Redskins

Carlos Hyde latest in long line of big OSU backs

Carlos Hyde latest in long line of big OSU backs

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) This sure wasn't the offense a lot of people expected out of Ohio State.

A lot of fans might have hoped the Buckeyes would average 40 points a game, which they are. But almost no one envisioned Urban Meyer's spread offense would end up working so seamlessly alongside Woody Hayes' tenets - a big back, a big line and enforcing your will on the opponent.

Despite ironing out the kinks in a new system, NCAA probation and a bowl ban, the seventh-ranked Buckeyes (7-0, 3-0 Big Ten) in many ways look a lot like Hayes' Buckeyes teams from the 1970s that used to live off pushing people around.

``This is something that's new for Urban because we never had that type of physicality,'' said Stan Drayton, an assistant to Meyer at Florida and also his running backs coach at Ohio State. ``Now that we have it with these guys here, man, it's really fun to watch the offense develop.''

Meyer's hiring was supposed to usher in an era of throwing it around, backs used as receivers and receivers carrying the ball. The speed - in terms of personnel and even the rapidity and number of plays - would be breathtaking.

Instead, muscular Carlos Hyde has brought back a Buckeyes' attack from another time, when it was routine to see 235-pound tailbacks muscling through a sliver of daylight created by the hand-to-hand combat up front of a massive offensive line.

To his credit, Meyer doesn't have a problem with the Buckeyes grinding out first downs on terra firma.

``We have had two back-to-back games where it's almost 600 rushing yards,'' Meyer said, referring to the victories over Nebraska (223) and Indiana (353 yards on the ground). ``You kind of go back to what's working well for you. It's just been a little bit different the way we manage the game. Because at the end of the day we have to win it. If that means a little more imbalanced in the run, I'm fine with that.''

The reason the Buckeyes can rely so heavily on Hyde, who has rushed 296 yards the past two weeks, is because of the threat of quarterback Braxton Miller breaking loose out wide.

Defenses have to be wary of the shifty Miller in the open field, so they have difficulty packing the line of scrimmage to stop runs between the tackles. Behind a big front wall that is playing at its best, Hyde has found a home.

``I don't think that we knew we'd be running the ball out of as much power stuff as we are now,'' said starting left tackle Jack Mewhort.

When Meyer and his staff first arrived in the spring, the line wasn't terribly aggressive, Hyde wasn't working hard and the receivers were not very good. No wonder Meyer called the first few days of running his spread ``a clown show.''

Gradually, the line started clicking, Hyde and the other backs began to find some rhythm, the receivers improved - and Miller was always there to make up for any part of the offense that didn't get the job done. Early in the season, he saved the Buckeyes time and time again by freelancing for big yardage. It appeared that Meyer was basically saying to his sophomore signal-caller, ``Go out and make a play and win this for us.'' And he did.

Now Ohio State has advanced far beyond that. Miller can still make plays with his arm and his feet - he's rushed for 912 yards and nine TDs through seven games and has thrown for 1,271 yards and 11 scores - but the rise of Hyde at tailback has transformed the offense.

``I saw a lot of passion in him, breaking through arm-tackles and stuff,'' left guard Andrew Norwell said of the 6-foot, 232-pound Hyde. ``He was just trying to get the first down, running really hard. That makes us more confident up front, that we have a big back back there doing his job makes us feel pretty good.''

Meyer said of Hyde's career-high 156 yards rushing and two touchdowns against Indiana: ``We just didn't start very fast. He did not (either). But he got real strong. By the end of the game, he was a man.''

Hyde couldn't be happier with his increased role in the attack. He got 28 carries against Nebraska, 22 last week.

``I'm ready. Whatever the number is they give me, I'm ready,'' he said. ``Whenever the coach calls my number, I thrive off of that. I want to run the ball and when I have the opportunity to run the ball I'm going to make the best of it.''

Meyer and his offensive staff have adapted to think bigger. It has paid huge dividends. Rather than try to make Ohio State players fit into the mold the coaches perfected during two national championship seasons at Florida, they've massaged their own offensive philosophy and theories so it includes backs unlike what they've used before.

``The beauty of this offense is that it fits the skills of our players,'' Drayton said. ``It can always be adjusted to the skill that we have with them, our personnel. (Meyer's coaches) have always been a power, inside-zone outfit, no matter where we've been. It's just that down in Florida, you were doing it with guys who weighed 185 or 190 pounds. Now you're doing it with a 235-pound back, and these guys when they hit it they break a tackle or two.''

And that would have pleased the late Hayes to no end.

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

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10 Training Camp Questions: How dangerous is the Brandon Scherff contract situation?

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USA Today Sports

10 Training Camp Questions: How dangerous is the Brandon Scherff contract situation?

The Redskins report to training camp on July 24th, and for the next 10 days, JP Finlay will count down the 10 biggest questions the Redskins face going into the 2019 season.

10) Will the Redskins develop depth on the D-line?

9) Can the Redskins count on Montae Nicholson?

8) Want better offense? Get more out of the tight ends 

7) Will Jimmy Moreland actually win the slot CB job from Fabian Moreau?

6) After losing Reuben Foster, how's the Redskins LB situation?

5) Will potential match production for Redskins WRs?

When a team picks in the Top 10 of the NFL Draft, folks around the NFL expect that player to become a Pro Bowler. For Washington, that exact scenario unfolded with right guard Brandon Scherff. 

Mostly. 

Selected fifth overall in 2015, the Redskins took Scherff to play right tackle and anchor the offensive line opposite Trent Williams. That idea quickly faded, helped by the emergence of Morgan Moses, and Scherff moved inside to play guard. For four years, it's worked out great, with Pro Bowl selections in 2016 and 2017. 

Scherff is a mauler in the best sense of the word. He has great footwork and Redskins head coach Jay Gruden has called the former Iowa Hawkeye the best pulling guard in the NFL. Scherff is strong and nasty, words that won't win beauty pageants but absolutely win in the trenches of the NFL. 

Considering all of that, a contract extension for Scherff should be easy. Right?

Wrong. 

Currently in the final year of his rookie deal, multiple reports stretching over the last six weeks indicate that the organization is way off in their extension offers to Scherff. He might not command the biggest contract in the league, but he will get paid like a top three guard. In 2019, that means a lot of money.

Cowboys guard Zach Martin makes $14 million a year. Jaguars guard Andrew Norwell makes $13.3 million a year. Scherff might not get to Martin's salary, but he will probably get to Norwell, whether Washington pays it or not.

That means the Redskins need to pony up the cash now because as each day passes, the team is approaching an ugly set of options. Scherff and his representatives might continue to negotiate during the season, but it doesn't make a lot of sense. Once free agency becomes in view, players tend to wait for it. Just ask Kirk Cousins. 

In fact, the situation between Scherff and the Redskins has some resemblance to the Cousins saga from a few years ago. 

In that case, Washington low-balled their homegrown quarterback in their first set of negotiations. From there, things went sideways, and the team used consecutive franchise tags on Cousins before he finally left via free agency. 

If the Redskins can't get a deal done with Scherff, the team could use a franchise tag in 2020. But that's a dangerous game of roulette. 

The time to get a deal done with Scherff is now, if not last month. Redskins team president has said in the past that deadlines drive deals, but with Scherff, there is no exact deadline. He can decide to stop working on a contract extension at any moment, particularly once the pads come on at training camp. 

The Trent Williams holdout might be complicating things a bit, if Williams only wants more cash and the issue isn't about much more than that. The truth is a Scherff extension would actually free up cap space in the short term, as his signing bonus would be spread out over the life of the contract, and some of that salary cap relief could go to Williams right away. 

Williams' status isn't the hold up between Scherff and the Redskins. Whatever is the actual holdup best be resolved soon. or the Redskins are beginning down an all too familiar franchise path.

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Sánchez and Adams lead Nationals in crucial win over Braves

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USA Today

Sánchez and Adams lead Nationals in crucial win over Braves

ATLANTA—Anibal Sanchez outpitched Mike Soroka and scored the go-ahead run in the fifth inning, Matt Adams homered and the Washington Nationals beat the Atlanta Braves 5-3 on Saturday night.

Second-place Washington pulled within 5 games of the NL East-leading Braves, improving to 33-14 since May 24, best in the majors over that span. Atlanta has dropped four of five.

Sanchez (6-6) got a big assist in the bottom of the fifth when shortstop Trea Turner turned a bases-loaded double play, leaping to nab Nick Markakis' liner and throwing to first to beat Josh Donaldson back to the bag.

Soroka (10-2) allowed four runs and nine hits in six innings. He had won 10 straight decisions, best by an Atlanta pitcher since Hall of Famer Greg Maddux had a 10-decision streak in 2001.

Sean Doolittle got the last five outs, facing the minimum, for his 21st save in 25 chances. He struck out Ronald Acuna Jr. with a runner at second to end the eighth and breezed through the ninth.

Washington went up 4-1 in the fifth when Sanchez reached on an infield single to third, took second on Donaldson's throwing error and scored on Turner's double. Turner took third on Adam Eaton's single and scored on Anthony Rendon's single. Eaton scored on Juan Soto's single.

The Nationals took a 5-3 lead in the eighth off A.J. Minter as Turner singled, stole second and scored on Eaton's single.

Adams went deep for the 15th time, an opposite-field homer that bounced off the top of the wall in left-center and into the stands to tie it at 1-all in the fourth.

Sanchez, who pitched for the Braves last year and helped them win the division, allowed three runs and six hits and has a 2.70 ERA in his last nine starts.

Atlanta led 1-0 in the first when Acuna reached on an infield single, stole second base, advanced on a flyout and scored on Freddie Freeman's single.

Brian McCann's ninth homer, a two-run shot in the sixth, chased Sanchez and cut the lead to 4-3.

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NBC Sports Washington's Michael Stearman contributed to this Associated Press story.