rushing for another 690 yards and 10 touchdowns through seven games this season.

Last year, the nightmare against the Cardinals spawned a turbulent period that saw Florida State struggle defensively against South Florida and lose shootouts to both North Carolina and Clemson at home.

The common thread among teams that gave Florida State trouble were tempo offenses that had dual-threat quarterbacks. North Carolina’s Mitchell Trubisky accounted for 399 yards of total offense and 4 total touchdowns in his team’s win. Clemson’s Deshaun Watson tallied 430 yards of total offense and 2 scores — including a game-winning 34-yard touchdown pass with 2 minutes left.

This year, at least statistically, the Seminoles defense has done a better job of containing quarterbacks doing damage on the ground through the team’s first five games.

Only one quarterback — Wake Forest’s John Wolford — has amassed more than 300 yards of total offense against the Seminoles this season, and no quarterback has sniffed the century mark in rushing yards. Wolford’s 63 yards are the most the Seminoles have allowed to a quarterback this season.

That’s despite facing mobile threats such as Alabama’s Jalen Hurts and Miami’s Malik Rosier.

It’s the pass defense that has been Florida State’s undoing in close losses to N.C. State and Miami.

With Jackson coming into town, how Florida State handles him will provide a clear test as to whether the defense has made the necessary strides to fix an issue that has plagued them in recent memory.

They know the margin for error is slim when a threat like Jackson touches the ball on every snap.

“You can definitely say that because he’s explosive and able to make plays,” Thomas said. “He’s a home-run hitter. We just have to contain him and be aware of everything they are trying to do.”