September 30, 2019 | | Post a Comment

During warmups prior to Tuesday night’s Houston Rockets game, center Dwight Howard and Rockets mascot Clutch the Bear had an unofficial contest to see who could be the first to hit an over-the-back halfcourt shot, with Clutch pulling off the surprise upset.Howard could probably use his warmup time more productively by focusing on his free-throw shooting, but he didn’t need to for this game against the Boston Celtics. Howard compiled another double-double of 10 points and 11 boards helping the Rockets open the game on an 18-1 run and had a 40-18 lead after the first quarter, improving to 8-4 on the season.The Rockets have won three in a row after Tuesday’s 109-85 defeat of the Boston Celtics. read more

September 30, 2019 | | Post a Comment

Tiger Woods, the golfer who lives for major championships and who is on a quest to topple Jack Nicklaus’ record victories, will miss his second consecutive major this year. The U.S. Open at Pinehurst is out for Woods.His surgically repaired back has not recovered enough for him to compete in next month’s event in two weeks, a blow to Woods and his ambition to increase from 14 his number of major championship victories. Nicklaus has 18.“Unfortunately, I won’t be there because I’m not yet physically able to play competitive golf,” Woods said via his website. It’s the sixth major he will be sidelined due to injury. “I’d like to convey my regrets to the USGA leadership, the volunteers and the fans that I won’t be at Pinehurst.“The U.S. Open is very important to me and I know it’s going to be a great week. Despite missing the first two majors, and several other important tournaments, I remain very optimistic about this year and my future.”Woods has not played since the WGC-Cadillac Championship on March 9. He had surgery to alleviate a pinched nerve in his back on March 31, causing him to miss the Masters for the first time in his career.Since winning the 2008 U.S. Open — the last of his 14 major titles — Woods has missed four other majors, two that year following knee surgery, and two in 2011 after knee and Achilles injuries.With his inactivity, Woods has dropped to No. 3 in the world behind Adam Scott and Henrik Stenson.Last week at the Quicken Loans National media day, Woods gave no indication of a return to the PGA Tour.“There’s no date, there’s no timetable, just taking it day by day and just focusing on trying to get stronger and come back,” he said at the Congressional Country Club on May 19. “I want to play today, but that’s just not going to happen. So just taking it step by step.”The Quicken Loans Tournament benefits the Tiger Woods Foundation, and it is just two weeks after the U.S. Open. The Open Championship at Royal Liverpool — where Woods won in 2006 — is five weeks after the U.S. Open.Woods called Nicklaus on Wednesday morning to express his regrets over not being able to compete at this week’s Memorial Tournament, hosted by Nicklaus, which Woods has won five times.“It was a very, very nice call, wishing me well [with] the tournament, sorry he couldn’t be here,” Nicklaus said. “He said he’s doing well, progressing well, and he’s looking forward to getting back into the game. He misses it.” read more

September 29, 2019 | | Post a Comment

More: Apple Podcasts | ESPN App | RSS | Embed FiveThirtyEight Embed Code It only took 108 years, but our sports podcast Hot Takedown finally got to discuss a Chicago Cubs World Series win. We break down the strange managerial decisions in Game 7, discuss whether this year’s Cubs or the 2004 Boston Red Sox are Theo Epstein’s crowning achievement, and FiveThirtyEight’s Oliver Roeder joins us to discuss the legacy of this year’s Cubs team.

September 29, 2019 | | Post a Comment

Ivica Zubac00002020-1.9+2.30.4 Paul George014022036+2.9+1.54.4 PLAYERPGSGSFPFCTOTALOFF. +/-DEF. +/-TOT. +/- Jerome Robinson021003-0.4-0.9-1.3 Mfiondu Kabengele000459-2.4+0.4-2.0 Maurice Harkless00711018-0.8+1.30.5 Expected wins:59.0 9Thunder+1.1+2.2+3.149.51587 Kawhi’s Clippers should be among the West’s bestProjected full-strength regular-season depth chart for the 2019-20 Los Angeles Clippers, based on CARMELO plus/minus ratings Jerome Robinson0460010-0.4-0.9-1.3 Lou Williams12900021+2.4-3.3-0.9 Montrezl Harrell00032427+0.7+0.61.3 The new-look Philadelphia 76ers check in as the league’s most talented team, though the Houston Rockets (remember them?) aren’t far behind — assuming they aren’t torpedoed by their reported chemistry problems. The Clippers are firmly in the next tier of teams, those projected for roughly between 52 and 55 wins of talent, a group that also includes the Lakers, Warriors (remember them?), Bucks, Nuggets and Jazz.There are also reasons to think that the numbers above are underrating the Clippers’ true power.We’ll put aside questions about whether Los Angeles will really have a barely average defense — the metrics have disagreed with the eye test for years about the quality of Kawhi’s D — and instead focus on what might make these Clippers more formidable in the playoffs. For starters, we’ve added a new feature to CARMELO that accounts for players who routinely improve in the playoffs, and Leonard’s rating gets a major shot in the arm in that regard. Plus, many of the low-rated Clippers in the depth chart above see their minutes fall off in our playoff projection, rewarding L.A. more than most for having an extremely solid top seven in their rotation. Check out how many of their poorly rated players (in pink) see a major drop-off in minutes for the team’s full-strength playoff depth chart: Rodney McGruder6230011-1.1-1.2-2.3 Team total Team total 8Jazz+1.4+3.0+4.352.31615 Landry Shamet02090029+2.0-1.50.6 Rodney McGruder11400015-1.1-1.2-2.3 176ers+2.5+5.2+7.660.01700 Landry Shamet01690025+2.1-1.50.6 Ivica Zubac00002121-1.9+2.30.4 CARMELO’s way-too-early 2020 regular-season rankingsFull-strength regular-season rankings for the Top 10 2019-20 NBA teams according to FiveThirtyEight’s CARMELO player projections and current depth charts 240+6.4+1.07.4 7Nuggets+3.9+0.6+4.552.61618 Patrick Beverley25000025+0.7+0.31.0 3Lakers+1.8+3.6+5.554.91643 10Pelicans-0.1+2.7+2.648.01572 6Clippers+4.6+0.6+5.354.21635 Terance Mann014005-1.7-0.6-2.3 4Warriors+2.7+2.6+5.354.51639 Dear NBA Diary,Well, so much for the speculation that Kawhi Leonard would join the Los Angeles Lakers (or stay with the Toronto Raptors). After the Los Angeles Clippers stunned the NBA by signing Leonard and trading a massive haul of picks for Paul George, everybody is still trying to figure out exactly what just happened to the NBA in the wee hours of Saturday morning.For starters, the Clippers vaulted themselves into the championship conversation thanks to the superstar combination of Leonard and George, plus the solid group of complementary players L.A. mostly retained around them. Here’s what our CARMELO projections (and depth-chart algorithm) think of their full-strength regular-season roster: EXPECTED MINUTES PER GAMEPLAYER RATING Montrezl Harrell00012223+0.8+0.71.4 Team ratings have not yet been rescaled to account for an average offensive and defensive rating of 0.0. Lou Williams17700024+2.3-3.4-1.1 The better Clippers should play a lot more in the playoffsProjected full-strength playoff depth chart for the 2019-20 Los Angeles Clippers, based on CARMELO plus/minus ratings Paul George017915041+2.9+1.54.4 CARMELO thinks the Clippers will go from giving 60 of their 240 minutes per game to negative (below-average) players during the regular season to 42 during the playoffs, which means the Clippers will be rolling out at least four above-average players most of the time in the games that matter the most.That still isn’t enough to make them West favorites in the system’s eyes, but the Clippers are now solidly in the discussion — and give or take a few moments of peak Lob City hype, that hasn’t been true for this franchise basically ever before. Patrick Beverley25000025+0.6+0.30.9 240+4.6+0.65.3 That projected CARMELO rating of 1635 would be good for about 54 wins per 82 games, and it ranks sixth in the NBA. On the one hand, that’s a huge improvement over last season, when the Clippers finished with a 1496 CARMELO that ranked 17th in the league. Then again, it also might sound underwhelming compared with early reports that Vegas bookmakers had shifted their odds to make the Clippers 2020 NBA championship favorites.But in terms of regular-season projections (using full-strength rosters),1But excluding players such as Kevin Durant who are known to be injured for all or most of the 2019-20 regular season. things are just very wide-open at the top of the league right now: 2Rockets+5.5+2.2+7.859.81698 Expected wins:54.2 CARMELO team rating:1688 Terance Mann000000-1.7-0.6-2.3 PLAYERPGSGSFPFCTOTALOFF. +/-DEF. +/-TOT. +/- 5Bucks+2.1+3.2+5.354.51638 EXPECTED MINUTES PER GAMEPLAYER RATING Keep track of the chaotic NBA offseason with our Free Agency Diary. Kawhi Leonard002210032+2.7+0.43.2 Mfiondu Kabengele000044-2.4+0.4-2.0 Kawhi Leonard002413037+3.2+0.94.0 RkTeamOFF. +/-DEF. +/-TOTal +/-Exp. WinsCARMELO Maurice Harkless00217019-0.9+1.20.3 CARMELO team rating:1635 read more

September 28, 2019 | | Post a Comment

INDIANAPOLIS — If there’s one thing that’s become almost painstakingly clear about the Indiana Pacers this season, it’s that they’re an acquired taste among basketball fans.Unless you’re from the state of Indiana, chances are you’re not going to find this club all that sexy. In a league flush with pace, dunks and threes, the Pacers rank near the bottom in all three. Their franchise player, high-flying All-Star Victor Oladipo, went down with a devastating, season-ending injury in January, supposedly ruining whatever chance the club had of making a deep playoff run — if it could even finish the job and reach the postseason to begin with.But focusing on what the Pacers don’t have, or won’t accomplish, might make you miss something important: Indiana possesses perhaps more grit than any NBA team.Of course there are two concerns with a statement like that. First, as numbers-heavy as we are at this site, we couldn’t quite come up with anything to measure the Pacers’ heart (although we pieced together a number of things to make a solid argument). Second, and perhaps more important for the time being: For all the heart Indiana possesses, looking at the team’s recent results might lead you to believe the struggling team is on life support.Before their home win here over the Pistons on Monday night, the Pacers had lost seven of their past eight and were coming off a dismal 4-10 record in March, by far their worst month of the campaign. They’ll head into Detroit on Wednesday in the midst of a 10-game road-losing streak — concerning for a team in danger of falling to the fifth seed and losing home-court advantage in the first round.Aside from a much tougher schedule lately (of those 10-straight road defeats, nine have come to teams that will make the playoffs),1This rationale might comfort Pacers fans. But if Indiana can’t beat playoff-caliber teams on the road anymore, that probably speaks volumes about the team’s prospects of making it out of a second-round series, if it even gets that far. Indiana has struggled to generate consistent offense in Oladipo’s absence. The team logged just 106.5 points per 100 possessions during the month of March, the league’s fourth-worst scoring attack during that span, according to NBA Advanced Stats.More and more, the Pacers’ hardscrabble offense has been putting too much pressure on the team’s third-ranked defense. Before Oladipo’s injury ended his season, Indiana was 16-12 when giving up 100 points or more. But since he left the lineup, and the team’s margin for error shrank immeasurably, the Pacers have gone just 6-17 when surrendering 100 or more.Understandably, the team was a mess immediately after Oladipo’s injury, which required him to be carried off on a stretcher before the home crowd. General manager Kevin Pritchard gave an emotional rallying cry in the locker room after the game, reminding the players that they’d gone 7-4 without Oladipo already this season (as opposed to 0-7 the season before) and were still 5 points per 100 possessions better than their opponents with him off the floor. But that didn’t stop Indiana from falling into a season-worst four-game skid. Adjustments were needed.“It’s a totally different thing to play those 11 games without him when you know in the back of your mind that you’re going to get him back healthy,” coach Nate McMillan said of Oladipo, who was also an All-NBA defender. “But after the injury, we knew he wasn’t coming back. So we had to change everything [in our offense] and hit the reset button.”That meant shifting from a relatively open system — one that often encouraged players (especially Oladipo) to take midrange shots if opponents sagged off — to one that’s more heavily synchronized. Indiana has tripled its number of ball screens for Bojan Bogdanovic,2Since February, Bogdanovic has gotten a ball screen 12.7 times per 100 possessions — up from just 4.2 per 100 possessions prior to Oladipo’s injury, according to data from Second Spectrum. giving him a downhill advantage to set up open teammates if and when defenses collapse into the paint.With more playmaking responsibilities, Bogdanovic has upped his scoring average from 16 points before the Oladipo injury to almost 22 per game since then. He and Wes Matthews, who signed with the Pacers after being bought out following the trade deadline, have replaced the vast majority of Oladipo’s shot attempts. Thaddeus Young’s play has been noteworthy, too, as he has basically doubled his assist average since Oladipo went down. All three players factored into Indiana turning things around in February, winning eight of nine — albeit against suspect competition.Effort has been one of Indiana’s defining traits, both this season and in previous years. After posting that 0-7 mark without Oladipo in 2017-18, the Pacers now stand 21-21 in games without their star this season. They’re highly physical, almost always preferring to fight through screens as opposed to switching on defense, like most teams do. They dive on the floor for extra possessions and rank near the top in recovering loose balls on D. And they’ve developed an attitude that suggests that no deficit is too big for them to overcome. In one of their best wins of the season, the Pacers rallied from 19 down last month to beat ex-Indiana star Paul George and the Thunder. It marked a league-high 19th time over the past three seasons that Indiana had come back to win a game it once trailed by 15 points or more, according to ESPN’s Stats & Information Group.But the struggles over the past month and change have illustrated that effort, which these Pacers are built on, can take you only so far — especially now that Indiana’s foes are bona fide playoff clubs again.“When you’re struggling offensively, it’s hard to grind on these guys and yell, ‘C’mon guys: Keep guarding! Get your intensity up!’ when you can just see their confidence oozing out of them and slipping away with each missed shot,” Pacers assistant coach Dan Burke told me.Put another way: At a certain point, you can only get so much defense out of a team that isn’t producing anything on offense.That isn’t to suggest there isn’t talent on the roster, because there is. It just hasn’t been reliable from top to bottom. Take the two biggest acquisitions from last summer: Tyreke Evans and Doug McDermott. Evans, who figured to be an enormous insurance policy as a ball-handler in case anything happened to Oladipo, has been the NBA’s worst finisher at the rim.3Literally the worst. Out of the 85 players who have taken at least 250 shots from the restricted area, Evans — at 45.7 percent — is the only one shooting worse than 50 percent. And while McDermott has been fine, he’s had unusually wild shooting swings, depending on whether he’s playing at home (just over 30 percent from 3-point range) or on the road (where he’s slightly better than 48 percent from 3-point range).Indiana uses cutters better than most teams. But the Pacers are often slow to identify the mismatches they have when opposing defenses counter their screen-and-roll action with a switch. In fact, no team generates less efficient offense than the Pacers (who score a minuscule 0.81 points per possession) do when getting a switch, according to data from Second Spectrum.Video Playerhttps://fivethirtyeight.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/SWITCHES.mp400:0000:0001:38Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.And as you might guess, crunch-time offense has often been a struggle for Indiana, one of a handful of teams to average less than 1 point per possession in those scenarios since Oladipo’s injury.There are obviously plenty of things the Pacers do well, and they still somehow have an outside chance of reaching the 50-win mark. Domantas Sabonis has become one of the NBA’s most efficient bench scorers. Indy shoots very well from three; they simply don’t take many (29th in attempt rate). Yet the team’s bread and butter is its defense, where players like Young and block machine Myles Turner (both of whom deserve All-Defensive Team consideration)4And in Turner’s case, Defensive Player of the Year consideration. frequently force opponents into mistakes. Indiana has occasional breakdowns, too, of course. But the fact remains that the Pacers usually keep themselves in games on that end of the floor.Whether their defense will keep them in the playoffs for long is a separate question. But even if it doesn’t, we can rest assured that the Pacers — warts and all — will leave whatever they’ve got on the court.Check out our latest NBA predictions. read more

September 28, 2019 | | Post a Comment

OSU redshirt freshman defensive end Sam Hubbard (6) defends during a game against Western Michigan on Sept. 26 at Ohio Stadium. OSU 38-12. Credit: Samantha Hollingshead / Photo EditorYesterday, The Lantern began its two-part examination of what Ohio State’s starting lineups might look like during the 2016 season after an unprecedented amount of talent depart due to graduation or the NFL draft, which included 16 of 22 starters — eight on offense and eight on defense.The three offensive starters returning — redshirt junior quarterback J.T. Barrett, redshirt senior guard-turned-center Pat Elflein and redshirt junior guard Billy Price — will have to quickly integrate with the large number of offensive weapons asked to step up in a big way to keep the powerhouse program afloat.The same will have to be done on defense, which was often considered the bread and butter of coach Urban Meyer’s 2015 squad. The three returning starters there — junior linebacker Raekwon McMillan, redshirt junior cornerback Gareon Conley and redshirt junior defensive end Tyquan Lewis — started all 13 games in 2015. However, beyond that trio the projected starters next season ranged from players splitting snaps to seeing limited playing time to being in high school in 2015.Here is an early glance at OSU’s defense as it turns the page on the next era of talent.On the lineThe players occupying the two ends of the front four seems obvious enough, with Lewis returning to one end and redshirt sophomore Sam Hubbard, who was a key contributor off the bench in 2015 with 6.5 sacks, on the other.Hubbard will be asked to fill the shoes of Joey Bosa, though Hubbard actually registered 1.5 more sacks than the consensus top-10 pick.Almost as important as filling Bosa’s spot with Hubbard, however, is filling Hubbard’s role of picking up snaps on both end positions on the line when a starter gets a breather. The likeliest candidate for that job seems to be junior Jalyn Holmes, who received an extended look in the Fiesta Bowl against Notre Dame after Bosa’s early ejection.Things get murkier up the middle, however. Both starters there, Adolphus Washington and Tommy Schutt, were lost to graduation, with not a ton of strong options waiting in the wings.Redshirt junior Michael Hill started a few games in 2015 that Schutt missed with various injuries, so it is reasonable to think he will step into a full-time role next year.But Meyer might have to get creative for the other spot in the interior. It is possible that lower-ceiling players like redshirt sophomore Donovan Munger or redshirt junior Tracy Sprinkle could get the early nods as a placeholder, but don’t be surprised to see Meyer turn to a true freshman to occupy the role.Malik Barrow, a four-star recruit from Tampa, Florida, could be ready to step up from Day 1 if he performs well in spring and fall practice. Fellow Floridian Nick Bosa, the younger brother of Joey, is also a possibility. Recruited as a defensive end, some have thought the five-star recruit could project as a defensive tackle. The hitch with him is that he is recovering from a torn ACL suffered during his final year of high school, so health could hold him back from playing right away.In the middleAs one of the few returning starters, combined with his natural leadership role of the Mike linebacker, McMillan will be the unquestioned captain of the defense. There is a very strong possibility that his junior season will be his final one in college, so another strong season from the Hinesville, Georgia, product, who led the team with 119 tackles in 2015, should be expected.The other two starting linebacker spots, however, are not so easy to figure out.Expect one of them to go to redshirt junior Chris Worley, who would have likely been a starter each of the last two years had he not been beaten out before the 2014 season by the now-departed Darron Lee.The third seems to be an absolute toss-up. Junior Dante Booker and sophomore Jerome Baker could certainly be considered the favorites when camp opens, but a name to keep an eye on is redshirt freshman Nick Conner.Conner broke out with a very strong performance during the 2015 spring game, leading many to believe he could play a significant role as a true freshman. While a knee injury ended his hopes of contributing in 2015, Meyer has made it clear how much he likes the product of nearby Dublin Scioto High School.While Conner’s future will likely lie with inheriting McMillan’s Mike linebacker job, he could get an early head start should he be granted the outside or strong-side linebacker position in 2016.In the backAs with the first two defensive groups, the secondary features one returning starter in Conley. This unit arguably features more talent loss than any other, with safeties Vonn Bell and Tyvis Powell and top cornerback Eli Apple saying goodbye with eligibility remaining.Opposite Conley at the cornerback position should be junior Damon Webb, who saw snaps in seven games as OSU’s nickelback in passing situations.Occupying Webb’s former role as the third corner, therefore, is up for grabs. Redshirt sophomore Marshon Lattimore is probably the leading candidate for the job, but sophomore Denzel Ward, who took the familiar Meyer route of getting his feet wet on special teams, could be keyed in on for a bigger role.The safety spots should be occupied by redshirt sophomore Malik Hooker and redshirt junior Cam Burrows, simply by process of elimination of the thinnest position on the team.Unless Webb or Ward shift from cornerback to safety, those two are really the only candidates on the roster with any experience. Hooker appeared in each game in some capacity in 2015, while Burrows was ahead of him on the depth chart before suffering a season-ending foot injury midway through the year.That projection, however, hinges on the health of junior Erick Smith, who should have a starting spot with his name on it should he recover fully from a torn ACL suffered in early November. But ACL injuries are no joke when it comes to both getting healthy and regaining effectiveness, so it’s a big question mark if Smith will be able to step into a large role when the season begins on Sept. 3 against Bowling Green. read more

September 28, 2019 | | Post a Comment
September 28, 2019 | | Post a Comment

I have never, not once, managed to sit through an entire baseball game from first inning to last. Halfway through most games, I either get too fidgety to stay, the heat drives me out or whoever I am at the game with wants to leave early (which I never argue with).That being said, I sat through the Columbus Clippers game on Monday from start to finish for the entire three plus hour affair, and it was not only hot, but rainy as well, but making it to the end was gratifying.Before the game, I met with Joe Santry, media relations for the Clippers but also the historian for the team, who shared with me that many road names surrounding campus and Columbus (including the road I live on) are named after Clippers players. Neil. Chittenden. Those names sound familiar?The Clippers are part of Columbus history, and not just as a baseball team. The name hanging above the stadium isn’t just a sponsor. Huntington used to be one of the worst baseball players on the team, and after a season where he didn’t have a single hit recorded (or one that lasted the records this long), he was told not to quit his day job, which so happened to be a bank teller.While I would have chosen a cooler day (one where my shoulders weren’t burned by the end) and the random raining wasn’t ideal, it still was worth it to know the history behind the Clippers, the stadium and the relationship the team has with the city.The only way the game could have been better: a hot dog. read more

September 28, 2019 | | Post a Comment

With cameras raised and the volume so low you could hear a pin drop, Ohio State senior Peter Kobelt stepped up to the line to serve for match point against Northwestern’s senior Raleigh Smith.It seemed routine, as Kobelt has sealed so many matches for the OSU men’s tennis team this season. But this meant so much more than any other match.He lofted the ball up and, with one powerful swing, rocketed his serve at Smith, who could barely get a racket on it. Smith’s return barely made it over the net and Kobelt knew exactly what to do with it. He fired into the corner of the court for the win, secure the match and history for the Buckeyes.Kobelt had just sealed the deal to complete OSU’s 185th consecutive home win. That’s more than any other team in any other sport in the history of the NCAA.One hundred eighty-five straight.If the magnitude of that many wins doesn’t sink in, then consider this: The beginning of the streak started with a 5-2 win over Purdue on April 5, 2003.That’s 4,104 days ago.At that time, “Finding Nemo” and “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl” were some of the top-grossing movies at the box office and “In Da Club” by 50 Cent and “Ignition (Remix)” by R. Kelly were the top songs on the radio. Do you feel old yet?Dominance like that over a nearly 11-year span is beyond impressive. Dominance might even be too light of a term to describe the run. When it comes to the Buckeyes playing at the Varsity Tennis Center, perfection seems like a more appropriate word.In the sports world, teams don’t just stay good like this, but the Buckeyes have proven to be magical in Columbus.The Super Bowl champions when this streak started were the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Since then, the Buccaneers have had four different coaches and have become the bottom-dwellers of the NFC South.Roger Federer, arguably the greatest tennis player of all time, had not yet won a Grand Slam title when the Buckeyes began their streak. He now has the most ever with 17.Over a decade, this remarkable winning streak has seen its way through the invention of the smartphone, three presidential elections and inflation of gas prices (it was $1.49 per gallon in Ohio in April 2003).The Buckeyes have fielded 10 All-Americans during the streak, including having at least one each season since 2004. They also have had a doubles national championship in 2012 (Chase Buchanan and Blaz Rola) and a singles champion in 2013 (Rola).Kobelt is the only All-American on the roster now, but one man who has been at every win throughout the streak is head coach Ty Tucker.Playing at Ohio State from 1989-91, Tucker was a two-time All-American before going pro in 1992.He returned to Ohio State as an assistant coach in 1995 and became head coach in 1999. Since then he has turned the Buckeyes into a national power and Kobelt referred to this streak as “his baby.”After beating Illinois Sunday, the Buckeyes only have three more opponents left on their 2014 home slate in Tulsa, Iowa and Nebraska. As the No. 2 team in the nation, though, it is likely they will host a regional for the NCAA tournament to try and add on even more wins to the streak.With Kobelt being the lone senior on the team, the future still looks bright for OSU with younger members of the roster looking to extend dominance the Buckeyes have managed so far in Columbus.The Buckeyes (21-2, 6-0) are next scheduled to play at Minnesota Friday at 3 p.m. read more

September 28, 2019 | | Post a Comment

OSU players sing “Carmen Ohio” following a 34-17 win against Navy at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore on Aug. 30.Credit: Mark Batke / Photo editorThe Ohio State football team entered its season-opener against Navy on Saturday with a plethora of question marks throughout the team. The depth chart was filled with listings of one player “or” another set to start, and a redshirt-freshman quarterback was set to be under center for the first time as a Buckeye.While not every question was answered in the game, The Lantern’s sports editors picked five key takeaways from the Buckeyes’ 34-17 victory at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.1. There won’t be an “or” at quarterback on OSU’s next depth chartComing into the game against Navy, there was still some speculation as to whether redshirt-sophomore quarterback Cardale Jones would replace Barrett for any amount of time against Navy.Before the game, OSU coach Urban Meyer said there was no set plan for that to happen, but left the door open for a possible Jones appearance despite the fact that Barrett was listed as the only starter under center.On Saturday, Barrett played the entire game and gave the coaches no glaring reason to pull him. The Wichita Falls, Texas, native completed 12 of 15 pass attempts — including at least one drop — and threw two touchdowns and one interception. The pick, which came in the red zone, was the only clear mistake Barrett made throughout the game.While he still wasn’t — and never will be ­— the runner that senior quarterback Braxton Miller is, Barrett still managed to lead the Buckeyes with 50 yards on the ground.He wasn’t asked to do a lot, but for all intents and purposes, Barrett passed his first test with flying colors.2. Offensive line partially sorted out, but still a red flagSpeaking of question marks on the depth chart, there might not be a position group with more unknowns than the offensive line.On the depth chart released by OSU before the Navy game, only three of the five offensive line positions had a set starter listed. Junior Taylor Decker, redshirt-sophomore Pat Elflein and redshirt-senior Darryl Baldwin were set to get the starting nod at left tackle, right guard and right tackle, respectively.All three did end up starting, although Elflein was moved over to left guard while redshirt-freshman Billy Price started at right guard. Junior Jacoby Boren started at center and played the vast majority of the game for OSU.It looks like Boren will have that spot locked down going forward, but Price and senior Joel Hale rotated during the game at the second guard position after Price struggled early. It could be argued that Hale had the better overall day, and you can look for both to continue fighting for playing time the rest of the season.Even if the line is sorted out in the coming weeks, it’ll have to improve — Meyer said he was “very disappointed” by its performance against Navy.3. Young Buckeye backs impressed in debutsReplacing a 1,000-yard rusher at running back is never easy, but a few young Buckeyes proved they can handle the football in their hands.Freshman running back Curtis Samuel showed he can handle the pressures of major college football as he recorded 45 yards on seven carries in his Buckeye debut.Redshirt-freshman H-back Jalin Marshall showed why he has been pushing sophomore H-back Dontre Wilson for touches against Navy as he showed explosiveness on a few outside runs. Ultimately though, Wilson proved he is still deserving of a starting job as he led the Buckeyes in yards per carry (7.2) against Navy as he finished with 43 yards rushing to go along with another 46 yards receiving. Sophomore running back Ezekiel Elliot did not have a big day, but he did account for OSU’s only rushing score as he amassed 44 yards on 12 carries in the Buckeye win.  4. OSU kickers will likely split dutiesFreshman kicker Sean Nuernberger accounted for all of OSU’s first half points against Navy as he converted on field goal attempts of 46 yards and 28 yards in his first college appearance. Redshirt-senior kicker Kyle Clinton however, assumed the kickoff duties for the Buckeyes but did not exactly impress, booting one kick out of bounds, resulting in a penalty. Despite that, it appears the two kickers will continue to split duties barring an injury or poor performances from one or the other. 5. ‘Silver Bullet’ secondary remains untested As expected, the Navy offense did not attempt the throw the ball much against the Buckeye defense, completing two of just four pass attempts in the 34-17 loss to OSU. Entering Saturday, the Buckeye defense will be up against a much more traditional offense as Virginia Tech comes to Columbus.The Hokie offense is led by Texas Tech transfer quarterback Michael Brewer who, in his first start for Virginia Tech, threw for 251 yards on 23 of 30 passing attempts. Needless to say, the OSU secondary that struggled mightily in 2013 will face its first real test Saturday. The Buckeye secondary, which returns only one starter from 2013 in senior cornerback Doran Grant, will play in front of its home fans for the first time in 2014 when it takes on Virginia Tech at Ohio Stadium on Saturday. Kickoff is scheduled for 8 p.m. read more