Bears

NCAA recap: Huskies win sixth straight; Redbirds prevail

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NCAA recap: Huskies win sixth straight; Redbirds prevail

Lynch, Northern Illinois rout Buffalo

DEKALB -- Jordan Lynch ran for a pair of first-half touchdowns and threw two scoring passes in the second half as Northern Illinois rolled to a 45-3 victory over Buffalo on Saturday.

Northern Illinois (6-1, 3-0 Mid-American) got 129 yards on the ground from Lynch, and he completed 13 of 20 passes for 232 yards. Martel Moore caught 8 passes for 133 yards and a TD.

Buffalo (1-5, 0-3) was pressured by the Northern Illinois defense most of the day. Northern Illinois intercepted Alex Zordich on two occasions and sacked him twice.

Devon Hughes caught 9 passes for 105 yards for Buffalo.

Box score Complete recap

Brown, Redbirds take down Youngstown State

NORMAL -- Matt Brown threw for 3 touchdowns and ran for one more as Illinois State made a comeback to beat Youngstown State 35-28 on Saturday afternoon.

Brown was 20 of 31 passing for 225 yards, including a 16-yard pass to Donovan Harden. Brown scored on a 1-yard run in the fourth for the Redbirds. He also threw touchdown passes to Lechein Neblett and Tyrone Walker. Brown was 20 of 31 for 225 passing yards.

Jamaine Cook put the Penguins on the scoreboard first with a 7-yard run. He had two more touchdowns, including a 14-yard run, keeping Youngstown out in front of Illinois State (6-1, 3-1 Missouri Valley Conference). Cook had 30 carries for 177 rushing yards.

Youngstown State had a 28-7 lead in the second quarter. The Redbirds came back, scoring 28 consecutive points and keeping Youngstown State (4-2, 1-2 Missouri Valley Conference) scoreless in the second half.

Box score Complete recap

Southern Illinois edges Northern Iowa

CARBONDALE -- Austin Johnson kicked a 24-yard field goal with 59 seconds to play and Southern Illinois rallied to beat Northern Iowa 34-31 on Saturday.

The Salukis (4-3, 3-1 MVC) trailed 21-6 in the second quarter when Kenn Boatright blocked a UNI punt and recovered it in the end zone for a touchdown. The Panthers (1-5, 0-3) were driving for a touchdown late in the half when SIU's Bryan Presume picked up the ball at the goal line and ran 100 yards for a touchdown. A 2-point conversion tied it at 21.

Southern Illinois took a 31-21 lead thanks in part to Kory Faulkner's 21-yard scoring pass to MyCole Pruitt, but Northern Iowa tied it at 31 before Johnson's winning kick.

David Johnson ran for 118 yards and two touchdowns for the Panthers. Faulkner ran for a 49-yard touchdown for SIU.

Box score Complete recap

Eastern Illinois trips Jacksonville State

CHARLESTON -- Chris Wright caught a 15-yard touchdown pass from Jimmy Garoppolo with 3:37 left in the game, giving Eastern Illinois a 31-28 victory over Jacksonville State on Saturday.

The decisive drive went 80 yards in 11 plays and took 2:46 off the clock.

Erik Lora caught 11 passes for 128 yards for Eastern Illinois (4-3, 3-1 Ohio Valley). Garoppolo completed 26 of 51 passes for 220 yards with a pair of interceptions. Jake Walker rushed for 103 yards and a touchdown.

Washaun Ealey had a big day for Jacksonville State (3-3, 2-2), rushing for 149 yards and three TDs.

The Eastern Illinois defense came up with three interceptions of Jacksonville State's Marques Ivory.

Box score Complete recap

Bears could develop “twin towers” personnel package at WR with Robinson, White

Bears could develop “twin towers” personnel package at WR with Robinson, White

BOURBONNAIS, Ill. – Coaches are loath to give away competitive information, which can cover just about anything from play design to flavor of Gatorade dispensed by the training staff. But Matt Nagy offered an intriguing what-if personnel grouping that his offense could confront defenses with in 2018. It’s one that has been overlooked so far, for a variety of reasons.


The what-if personnel pairing is Allen Robinson and Kevin White as the outside receivers, a tandem that would put two 6-foot-3 wide receivers at the disposal of quarterback Mitch Trubisky. The Bears have not had a tandem of effective big receivers since Alshon Jeffery (6-3) and Brandon Marshall (6-4) averaged a combined 159 catches per year from 2012-14.


White’s injury history has relegated him to found-money status in many evaluations, and he has typically been running at Robinson’s spot while the latter was rehabbing this offseason from season-ending knee injury.


But Nagy on Wednesday cited Robinson’s ability to play multiple positions and clearly raised the prospect of his two of his biggest receivers being on the field at the same time.


“The one thing you’ll see here in this offense is that we have guys all over the place in different spots,” said Nagy, who credited GM Ryan Pace with stocking the roster with options at wide receiver. “Ryan did a great job of looking at these certain free agents that we went after, some of these draft picks that we went after and getting guys that are football smart, they have a high football IQ and they’re able to play multiple positions.


“When you can do that, that helps you out as an offensive playcaller to be able to move guys around. Is it going to happen to every single receiver that comes into this offense? No. But we do a pretty job I feel like at balancing of where they’re at position wise, what they can and can’t handle, and then we try to fit them into the process.”


The organization and locker room can be excused for a collective breath-holding on White, who has gone through his third straight positive offseason but whose last two seasons ended abruptly with injuries in the fourth and first games of the 2016 and 2017 seasons.


White was leading the Bears in with 19 receptions through less than four full games in 2016, then was lost with a fractured fibula suffered against Detroit. The injury was all the crueler coming in a game in which White already had been targeted nine times in 41 snaps and had caught six of those Brian Hoyer passes.


White’s roster status has been open to some question with the signings of Robinson and Taylor Gabriel together with the drafting of Anthony Miller. All represent bigger deep threats in terms of average yards per catch than White (9.2 ypc.) at this point: Robinson, 14.1.; Gabriel, 15.1; and Miller, 13.8 (college stats).


But Trubisky’s budding chemistry with White was evident throughout the offseason. And the second-year quarterback has studied what Robinson has been and seen some of what he can be.


“We know he has great hands, he’ll go up and get it,” Trubisky said. “Explosive route-runner. The more reps we get, it’s all about repetitions for us, continue to build that chemistry. Just going against our great defense in practice is going to allow us to compete and get better.”


Folding in the expectations for an expanded presence at tight end (Trey Burton), “targets” will be spread around the offense. How often the Bears go with a Robinson-White “twin towers” look clearly depends in large measure on White’s improvement as well as his availability.


Opportunities will be there. The Kansas City Chiefs ran 51 percent of their 2018 snaps, with Nagy as offensive coordinator, in “11” personnel (one back, one tight end, three receivers, according to Pro Football Focus. Whether White earns his way into that core nickel-wideout package opposite Robinson is part of what training camp and preseason will determine.


“[White] has had a good offseason and just like our team, he needs to carry that momentum into camp,” Pace said. “He’s playing with a lot of confidence right now, he’s very focused. The real expectation, just be the best he can be. Focus on himself, which is what he’s been doing.”

Cubs bolster pitching staff with minor trade, foreshadow more moves coming

Cubs bolster pitching staff with minor trade, foreshadow more moves coming

The Cubs didn't wait long to make Joe Maddon's words come true.

Roughly 5 hours after Maddon said the Cubs are definitely in the market for more pitching, the front office went out and acquired Jesse Chavez, a journeyman jack-of-all-trades type.

It's a minor move, not in the realm of Zach Britton or any of the other top relievers on the market.

But the Cubs only had to part with pitcher Class-A pitcher Tyler Thomas, their 7th-round draft pick from last summer who was pitching out of the South Bend rotation as a 22-year-old.

Chavez — who turns 35 in a month — brings over a vast array of big-league experience, with 799 innings under his belt. He's made 70 starts, 313 appearances as a reliever and even has 3 saves, including one this season for the Texas Rangers.

Chavez is currently 3-1 with a 3.51 ERA, 1.24 WHIP and 50 strikeouts in 56.1 innings. He has a career 4.61 ERA and 1.38 WHIP while pitching for the Pirates, Braves, Royals, Blue Jays, A's, Dodgers, Angels and Rangers before coming to Chicago.

Of his 30 appearances this season, Chavez has worked multiple innings 18 times and can serve as a perfect right-handed swingman in the Cubs bullpen, filling the role previously occupied by Luke Farrell and Eddie Butler earlier in the season.

Chavez had a pretty solid run as a swingman in Oakland from 2013-15, making 47 starts and 50 appearances as a reliever, pitching to a 3.85 ERA, 1.31 WHIP and 8.2 K/9 across 360.1 innings.

"Good arm, versatile, could start and relieve," Joe Maddon said Thursday after the trade. "I've watched him. I know he had some great runs with different teams. 

"The word that comes to mind is verstaility. You could either start him or put him in the bullpen and he's very good in both arenas."

It's not a flasy move, but a valuable piece to give the Cubs depth down the stretch.

There's no way the Cubs are done after this one trade with nearly two weeks left until the deadline. There are more moves coming from this front office, right?

"Oh yeah," Maddon said. "I don't think that's gonna be the end of it. They enjoy it too much."