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Published: Saturday, April 14, 2018 @ 3:32 PM
— If the only thing to go by were the spring game, Ohio State’s choice for starting quarterback would seem to be pretty obvious.
Joe Burrow made the best case to be the man this fall, completing 15 of 22 passes for 238 yards and two touchdowns while Dwayne Haskins Jr. was 9 for 19 for 120 yards and two scores as well.
Of course, there’s more to football than raw numbers, and those can be deceiving at times since there are 21 other players on the field who have a say in what happens.
Nonetheless, Burrow’s line would probably be enough for me to choose him as the starter despite a handful of jaw-dropping throws from Haskins.
Again, that is if we were choosing based only on what happened Saturday afternoon at Ohio Stadium.
Since there is much more to consider, I still tend to think the starter on Sept. 1 when Oregon State comes to town will be Haskins.
I take Urban Meyer at his word when he says the battle was too close to call throughout the spring and the reason was that everyone (including third-stringer Tate Martell) played well rather than because no one proved worthy.
The spring game confirmed all three have the tools to handle the position even though all three have different skill sets.
That Haskins arm is hard to ignore, but Burrow still produced more explosive plays in the spring game so how much of a difference does that really make?
The biggest factor could end up being that Haskins ended last season No. 2 on the depth chart.
There is no indication he did anything to lose that spot, though Meyer said he and his coaching staff would sit down next week and see how all of the plays they charted during spring add up.
That data will play a big part in the ultimate choice, as will intangibles, knowledge of the offense and raw ability.
Meyer praised Burrow for his toughness and leadership, and he said his arm and delivery have improved since he became a Buckeye. He scrapped his way to Columbus from Athens, where he came within a whisker of leading his high school team to the state championship his senior season.
Although Burrow was a four-star recruit, he has painted himself as an underdog overall based on that point of origin.
Meanwhile, Haskins is the golden-armed four-star prospect who signed a year later out of Maryland. He can do things with the ball few players can.
More importantly, though, Haskins also has a come-from-behind win over Michigan on his resume.
Haskins entered cold in Ann Arbor last fall when J.T. Barrett’s knee failed him, and he delivered with a handful of excellent throws while the running backs and defense did the rest. He also had a key scramble despite not being known for his legs.
I don’t know if there is an official measurement for moxie out there we can all agree to use, but Haskins showed an awful lot of it that day.
Here the 2015 Ohio State quarterback derby is also instructive when it comes to trying to predict what Meyer will decide.
He ultimately chose Cardale Jones over J.T. Barrett at the beginning of that season, and he didn’t cite Jones’ superior physical ability or say he was clearly better in practice. Obviously, ability to run the football wasn’t a factor since that would have pointed to the starter being Barrett.
Meyer reasoned that since Jones had finished the previous season as the starter, he should stay in that position until he lost it or someone clearly overtook him.
If he follows that pattern, Haskins would seem to have a clear advantage.
That win at Michigan is a heck of a trump card, too.
But only time will tell.
Perhaps all that practice data will paint a clearer picture than perception has created at this point. Maybe those numbers will cause a starter to jump off the page.
Maybe that will be Haskins. Maybe it will be Burrow.
Complicating matters is Burrow’s potential to transfer if he isn’t named the starter. He said it would be a very difficult decision to leave, but I don’t think in this day and age many Ohio State fans would blame him for looking for an opportunity to play elsewhere.
The Scarlet and Gray machine always churns on anyway.
And yet after Burrow produced a clearly better line Saturday, there’s plenty of reason to think he could have done it during the 14 practices that preceded the spring game, too.
But that Haskins arm, right?
And that win at Michigan?
I suspect those will be harder to ignore when all is said and done.Follow @marcushartman
Published: Monday, April 23, 2018 @ 3:18 PM
When Preston Brown walked through the Bengals locker room for the first time after signing a one-year, $5 million contract, he noticed his number — 52 — already was assigned to Brandon Bell.
“I’ll have a talk with him and see what we can work out,” Brown said.
But that conversation never happened.
“When I showed up last week (for the start of voluntary offseason workouts), I already had it,” Brown said.
Bell was just as surprised was Brown, but he said he understood.
“It’s a veteran thing,” Bell said. “I get it. They say we’re still rookies. I don’t mind it too much. It is what it is.”
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Bell wore 11 in college so he didn’t have an attachment to 52. This year he will wear 51, which belonged to Kevin Minter last year.
Even though Bell didn’t have a say in the swap, Brown said he still plans to thank him.
“I’m going to have to take him out to dinner or something,” Brown said.
“I’ll take him up on that offer,” Bell said. “A nice steak would be great.”
Published: Monday, April 23, 2018 @ 9:55 PM
CINCINNATI — The Cincinnati Reds hit a home run for the first time in eight days. They grabbed a lead for the first time in 50 innings. They scored more than three runs for the first time in a week.
Most importantly, the Reds won a game, snapping a five-game losing streak by beating the Atlanta Braves 10-4 on Monday in the opener of a four-game series at Great American Ball Park.
With a 4-18 record, the Reds still have the worst record in baseball, and they are still off to their worst start through 22 games in franchise history. This was the first win for interim Reds manager Jim Riggleman, who took the reins after the firing of Bryan Price and was swept in his first series in St. Louis.
“I was involved in a situation in Chicago many years ago where we got off to a horrendous start,” Riggleman said before the game. “I’ve been through it. A great baseball man, Buddy Bell, went through that in Kansas City. I was able to say that to the players. We’ve been through it. We can handle this. You’ve got to handle it. The way to handle it is to get out of it. We’re going to get out of it. Our players are focused and will always be giving a great effort. The sooner the better, of course.”
Here’s a quick recap of the game:
Small crowd: The announced attendance was 9,463, though there were many fewer people in the stands. At the start of the game, there were only four people sitting in the upper deck in left field.
It was the smallest crowd at Great American Ball Park this season and the smallest since Aug. 31, 2009, when a crowd of 9,087 watched the Reds beat the Pirates 6-3. That was the last time the Reds had a crowd smaller than 10,000.
Drought ends: With the Reds down 2-0, Scott Schebler, hitting lead-off for the first time this season, hit a game-tying, two-run home run in the fifth inning. It was the first home run for the Reds since their last home game on April 15 against the Cardinals. They didn’t hit a home run on the six-game road trip that concluded Sunday in St. Louis.
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Schebler hopes this victory eases the pressure on the offense, which ranks last in baseball in runs scored.
“It’s one of those things where the whole season it felt like we never had momentum,” Schebler said. “We were great offensively last year, and I full expect us to be like that the rest of the year.”
Big inning: The Reds scored five runs in the sixth. It was only the third time in 22 games they’ve led in the sixth.
Pinch hitter Jesse Winker drove in the go-ahead run with a single. Jose Peraza drove in the second run. Joey Votto walked with the bases loaded to drive in the third run. A single by Scooter Gennett drove in the final two runs.
“We’ve been having a hard time, and I was really proud of the guys,” Riggleman said. “We were down again after losing a lot of ballgames. Then we got it going. (Schebler) had a big hit for us.”
Costly mistake: The Braves took a 1-0 lead in the third thanks to an error by the Reds. Left fielder Adam Duvall’s wild throw to third base got by Cliff Pennington, allowing Dansby Swanson to score with one out.
Power display: Nick Markakis hit a solo home run in the fourth to give the Braves a 2-0 lead. It was the third home run of the season for Markakis.
Missed chance: Reds catcher Tucker Barnhart struck out with the bases loaded to end the first inning.
Published: Monday, April 23, 2018 @ 5:02 PM
DAYTON — Former Dayton Flyers forward Xeyrius Williams will play his final season of college basketball at the University of Akron.
The Wayne High School graduate Williams announced his decision Monday. He will have to sit out the 2018-19 season and will finish his career with the Zips in the 2019-20 season. In posts to Twitter and Instagram, Williams thanked the Dayton fans who watched him play the last three seasons.
“You guys have been there through the ups and downs,” Williams wrote. “I also want to thank all the people, managers, coaches and especially my teammates/brothers who I had the opportunity to play alongside. You guys have all influenced my life in a positive way, and I’ll always cherish the brotherhood and the memories we made as a team.”
Williams also visited Kent State, according to his Instagram account.
Thank You Flyer Fans, I just want to take the time to thank all the Dayton fans. You guys have been there through the ups and downs. I also want to thank all the people, managers, coaches and especially my teammates/brothers, who I had the opportunity to play alongside. You guys have all influenced my life in a positive way and I’ll always cherish the brotherhood And the memories we made together as a team. Also I want to thank the coaches who recruited me this second go around. After strong consideration and prayer this was a tough decision. I’m choosing to leave Dayton and proceed with my academic and athletic career at The University of Akron #GoZips #PaybackSZN
Williams announced March 13 he was leaving Dayton. He was one of five underclassmen to leave the program. He appeared in 18 games last season, averaging 5.0 points and 3.1 rebounds as the Flyers finished 14-17. He had a breakout year as a sophomore, averaging 8.2 points and 4.8 rebounds.
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The season did not go as planned. Williams started the season in the starting lineup and played 34-plus minutes in each of the first four games, averaging 11.3 points. Then he missed the next five games with a back injury.
Published: Monday, April 23, 2018 @ 9:29 PM
DAYTON — The Dayton Flyers added to their 2018 recruiting class on Monday as Frank Policelli announced his verbal commitment.
Dayton offered Policelli a scholarship in January. He visited Dayton on April 15. He’s a 6-foot-8 forward from Long Island Lutheran High School (N.Y.).
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“I would like to thank everyone who helped me along this journey since I was a kid,” Policelli wrote on Twitter. “This process was very hard, and there were a lot of ups and downs, but the people closest to me helped me remain humble and focused through it all.”
Policelli joins Dwayne Cohill, a senior at Holy Name High School, and Jhery Matos, a sophomore at Monroe College, in the 2018 class. Dayton now has four scholarships open for the 2018-19 season.
Maryland, Illinois, Texas Tech were among the other schools to offer Policelli scholarships. He’s a three-star recruit who ranks 262nd in the class of 2018, according to 247Sports.com.
Policelli is from New Hartford, N.Y., which is four hours from Long Island. He transferred to Long Island Lutheran for his senior year. He missed the second half of his junior season after undergoing knee surgery. He averaged 28.1 points and over 13 rebounds as a junior.
Policelli played AAU basketball with the New York Jayhawks. Dayton freshman Obadiah Toppin also played for that team.