Redskins

Buckeyes take a break before 2 biggest games

Buckeyes take a break before 2 biggest games

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) Most will rest. Some will try to heal. Others will try to catch up on classwork or a personal life.

A bye week is a time to take a breath for the fifth-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes.

There are also a few who will pause, knowing there are only two games left in their college careers.

``It just hit me in the locker room,'' senior defensive lineman John Simon said Saturday after Ohio State rolled Illinois 52-22. ``It goes extremely fast. The seniors, we're making every moment count. We're trying to make this season a memorable one.''

It already has been. But it could be even more memorable.

Despite a glittering start (10-0, 6-0 Big Ten) to their season, what remains will determine whether Urban Meyer's first Ohio State team is an unqualified success or one that wilted when it got close to its biggest goals.

The most difficult games on the schedule await.

After taking a couple of extra days off this week (they'll still have full-tilt practices on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday), the Buckeyes begin to prep for the showdown at Wisconsin on Nov. 17 and at home against archrival Michigan a week later.

``I need the off week. I'm still battling injuries. Any extra time I can use to rest,'' cornerback Bradley Roby said. ``The bye week is going to give us a little more time for our academic situations and things like that. It's coming at a good time even though it took a while to get here.''

Ohio State is 13-9 since 1971 in games coming off a bye week. It has won the last two (a 2010 win was vacated as part of NCAA sanctions), after losing three in a row 2003-5.

Meyer said the week will come in handy because Ohio State just moved from quarters to semesters, which has changed the academic calendar for the players. He said several players had told him the string of 10 straight games and adapting to semesters has been like ``hitting a wall.''

``We can unhit the wall for a week academically, get that in order,'' he said. ``Get their weights up and bodies right. You get (a bye) usually week six, seven. (I've) never had 10 weeks straight through.''

Ohio State will likely regain starting linebacker Etienne Sabino, who has missed the last four games after cracking a bone in his lower right leg. Almost every Buckeye who plays much has a litany of bumps and bruises, with defensive backs Orhian Johnson, Roby and Christian Bryant in particular hoping to get back to something approaching full health.

The coaches, meanwhile, will pound the pavement (or airways) doing some in-season recruiting.

Defensive co-coordinator Everett Withers relishes the chance to mention Ohio State's unbeaten record when he calls on blue-chippers.

``I'm anxious just to see. I've never been undefeated on the road recruiting,'' he said. ``I imagine it will be easy to go into that high school and talk to that high school coach and counselor with people knowing you're 10-0.''

Still, the upcoming tests will never be far from everyone's mind.

``Going to Wisconsin, it's not going to be an easy game,'' safety C.J. Barnett said. ``I've never been over there - I was hurt my sophomore year - but I heard it's a hostile environment. They have a great running back (in Montee Ball) who can run the ball, great coaches. It's going to be a tough one but I think we can do it.''

Carlos Hyde, who has become one of the top backs in the Big Ten, has solidified the tailback slot and taken some of the heat off of quarterback Braxton Miller, who was saddled with having to make almost every big play for the Buckeyes early in the season.

Hyde, who has 144 carries for 737 yards and 13 touchdowns in a breakout season, is pleased with Ohio State's lofty ranking. Sort of.

``We're pretty good, but we can be a lot better,'' he said. ``There's a lot of things to work on.''

For Roby, now is a good time to think about everything that's been done - and also everything left to do.

``It's hard to win 10 games in a row and that's what we accomplished,'' he said. ``Right now, it's a grind. The whole season is a grind. We're going to keep getting better and keep winning. Coach Meyer has given us some time off during the bye week so we can get healthy.

``That's what we're going to do.''

---

Follow Rusty Miller on Twitter:http://www.twitter.com/rustymillerap

Quick Links

The Kerrigans are having a baby and, WOW, this is all so very exciting

screen_shot_2018-10-16_at_5.55.43_pm.png
@kerrigan91

The Kerrigans are having a baby and, WOW, this is all so very exciting

The Kerrigan family is about to make a big-time addition to its roster.

Ryan and his wife, Jessica, already have two very, VERY, very, very cute bulldogs in their household. 

But on Tuesday, the two announced in separate Instagram posts that Jessica is 18 weeks pregnant and that a third human Kerrigan will arrive in 2019.

"Can I eat dis sign aftur da picturr iz over?" George the bulldog said when reached for comment on the news.

"How did dey gett such a smawl jerzey for da baby alreddy?" Franklin the other bulldog added.

This is all very wonderful.

Come next March, the world is about to get a little precious-er.

MORE REDSKINS NEWS:

Quick Links

The Caps are a bad faceoff team, here’s what they’re doing about it

capsfaceoff.png
USA Today Sports

The Caps are a bad faceoff team, here’s what they’re doing about it

Tuesday’s practice was a lot like every other for the Caps until the end. After working on the power play, the team gathered at one end of the ice and began working on faceoffs. It was not just the centers, but wingers and defensemen alike got into the action with every win celebrated by loud cheers from teammates.

It should could as no surprise to see faceoffs as a point of emphasis for Washington considering just how much the team has struggled with them in the early season. The Caps rank 30th in the league in faceoff win percentage at only 43.8-percent.

“Yeah, there's little details that can help our game,” Lars Eller told reporters after practice. “The more you have the puck, easier the game is gonna be for you. We have a little more time in between games than usual during the season here, so we have the time to work on something like that, which can be little things that makes the difference.”

The team as a whole watched video on faceoffs prior to practice and then worked as a five-man unit during the drill. The main point of emphasis head coach Todd Reirden wanted to drill into his players was that faceoffs are not simply the responsibility of the centers alone.

“The days of it just being center vs. center and a clean draw being won back are a rarity now so it's important to have all five guys helping, something we watched video on earlier today,” Reirden said.

“You ask any centerman if they have a good group of wingers that can help them out on draws, that makes a huge difference,” Nic Dowd said. “I've been lucky, I have [Devante Smith-Pelly] on my right and I'm a righty so I win all my draws my backhand side so a lot of pucks go his way and he wins a lot of draws for me. That's huge. You have a guy that's sitting over there that's sleeping, you could go easily from five wins to five losses and then that's your night. It makes a big difference.”

Faceoffs were always going to be more of a struggle for the Caps this season with the departure of Jay Beagle who was, by far, the team’s best faceoff man for several years. Whenever the team needed a big draw, Beagle was the player relied upon to win it. With him gone, it is no surprise to see the team struggle.

But the Caps don’t like the idea of keeping possession off a draw just 43.8-percent of the time.

“It's essentially like the ref is creating a 50-50 puck and you snap it back, you get possession, now you're forechecking and it makes a huge difference,” Dowd said. “You play against those top lines, they want to be in the O-zone. Well, if you lose the draw, now you're playing D-zone, you win the draw now you're playing O-zone. So effectively, you've shut down their shift.”

There is a school of thought suggesting that perhaps the importance of winning faceoffs is overrated and a team’s faceoff win percentage is not overly important. Eller himself admitted as much to reporters.

What no one can argue, however, is that while some faceoffs may not matter all that much, there are some that are hugely important in a game. The Caps recognize that. For them, being a strong faceoff team is not necessarily about improving the team’s win percentage, but more about being able to win those critical draws.

“It's something that for the most part the players understand and a neutral zone faceoff with 14 minutes to go in the first period is not nearly as important as one that's 5-on-6 at the end of the game,” Reirden said. “We all know that. It's important to put the right people on those situations and give them the best chance to have success.”

“A center ice draw, I could see where guys could make the argument, well you lose it you still will play hockey and stuff could still happen,” Dowd said. “But I think the game is such a possession game now that any opportunity you can win a 50-50 puck whether that's a faceoff or a board battle, it makes a huge difference.”

 

MORE CAPITALS NEWS: