Sports Today: Ohio State football has to decide what it wants offense to be

Published: Wednesday, September 13, 2017 @ 9:56 AM

Ohio State’s Urban Meyer watches the action against Indiana on Thursday, Aug. 31, 2017, at Memorial Stadium in Bloomington, Ind. David Jablonski/Staff
Staff Writer
Ohio State’s Urban Meyer watches the action against Indiana on Thursday, Aug. 31, 2017, at Memorial Stadium in Bloomington, Ind. David Jablonski/Staff(Staff Writer)

Have you heard the one about how Ohio State football can’t do offense anymore? 

Of course you have because if you’re reading this, you’re on the internet, and there is nowhere on the web without someone’s take on how Urban Meyer’s famous attack has broken down. 

I found this one from Yahoo! Sports’ Pete Thamel particularly useful as it confirms (albeit through mostly anonymous sourcing) my belief Meyer’s offense has gone stale since he got to Columbus and so far little influence from Kevin Wilson can be found. 

Ross Fulton of BuckeyeGrove.com explains that aside from curiously going away from a running game that was working, a “foundational problem” is “the passing game is not built off the running game.” 

(Sorry to everyone who just had a brief bout with Tresselball PTSD.) 

Ian Boyd, who was ahead of the curve in pointing out some of Ohio State’s fatal flaws last season, also had an informative piece for SB Nation about how Oklahoma kept the Ohio State defense off balance all night with a smart play-action scheme (including, gasp, a fullback) and a quarterback who simply balled out. 

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Ohio State hasn’t had either of those things in a big game very often since Tom Herman left after the national championship season of 2014. 

Truth be told, the Buckeyes are still at the same crossroads they were two years ago. They must decide if they want to commit to being a spread-run option team or a power run/deep play-action pass unit. 

They were the former while thrashing mostly inferior competition in 2012, ’13 and most of ’14 until J.T. Barrett got hurt. They were the latter in the postseason when Cardale Jones replaced him. 

One philosophy fits Barrett best while the other is more suited to Jones, Joe Burrow and Dwayne Haskins. 

I believe the rest of the personnel is fine either way, though lack of tight ends or a fullback or H-back is a big problem. (That’s a recruiting error.) Having two reliable tight ends was a major key to the success regardless of who was at quarterback in ’14, a luxury they haven’t enjoyed since. 

If Meyer wants to stick with the option — I don’t think he does, to be honest, but I am certain he doesn’t want to bench Barrett — he has to modernize it because teams caught up to his version of that a long time ago. It was harder to tell because of the brilliance of Braxton Miller, Carlos Hyde and the offensive line of 2012 and ’13, but the offense has had issues from the beginning of Meyer’s time in Columbus. 

He has admitted on multiple occasions the “spread option” part wasn’t really big during Miller time. Instead they relied more on called quarterback runs, which Meyer equates to single-wing football and rely on different blocking schemes than his most basic spread run game does. 

I believe after Miller and Barrett had season-ending injuries in the same year, he realized his offense really is a quarterback killer. 

The spread-option guys have denied that from the start, but it’s always been obvious they were wrong. Tim Tebow was beaten up by the end of his time at Florida, too. 

Also the way Jones stood back there and flung it against multiple marquee programs was surely a great recruiting tool both for the guys who throw it and the ones who catch it. 

Meyer sticking with Jones to start 2015 points strongly to what he wants the offense to be in the grand scheme of things, but Jones was inconsistent and didn’t get much help from the players around him or Herman’s replacements in the offensive braintrust, so they went back to Barrett eventually. 

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That made sense in the short term because Barrett was much more productive running a few plays tailored to his strengths when he would replace Jones, who was undercut from the start when Meyer showed he was willing to bench him at literally the first sign of trouble against Virginia Tech in ’15. 

So the decision to go with the Barrett band-aid is still reverberating today as the offense has struggled and a popular fifth-year quarterback is the subject of much criticism. 

Classmate Billy Price came to Barrett’s defense Tuesday night, making some strong points about the quarterback’s experience and intangibles. 

Ohio State center Billy Price went to bat for fellow senior J.T. Barrett after the QB has come under fire for his role in the struggles of the Buckeye offense.

Assuming the majority of the team feels this way — probable but not certain given the age gap between fifth-year seniors like Price and Barrett and all those freshmen and sophomores — this is further proof the best way forward is to shape an offense around what Barrett can do. 

Regardless of who is playing quarterback, the offense must change, but the necessary adjustments vary. 

Benching Barrett would mean they face two variables (new offense, new quarterback) instead of one (new offense, same quarterback), and the latter is probably a larger gamble than they need to take. 

The worst thing about the present is they are stuck in between offenses and the quarterback they are using is only good at half of it. 

If they switch QBs but leave the scheme generally the same, that will still be true. 

In the long run, the best bet is to leave the option behind. Meyer knows this, which is why he recruited throwing quarterbacks like Burrow and Haskins, but he has hedged with Tate Martell. 

READ MORE at Marcus Hartman’s “Cus Words Blog

He’s got a tough decision now, but I also still believe he’s got the right guy to help him make if if he just trusts Kevin Wilson to do the job he was hired to do. 

They’ve compromised the running game in trying to fix the pass, a net loss in productivity that’s anything but necessary given the players at their disposal. 

One way or another, that has to change if the Buckeyes want to get back on course now or in the future — no matter who is playing quarterback. 

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Back-to-back homers lift Reds to 5th straight vs. Tigers

Published: Wednesday, June 20, 2018 @ 3:43 PM
Updated: Wednesday, June 20, 2018 @ 3:57 PM

Suarez homers off former team to lead Reds win

What at first appeared to be a premature detonation turned out to be the appropriate celebration when the umpires changed Eugenio Suarez’s double into a go-ahead home run Wednesday afternoon.

The Suarez blast, which prompted the fireworks to be set off while he was standing on second base, came one pitch after Scooter Gennett hit a game-tying, two-run homer off Detroit starter Michael Fulmer, enabling the Cincinnati Reds to post a 5-3 victory before a crowd of 19,177 at Great American Ball Park.

“I knew that was a homer,” said Suarez said, who had struck out on three consecutive fastballs in his previous at-bat. “I knew he'd come in with a breaking ball, and he hung it and I got it.”

The win was the Reds’ sixth in seven games against the American League this year and their fifth in a row against Detroit dating back to 2015, marking their longest active streak against any team.

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Fulmer (3-6) was one strike away from setting a season-high with 10 strikeouts while taking a 2-0 lead into the seventh, but Gennett crushed a 1-2 fastball into the seats in right field to tie the game with his 13th home run of the season.

Then Suarez hit the next pitch off what appeared to be the yellow padding in left field. But after a crew chief review it was determined the ball cleared the padding for Suarez’s team-leading 15th home run of the season.

The back-to-back blasts – the third of the season for the Reds – made a winner of Cincinnati starter Tyler Mahle, who allowed two runs in six innings with eight strikeouts and four walks.

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“Tyler did a great job,” Reds manager Jim Riggleman said. “Getting six or eight innings out of your starters gives you a chance to win and use your bullpen the way you want to use them.”

Mahle (6-6) gave up solo home runs to Jeimer Candalario in the first and Niko Goodrum in the fourth before stranding a pair of runners in the fifth and, after a visit from Riggleman, getting out of a bases-loaded jam in the sixth with a strikeout of Fulmer.

“That was huge,” Mahle said of Riggleman’s decision to leave him in the game. “Sometimes we get pulled before we want to, but today when he went out there I expected to get pulled. Two outs and I walk a guy and give up a double. In a situation like that you expect to get pulled, or at least I do."

But after Riggleman ordered an intentional walk of Dixon Machado to load the bases, Mahle punched out Fulmer for season high-tying eighth strikeout.

Scott Schebler, who went 2-for-5, rode the momentum of that punchout and got the game-winning rally started with a leadoff double in the sixth. After Tucker Barnhart flew out and Joey Votto struck out, Gennett tied the game with his homer, just the fourth hit of the day for the Reds.

And Fulmer never recovered. After giving up the go-ahead homer to Suarez, he walked Jesse Winker to end his day. Fulmer went 5.2 innings, giving up three runs on five hits with nine strikeouts and two walks.

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The Reds got an insurance run in the seventh when Barnhart’s second single of the game scored Billy Hamilton.

Votto followed with a walk to load the bases with no outs. But the Reds failed to blow open the game when Gennett and Suarez each hit shallow fly outs and Alex Blandino struck out.

“We were holding out breath a little bit because we had bases loaded and didn't any any more,” Riggleman said. 

The Tigers got within 4-3 in the eighth on a pair of two-out infield singles. Jacoby Jones hit a high bouncer between Suarez at third and reliever Jared Hughes. Jones stole second and came across an unattended home plate when Machado beat out a 10-foot chopper that pulled Barnhart out of position.

Adam Duvall, who stayed in the game after pinch-hitting in the sixth, got the run back with a solo home run, his 12th homer of the season, with one out in the bottom of the eighth.

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Billy Hamilton followed with a ground-rule double for his second hit of the game, giving him three consecutive multi-hit games. That last time that happened was July 2016.

Raisel Igelsias pitched the ninth and worked around a two-out single to record his 11th save.

The Reds win was their sixth in eight games.

“The way we’re playing right now is how we expected to play all year,” Gennett said. “If our pitching can keep us in the game, it’s only a matter of time before we get a few runs across.”

The homestand continues Thursday night when they open a four-game series against the Chicago Cubs.

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Looking back: Negele Knight last Dayton Flyer to be drafted in 1990

Published: Wednesday, June 20, 2018 @ 1:48 PM

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Twenty eight years ago this month, the Phoenix Suns drafted Dayton Flyers guard Negele Knight with the fourth pick in the second round. He was the 31st overall pick.

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Knight was the 47th player in Dayton history be drafted and the 11th to go in the first or second rounds. Although four undrafted Flyers (Chris Wright, Chris Johnson, Brian Roberts and Charles Cooke) have played in the NBA since Knight’s career ended in 1999, he remains the last Flyer to be drafted.

The drought could end Thursday. Kostas Antetokounmpo, who played one season with Dayton and left the program in March, is projected as a possible second-round pick.

Here’s a look back at the Dayton Daily News coverage of Knight on June 28, 1990 (story by Bucky Albers):

SUNS SHINE ON DAYTON'S KNIGHT

It came as a complete surprise to Negele Knight Wednesday night when the Phoenix Suns selected him in the second round of the National Basketball Association player draft.

"I never sat down and talked to them and I never heard from them," said Knight, who led the University of Dayton Flyers to a 22-10 record last season. "It's a surprise to me, but it's a good surprise."

Watching the draft on television in Detroit at the home of his brother, Oscar, Knight had to wait almost three hours until his name was called at 10:25 p.m.

He was the fourth player selected in the second round and the 31st overall.

"I'm doing fine . . . now that I don't have to play against K.J.," Knight said moments after he got the news.

K.J. is Kevin Johnson, the starting point guard for the Suns.

"I played against him in our Christmas tournament my freshman year," said Knight, referring to Johnson's appearance in the Merrill Lynch Classic with the California Golden Bears. "People ask me who was the best guard I've ever played against, and that's him."

Guard Negele Knight of the Phoenix Suns moves the ball during a 1993 game. Layne Murdoch /Allsport (Layne Murdoch/Getty Images)
 

The Suns, who selected 6-foot-8 power forward Jason Williams of St. John's with the 21st pick in the first round, took Knight in hopes that his presence will enable Coach Cotton Fitzsimmons to give Johnson more rest than he got during the past season.

"Kevin Johnson needs some rest," Fitzsimmons said. "You can ride a good horse to death if you use him too much."

Last year, Phoenix drafted 5-7 guard Greg Grant, the NCAA Division III scoring leader from Trenton (N.J.) State College, in the second round for the same reason, but he didn't get the job done.

The Suns had to press 6-4 shooting guard Jeff Hornacek into duty as a point guard.

Fitzsimmons thinks Knight could be the answer. He was particularly impressed with the numbers the 6-1 senior posted late in the season.

During the last five weeks of the season, Knight sparked UD to an 11-game winning string with a phenomenal scoring spree. He averaged 29.7 points per game. He shot .615 (72-117) from the field, .703 (19-27) from 3-point range and .820 (50-61) from the free throw line.

"He's quick and he's a tough guy," Fitzsimmons said. "You figure the last few games of the season were the toughest, and that's when he was the toughest."

 

Phoenix apparently was debating between choosing Knight and Brian Oliver of Georgia Tech. The Suns decided that Knight had better all-around playmaking skills.

Knight was the fifth true point guard selected. Chosen ahead of him were Gary Payton of Oregon State (2nd by Seattle), Rumeal Robinson of Michigan (10th by Atlanta), Dee Brown of Jacksonville (19th by Boston) and Lance Blanks of Texas (26th by Detroit).

Four other MCC players were selected in the draft. They are: Tyrone Hill of Xavier (11th by Golden State), Anthony Bonner of St. Louis (23rd by Sacramento), Derek Strong of Xavier (47th by Philadelphia) and Tony Smith of Marquette (51st by the Los Angeles Lakers).

Knight, who flew to Portland at the Trail Blazers' request two weeks ago, thought he might be selected by Portland late in the first round, but they picked 6-10 Alaa Abdelnaby of Duke.

Sacramento, which had four first round choices, also had an interest but backed off after landing shooting guard Travis Mays of Texas with the 14th pick.

Knight was mildly disappointed that he wasn't picked in the first round, but no Flyer has been drafted in the first round since 1979 when Jim Paxson was selected by Portland.

"It's Phoenix, they need a point guard and I'm ready," Knight said. "It's a good situation, and it will take some pressure off me. Now I have some kind of focus."

The Suns called Knight's agent, Fred Slaughter, in Los Angeles to inform him of their pick.

"Fred just called me," Knight said, indicating that he got no information about the dates of rookie camp or any other details. "All that will be discussed tomorrow. I'll talk with him again tomorrow night."

Knight, 23, averaged 22.8 points for the Flyers, who won the Midwestern Collegiate Conference tournament championship and played two games in the NCAA tournament.

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Middletown’s Vincent Edwards among NBA draft hopefuls

Published: Wednesday, June 20, 2018 @ 3:33 PM

Middletown's Vincent Edwards (12) fakes out Elder's Joey Sabato (23) during Friday night's Division I sectional boys basketball game Feb. 28, 2014, at Xavier University's Cintas Center in Cincinnati, Ohio. Middletown defeated Elder 54-47. NICK DAGGY / STAFF
Nick Daggy
Middletown's Vincent Edwards (12) fakes out Elder's Joey Sabato (23) during Friday night's Division I sectional boys basketball game Feb. 28, 2014, at Xavier University's Cintas Center in Cincinnati, Ohio. Middletown defeated Elder 54-47. NICK DAGGY / STAFF(Nick Daggy)

Middletown native Vincent Edwards will be among the many former college basketball stars hoping to hear his name called during the NBA draft on Thursday night. 

He is projected as a second-round pick by tankathon.com and TheRinger.com

The former projects him going to the San Antonio Spurs with the 49th pick while the latter sees him going 58th overall to the Denver Nuggets

After four years at Purdue, Edwards could arrive at the next level as a ready-made rotation member, but that is not what NBA teams are generally looking for in the draft

Since there are only two rounds, upside is almost always the focus, meaning players with production such as Edwards have to wait until younger players with more perceived potential go first. 

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The son of Wright State Hall of Famer Bill Edwards, he was a second-team All-Big Ten pick as a senior when he averaged 14.6 points, 7.4 rebounds and 2.9 assists. He shot 47.6 percent from the field and made 39.8 percent of his 3-pointers. 

The younger Edwards is the only Purdue player to score 1,500 points with 700 rebounds and 300 assists in his career. 

According to Basketball-Reference.com, four men born in Middletown have played in the NBA or ABA: Bill Edwards Sr., Bill Hanzlik (Beloit Memorial High School in Wisconsin), Luke Kennard (Franklin High School) and Jerry Lucas. 

The elder Edwards played three games for the Phoenix Suns in the 1993-94 season. 

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Here is how to get into Dayton event featuring Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Phil Jackson and nearly 40 other celebs 

Published: Wednesday, June 20, 2018 @ 2:35 PM

Michael Jordan is interested in building a golf course in Hobe Sound, near the Jupiter site where he is building a restaurant, reports said. (AP 1998 file photo/Bill Kostroun)
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Michael Jordan is interested in building a golf course in Hobe Sound, near the Jupiter site where he is building a restaurant, reports said. (AP 1998 file photo/Bill Kostroun)(Palm Beach Post Staff Writer)

Who wouldn’t like a shot to hit a few balls with Jordan or Kobe?

Registration is open for the Jim Cleamons Celebrity Golf Classic and Charity Event set for Aug. 19 to 20 at NCR Country Club, 4435 Dogwood Trail in Kettering.

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Registrations for 2 to 8 players range from $750 to $5,000 for the event that will benefit Hoopology Camp — former NBA player and coach Jim Cleamons’ Columbus-based charity for student athlete development. 

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HEAR WHAT DAYTON DAILY NEWS COLUMNIST TOM ARCHDEACON SAID ABOUT LEBRON’S MOM

 

A list of of 40 athletes, including Michael Jordan, Jerry West, Phil Jackson, Scottie Pippen, Lenny Wilkens, Kobe Bryant, Willie Reed, Ross Browner and Dennis Hopson are expected to attend. 

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Members of the University of Dayton and the Ohio State University coaching staffs are also expected to participate, as is Archie Griffin, a former OSU and Cincinnati Bengal player. 

Ron Edwards, the event’s Dayton-based organizer, said a sponsorship registration is required for attendance.

“Unlike major golfing tournaments, this is a private event,” he told this news organization. “You can’t enter without (a team) sponsorship.”

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The presenting sponsor, albatross sponsor and eagle sponsor registration include entrance into a drawing to play with a pro or celebrity, an invitation to the event’s pairing party and auction and other benefits.

The birdie sponsor registration includes an invitation to the pairing party, but does not include the drawing.  

Find package details here. 

Edwards urges those interested in attending to visit the Hooplogy Camp website

Questions can also be emailed to ron@hoopologycamp.org.

Cleamons was an assistant basketball coach for the Chicago Bulls from 1989 until 1996 — during the “Jordan years” — and was the head coach of the Dallas Mavericks a year after that.  Cleamons was also an assistant coach for the Lakers during their 2000, 2001, 2002, 2009 and 2010 championship seasons.

>>RELATED: Who is Jim Cleamons? 

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