Bengals remain without rushing touchdown

Published: Tuesday, October 03, 2017 @ 9:47 AM

CINCINNATI, OH - AUGUST 28:  Jeremy Hill #32 of the Cincinnati Bengals runs with the ball during the second quarter against the Indianapolis Colts at Paul Brown Stadium on August 28, 2014 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images
CINCINNATI, OH - AUGUST 28: Jeremy Hill #32 of the Cincinnati Bengals runs with the ball during the second quarter against the Indianapolis Colts at Paul Brown Stadium on August 28, 2014 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)(Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

The Bengals are 1-3, and one reason why is the team’s inability to cross the goal line on the ground.

Cincinnati is one of two teams without a rushing touchdown. That’s despite boasting three starting caliber backs in Joe Mixon, Jeremy Hill and Gio Bernard.

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Bernard scored from 61 yards in a win over the Browns Sunday on a screen pass. If the Bengals hope to claw back into the race in a weak AFC North, their rushing attack could pave the way.

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Pro Football Focus pessimistic about Bengals offensive line progress

Published: Monday, July 16, 2018 @ 2:58 PM

Cincinnati Bengals offensive line coach Frank Pollack explains how talent and desire intersect to determine how long a player makes it in pro football.

Pro Football Focus still thinks the Cincinnati Bengals offensive line will be bad this season

This seems to be predicated on two things: Ohio State rookie Billy Price being no better than last year’s center and Trey Hopkins both being the starting right guard and being no better than he was a year ago. 

I’m not sure I agree on any of those points of view. 

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(You can find the full rankings here.) 

Obviously there’s some guesswork when it comes to any rookie stepping into the lineup right away, and Price is no different. 

Given his physicality, it’s hard to see him getting pushed around the way Russell Bodine did for the last four seasons, though. 

>>TAKEAWAYS from the last day of Bengals minicamp

Price may not be an immediate All-Pro, but he’s likely to be better than average quickly — and that would be an upgrade over Bodine, who only managed an “average” PFF grade once in four years in Cincinnati before leaving via free agency. 

Simply anchoring his spot consistently would provide a huge upgrade over Bodine and make everyone else’s job (including quarterback Andy Dalton) easier. 

>> RELATED: 5 reasons to buy stock in Bengals WR John Ross in 2018

As a young guy from a major program (Texas) who still hasn’t played that much pro football (12 starts, all last season), Hopkins may not have reached his ceiling. 

Like everyone else, he stands to improve from new offensive line coach Frank Pollack’s teaching

If he doesn’t, he probably won’t be playing because the Bengals have no shortage of options at right guard (Alex Redmond, Christian Westerman and T.J. Johnson). Johnson has been a solid sub at times while Redmond and Westerman showed some flashes late last season when the unit was decimated by injuries. 

>>RELATED: What can an offensive lineman do without pads? Plenty

A nice training camp competition is shaping up there, and it’s reasonable to hope that will bring out the best in one or more of the candidates.  

As for the rest of the AFC North, the Steelers offensive line ranks fourth in the league (up from 12th last season) while the Browns are ranked 14th despite the retirement of All-Pro Joe Thomas (don’t bet on them being this good) and the Ravens are 24th (do bet on them being this bad, if not worse). 

The Bengals start training camp next week (July 26). 

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5 things to know about the local high school football season (Vol. 1) 

Published: Monday, July 16, 2018 @ 12:37 PM

Fairmont QB Braden Miller unloads. Beavercreek defeated visiting Fairmont 14-3 in a GWOC National East high school football opener on Friday, Sept. 22, 2017. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF
Staff Writer
Fairmont QB Braden Miller unloads. Beavercreek defeated visiting Fairmont 14-3 in a GWOC National East high school football opener on Friday, Sept. 22, 2017. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF(Staff Writer)

High school football practice is getting closer, and our team previews are already rolling out. 

Miss any? 

Don’t worry! We’ll be recapping them periodically. 

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Here is version one: 

1. Fairmont wants to prove last year was no fluke. 

After being one of the surprise teams of 2017, coach Dave Miller’s Firebirds (7-4) are hungry for a second straight trip to the playoffs.

They have five marquee games on the schedule: the first two (Alter, Northmont) and the last three (Wayne, Centerville, Springfield).  

Their potential formula for success is a tale as old as time: The coach’s son (Braden) running the triple option. What’s not to love?  

»FULL STORY: Fairmont Firebirds football preview 

2. Valley View is hoping for a rousing encore, too. 

Are the Spartans back?  

One of the powerhouse programs of the ‘90s is coming off consecutive playoff appearances.  

They were undefeated in the 2017 regular season, and they don’t have to go far for firsthand stories about the glory days because the coaching staff includes former VVHS stars Brock Bolen and Andy Keating. 

»FULL STORY: Valley View football preview 

3. Greeneview could be better than last year’s 10-win team. 

The only other time the Rams went undefeated in the regular season (1996), they lost just about everybody to graduation.

Not so this time as 13 starters return, including all-conference performers Nick Clevenger, Clay Payton, Collin Wilson and Nick Wolfe. 

Quarterback Clevenger is the reigning Ohio Heritage Conference player of the year. 

»FULL STORY: Greeneview Rams football preview 

4. Arcanum looking to build off strong finish. 

Can the Trojans make a big jump in year two of the second Jason Schondelmyer era?

After going 4-6 (but winning three of their last four) in ‘17, they say numbers are up in offseason workouts. That’s never a bad thing, especially in Division VI, and especially for a team looking for its first winning season since 2008. 

They won’t have to wait to see how much progress they made in the offseason as Greeneview visits in week one. 

>>FULL STORY: Arcanum football preview 

5. Milton-Union is under new management, but it’s a familiar face. 

Like Arcanum, the Bulldogs are a former powerhouse being led again by a former head coach of the program. 

Can Bret Pearce (six playoff appearances the first time around) wake the echoes in his first season back at the helm? 

Having an experienced backfield (senior QB William Morris and senior RB Robbie Grove) helps, but they have to replace all-time leading rusher Zac Shields. 

>>FULL STORY: Milton-Union football preview 

Want more? 

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Dayton Flyers to open season on a Wednesday

Published: Monday, July 16, 2018 @ 11:13 AM

Dayton Flyers interview: Trey Landers

Two more non-conference games for the Dayton Flyers have become known in recent days.

The University of North Florida published its non-conference schedule on its website, and its first game is at Dayton on Wednesday, Nov. 7. That will be the 2018-19 season opener for both teams.

» SCHEDULE NEWS: A look at A-10 pairings

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The first day teams can play is Nov. 6. The NCAA moved up the start date from Friday to Tuesday this season so the teams can play their season openers during the week and not on a busy weekend for football.

“The start of the season had become so compressed with the holidays and exams,” Dan Gavitt, the NCAA’s senior vice president for basketball, told NCAA.com, “that the additional three days allows schools to better schedule the start of the season and it’s the benefit for the student athletes and coaches.”

North Florida finished 14-19 last season and ranked 282nd out of 351 teams in the Pomeroy ratings. It was one of the youngest teams in the country, ranking 331st in experience. It returns 10 of 12 players and its six top scorers.

Dayton beat the Osprey 86-71 at UD Arena on Dec. 5, 2015. That was the first meeting between the programs.

» DAYTON FEATURES: Donnie JonesJosh CunninghamTrey Landers | Ryan Mikesell

Another game that hasn’t been officially announced will be against Presbyterian. Jon Rothstein, of CBS Sports, reported that game last week, though a date was not announced.

Presbyterian, located in Clinton, S.C., finished 11-21 last season and ranked 334th in the Pomeroy ratings. It was a Division II school until 2007. It has not had a winning season since moving to Division I.

Dayton played Presbyterian once before, winning 71-52 at UD Arena on Dec. 19, 2009.

Presbyterian’s football program will join Dayton in the Pioneer Football League in 2021.

Here are the other known non-conference games:

Nov. 21: Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas. Possible opponents: Virginia, Middle Tennessee State, Butler, Florida, Oklahoma, Stanford and Wisconsin.

Nov. 22: Battle 4 Atlantis.

Nov. 23: Battle 4 Atlantis.

Nov. 30: Mississippi State at Dayton.

Dec. 8: Dayton at Auburn (reported by Rothstein).

Dec. 16: Dayton vs. Tulsa at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn.

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D.J. Carton’s commitment another major step for Ohio State

Published: Monday, July 16, 2018 @ 10:35 AM

COLUMBUS, OH - DECEMBER 22: Ohio State Buckeyes mascot Brutus Buckeye rolls across the court before the game against the Miami Redhawks at Value City Arena on December 22, 2014 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images
COLUMBUS, OH - DECEMBER 22: Ohio State Buckeyes mascot Brutus Buckeye rolls across the court before the game against the Miami Redhawks at Value City Arena on December 22, 2014 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)(Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

In his first year at Ohio State, Chris Holtmann proved he can develop an NCAA tournament team and an NBA prospect. 

Could he sign a potential pro, though? 

That was the biggest question the day Keita Bates-Diop declared he was foregoing his final year of eligibility to enter the NBA draft. 

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(The Big Ten Player of the Year was chosen in the second round last month.) 

Holtmann signed a top 25 class last fall, but none of the four players in the group came as highly regarded as Bates-Diop, who was a top 30 prospect coming out of Normal, Illinois in the class of 2014. 

Now Holtmann has two top 30 players committed for 2019, the latest being D.J. Carton. 

A five-star point guard from Bettendorf, Iowa, Carton reportedly chose Ohio State over Indiana and Michigan. 

He’s the No. 2 point guard in the country and ranked the No. 21 overall prospect in the nation according to the 247Sports Composite rankings

Carton joins Garfield Heights forward Alonzo Gaffney (who committed in April) to form the No. 4 recruiting class in the country at the moment. 

Why Ohio State? 

Carton told 247 it was a matter of his relationship with the current Buckeyes. 

“I felt like I was already apart of the team. They brought me in. I feel like I can be myself around them. It came down to that. The other two schools had everything I liked, and it was a really hard decision, but it came down to that.”

Carton and Gaffney can sign in November. 

They are scheduled to join a roster that already looks pretty solid all around. 

Though college basketball rosters are more fluid than ever, the 2019-20 Buckeyes should include a proven big man (Kaleb Wesson), a pair of four-star forwards (Kyle Young and Jaedon LeDee) and multiple young guards/wings, including Musa Jallow, Duane Washington, Luther Muhammad and high-scoring Versailles product Ahrens. 

Ohio State also has CJ Walker, a transfer from Florida State who must sit out this season, at point guard, so Holtmann should have plenty of options when it comes to putting together lineups. 
Ohio State signee Justin Ahrens is having another great season for Versailles. With his brother AJ, he hopes to lead the Tigers to a MAC title and state tournament berth.

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