5 takeaways from the Ohio State football advanced stats preview

Published: Monday, July 09, 2018 @ 1:38 PM

Ohio State football interview: Nick Bosa

July 4 is in the rearview mirror, and that can only mean one thing: The return of football grows nearer. 

One of the best ways to pass the time before teams start taking the gridiron again is to read college football previews. 

We already dug into Phil Steele’s annual, but now another of our favorites is out: Bill Connelly’s advanced stats-based SBNation previews of every team in the FBS. 

Content Continues Below

Here are five takeaways from the Ohio State version

1. Ohio State is projected to be the best team in the country. 

Might as well cut to the chase, right? 

Besides, Buckeye fans (like everyone else) are more likely to keep reading if they know there’s a happy ending. 

The overall ranking, S&P+, has Ohio State projected ahead of defending national champion Alabama (and everyone else) thanks to the No. 2 offense in the country and the No. 10 defense. 

How bad could things be if they’re supposed to end up No. 1? 

There are some potential bumps in the road, but… 

2. The Buckeyes have at least a 60-percent chance of winning every week (except when they are not playing). 

Connelly projects win probability for every game, and that brings more good news for OSU: The Buckeyes have at least a 90-percent chance in seven of their games. 

Michigan is supposed to be loaded in Jim Harbaugh’s fourth season, but Ohio State has a 74-percent chance to win that game. 

What are the biggest challenges? 

They’ll come on the road against Penn State (60 percent) and Michigan State (65 percent).

These numbers are more optimistic than Vegas oddsmakers who set Ohio State’s over/under wins total at 9.5. SBN sees the Buckeyes winning 10 games by double digits. 

3. Would you rather be efficient or explosive? 

The rankings come down to a combination of the measure of those two things. 

(Think of S&P+ like OPS in baseball, measuring walks and singles along with extra-base hits separately then putting them together for a final number.) 

Some teams win because they get it done play to play while others do more of their damage in chunks and dare you to keep up. 

Either will work, but of course being good at both is preferable. 

Ohio State’s offense was extremely efficient last season with J.T. Barrett at quarterback. Big plays were less a feature of the attack, especially on passing downs, though they were far from absent. 

Barrett, of course, was a major factor in both cases, because he was an efficient runner and inconsistent passer. 

>>RELATED: The top 10 Ohio State quarterbacks ever

With drop-back passer Dwayne Haskins Jr. expected to replace Barrett at quarterback, Ohio State might be less efficient because Urban Meyer can’t just plunge his quarterback into the line on every third-and-1, but Haskins’ arm strength could lead to more explosive gains. 

That may show up most on passing downs when the windows to throw are smaller and extra zip on the fastball can really come in handy. 

4. Urban Meyer might want to work on his halftime speeches. 

Most coaches will tell you halftime adjustments are at least somewhat mythical, but the numbers show the Buckeyes were better on both sides of the ball before intermission last season. 

The offense was fourth in the country in the first and second quarters but dropped to 12th and 10th, respectively in the fourth (so not bad, mind you, but still not as good). 

The difference was larger for the defense, but it was also confined to the third quarter. The Silver Bullets were fourth in the country in defensive S&P+ in the first and second quarters and fifth in the fourth quarter but only 21st in the third. 

5. There’s an obvious way the defense could be even better than last season. 

Ohio State had the No. 8 defense in the country last season according to S&P+, and that started close to the line of scrimmage. 

The front four was as dominant to the numbers as it was to the eye, ranking first in the nation in “havoc rate” (a proprietary state measuring the percentage of plays in which a team either recorded a tackle for loss, forced a fumble, or defended a pass) from a defensive line. 

RELATED: The history of the Bengals drafting players from Ohio State

The linebackers, though, checked in No. 77 in the same category, so getting more disruptive plays from that unit (which will have at least two new starters) could provide a lift. 

The secondary (also two new starters) ranked 24th in havoc rate, so there is room for improvement there, too. 

Of course that defensive line lost some notable players, but the cupboard is far from bare as All-American defensive end Nick Bosa headlines what should be another formidable front. 
  

Trending - Most Read Stories

Reds end 36-year home run drought in All-Star Game

Published: Wednesday, July 18, 2018 @ 12:08 AM

Cincinnati Reds: All-Star Game history

In his first All-Star Game at-bat, Cincinnati Reds second baseman Scooter Gennett saved the National League — for one inning.

Gennett’s two-run home run in the bottom of the ninth tied the 89th All-Star Game at 5-5, but two Houston Astros, Alex Bregman and George Springer, hit back-to-back home runs in the 10th and the American League addded one more run to win 8-6 Tuesday at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C.

The AL has won six straight All-Star Games. Bregman was named the game’s MVP.

Content Continues Below

» POLL: Reds player named friendliest in baseball

Gennett’s home run was the third game-tying home run in the ninth inning or later and the first since Fred McGriff’s in 1994. The only other was hit by Ralph Kiner in 1950.

Gennett also became the first Red to hit a home run in the All-Star Game since Dave Concepcion in 1982.

With that streak over, Joey Votto hit a home run in the 10th inning to draw the National League within one run. That was Votto’s first hit in an All-Star Game. He was 0-for-12 in six games after starting this game 0-for-2.

» ALL-STAR COVERAGE: Schwarber falls in Home Run DerbyVotto praises interim manager Riggleman

An error by Votto almost cost the National League the game in the eighth inning.

Votto dropped a foul pop off the bat of the Seattle Mariners’ Jean Segura. It wasn’t the easiest play. Votto was about to run into the rail by the dugout. He still received an error.

» RELATED: Manfred says DH not coming to NL anytime soon

Segura hit the next pitch into the stands in left for a three-run home run, giving the American League a 5-2 lead.

Votto and another Reds All-Star, third baseman Eugenio Suarez, entered the game in the top of the sixth. This was the first All-Star Game for Suarez, who ranks second in the National League with 71 RBIs. In his first at-bat in the seventh inning, he was hit by a pitch. He struck out in the ninth.

           

Trending - Most Read Stories

British Open: 5 players who could win this week in Scotland

Published: Tuesday, July 17, 2018 @ 3:43 PM


            CARNOUSTIE, SCOTLAND - JULY 16: Tommy Fleetwood of England plays a shot during previews to the 147th Open Championship at Carnoustie Golf Club on July 16, 2018 in Carnoustie, Scotland. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
CARNOUSTIE, SCOTLAND - JULY 16: Tommy Fleetwood of England plays a shot during previews to the 147th Open Championship at Carnoustie Golf Club on July 16, 2018 in Carnoustie, Scotland. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

I’m going to change things up a bit as we tee up golf’s third major championship at Carnoustie Golf Links in Scotland this week.

Even though Dustin Johnson is the betting favorite to win The Open Championship, the world’s top-ranked player is not on my list.

»RELATED: Playoff chip-in sends Centerville native to U.S. Amateur at Pebble Beach

Content Continues Below

Johnson faded on the final day at Shinnecock Hills, and although his game seems to suit most courses on the PGA Tour, I’m going to look elsewhere for a winner.

Let’s start with the best player to never win a major — Rickie Fowler. Ye, he shot an 84 in the third round at the U.S. Open, but he still finished 20th and he warmed up with a top-10 finish last week in the Scottish Open.

Speaking of the last major, Tommy Fleetwood almost stole the U.S. Open with a remarkable 63 on the final day. The Englishman will be in the hunt on Sunday.

»RELATED: Wenzler fires 62, set to make PGA Tour debuit

Here’s one that might be off the radar a bit. Tony Finau owns top-10 finishes in both the Masters and the U.S. Open this year. He makes a lot of birdies and that’s never a bad thing.

Henrik Stenson won with a record 20-under par total two years ago at Royal Troon. That alone gives him a chance to do some damage at Carnoustie.

And finally, Justin Rose is going to win another major sooner than later, although his best finish the Open was the first one he played back in 1998 as an amateur — a tie for fourth.

Jordan Spieth is the defending champion and is listed at 18-1. Tiger Woods is right behind at 20-1 on the betting sheet with Phil Mickelson at 40-1.

Trending - Most Read Stories

Michigan football sending local alumnus to Big Ten Football Media Days

Published: Tuesday, July 17, 2018 @ 10:15 AM

ANN ARBOR, MI - SEPTEMBER 9: Tyree Kinnel #23 of the Michigan Wolverines intercepts the ball and scores a first quarter touchdown as Mike Boone #5 of the Cincinnati Bearcats gives chase at Michigan Stadium on September 9, 2017 in Ann Arbor, Michigan.(Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
Leon Halip/Getty Images
ANN ARBOR, MI - SEPTEMBER 9: Tyree Kinnel #23 of the Michigan Wolverines intercepts the ball and scores a first quarter touchdown as Mike Boone #5 of the Cincinnati Bearcats gives chase at Michigan Stadium on September 9, 2017 in Ann Arbor, Michigan.(Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)(Leon Halip/Getty Images)

Looks like Michigan football will count a player from the Miami Valley to be among its senior leaders on defense for the second year in a row. 

At least that’s one thing that can be gleaned from Tyree Kinnel being among the Wolverines’ representatives at Big Ten Media Days in Chicago next week. 

Kinnel, a fourth-year player from Wayne High School, earned All-Big Ten honorable mention last season when he had 70 tackles, including 5.5 for loss, and defended nine passes. 

Content Continues Below

The 5-foot-11, 201-pound safety was named the team’s most improved player on defense for his efforts. 

Joining him in Chicago will be running back Karan Higdon and defensive end Chase Winovich. 

Ohio State will be represented by receiver Parris Campbell, defensive lineman Dre’Mont Jones and offensive lineman Isaiah Prince. 

Last year, Mike McCray II was among the prominent faces of the Michigan defense. 

After wrapping up his career at Michigan, Trotwood-Madison grad Mike McCray II laid out his goals for pro football and beyond. Plus an update on his father’s status as an Ohio State fan. The elder McCray was a Buckeye

The senior linebacker from Trotwood-Madison was the only returning starter. 

He was eventually named captain, a distinction his father, Mike McCray Sr., held at Ohio State in the 1980s. 

Trending - Most Read Stories

Scoochie Smith weighing his options after strong performance in NBA Summer League

Published: Tuesday, July 17, 2018 @ 5:08 PM

LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 15:  Scoochie Smith #12 of the Cleveland Cavaliers drives between Giddy Potts #20 and Rawle Alkins #1 of the Toronto Raptors during a quarterfinal game of the 2018 NBA Summer League at the Thomas & Mack Center on July 15, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Cavaliers defeated the Raptors 82-68. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Ethan Miller/Getty Images
LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 15: Scoochie Smith #12 of the Cleveland Cavaliers drives between Giddy Potts #20 and Rawle Alkins #1 of the Toronto Raptors during a quarterfinal game of the 2018 NBA Summer League at the Thomas & Mack Center on July 15, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Cavaliers defeated the Raptors 82-68. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)(Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Former Dayton Flyers point guard Scoochie Smith always felt he could play in the NBA. He showed he deserves a chance with his performance in the NBA Summer League.

Smith spoke to the Dayton Daily News on the phone from Las Vegas, Nev., on Tuesday as he prepared to leave town after playing seven games in 11 days with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

While Smith had confidence about his ability to play at the next level, he said, “Sometimes you’ve got to reassure the people. That’s what happened.”

Content Continues Below

» ALUMNI NEWS: Bonsu finds job in NBA

Smith earned an invitation to training camp with the Cavaliers and said while he would probably accept it, he hasn’t made up his mind yet. He’s keeping his options open in case other teams express interest in him.

Smith averaged 8.3 points, 2.3 rebounds and 3.0 assists in 16.9 minutes per game in Las Vegas. His role grew as the Cavaliers advanced past the preliminary round into the Summer League tournament.

Smith, who finished his Dayton career with 1,289 points in 2017 and ranks 28th in school history, said he learned to be more aggressive and stay in attack mode.

“I think that will help me a lot,” he said.

In a 112-109 double-overtime loss to the Lakers on Monday in the semifinals, Smith had 14 points, five rebounds and a team-high five assists in 27 minutes. He made 4 of 12 shots from the field.

» OFFSEASON FEATURES: Donnie JonesJosh CunninghamTrey LandersRyan Mikesell

Smith’s best performance came Saturday in the second round of the tournament. He scored 15 of his 17 points in the last seven minutes in a 92-87 victory over the Houston Rockets.

“I was just waiting on my moment,” Smith said. “I was fortunate enough it came during that Houston game, not right at the end of the tournament. I still got to showcase some more.”

Smith said the Cavaliers were happy with his play, and he thought they were maybe a little surprised by how well he performed.

“I think they learned a lot about me,” he said.

» RECRUITING: Dayton among the teams pursuing Xenia senior

This was Smith’s second experience in the Summer League. He played with the Boston Celtics in the Summer League a year ago but saw limited playing time.

“They drafted about four guys, so it was kind of tough for me to find an opportunity,” Smith said. “Staying positive and doing what I did in my first year (in pro basketball) helped me get the opportunity this week.”

Smith started his professional career last year in Australia and played in 27 games for the Cairns Taipans, averaging 10.2 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game.

Smith then returned to Ohio to play for the Canton Charge, the Cavaliers’ affiliate in the NBA G-League. He averaged 14.3 points, 8.1 assists and 4.3 rebounds. He shot 51.9 percent from the floor and 52.3 percent from 3-point range. He had his best game — 26 points and 10 assists — in the final game March 23.

Trending - Most Read Stories