Coaches comfortable switching players' positions

Coaches comfortable switching players' positions

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) Walking around as his players stretched during practice, Ohio State coach Urban Meyer stopped to have a word with starting fullback Zach Boren.

``Hey, we're going to move you over because guys are limping,'' Meyer told the senior.

And with that, Boren, an offensive player his entire career at Ohio State, was the Buckeyes' starting middle linebacker against Indiana.

A move of desperation? Not exactly.

Boren was a star linebacker in high school, had been begging the coaches to play on defense and the Buckeyes were banged up at that position, so it seemed like a good fit.

And it's not like Meyer is the only one moving players around.

Coaches across the country have been swapping out players like chess pieces.

Not just offensive linemen swapping spots or a cornerback moving to safety, either. Players are being moved from one side of the ball to the other, going to positions they hadn't played since high school or at all.

Sometimes it's out of necessity, moves to fill holes created by a lack of depth or injuries.

Too much depth can also lead to changes, coaches wanting to give talented players buried on the depth chart a chance to get on the field.

Sometimes it's just a coach playing a hunch, experimenting with a player at a certain position to see if it'll work out.

``You have to project guys along the way,'' Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said. ``That's absolutely something you have to be able to do, in my opinion, in developing your program.''

Kelly got his head-coaching start in Division II, where moving players around is just a part of the job as a coach with limited recruiting options tries to get the best players on the field.

Even at a high-profile program like Notre Dame, where luring the best recruits in the country isn't a problem, Kelly hasn't hesitated in switching players around, converting receivers Bennett Jackson and Matthias Farley to defensive backs after injuries left the Irish thin in the secondary.

Todd Graham has a similar philosophy in his first year at Arizona State.

He got started coaching high school teams in Texas, so moving players around is sort of second nature for him.

But Graham also has had his hand forced a bit this season.

The Sun Devils, like most programs with a new coach, entered the season without a whole lot of depth, particularly on defense.

Looking to bolster his defense, Graham started experimenting with offensive players on that side of the ball, switching running back Deantre Lewis and several receivers to the secondary and running back James Morrison to defensive end.

``We do a lot of things that are different and not what everybody else does, and I kind of like that,'' Graham said. ``I think probably being adaptive, that's what we are trying to do. We are trying to be adaptive, but it's a little bit of a necessity.''

Just down Interstate 10, Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez has done some position switching of his own, moving at least eight players around to compensate for the Wildcats' lack of depth. He also has a two-way player in Taimi Tutogi, a fullback who has earned the nickname ``Two-way Tutogi'' after being asked to help Arizona's defensive line in passing situations.

Georgia has a two-way threat of its own.

Malcolm Mitchell started the season as a cornerback for the Bulldogs, but coach Mark Richt wanted to find more ways to get the dynamic sophomore onto the field, so he started having him play receiver, along with returning kicks.

Mitchell's role on offense increased as the season has progressed and he has now become a full-time receiver, catching nine passes for 103 yards in Georgia's 29-24 win over Kentucky last week.

``He's starting to become much more productive as a wide receiver and getting more opportunities and getting more comfortable,'' Richt said at practice this week. ``So, I hope he continues to improve in all areas because he's a very talented guy.''

Just like Ohio State's Boren.

He had been badgering the Buckeyes' coaches for a shot at playing on defense and got it against the Hoosiers on Oct. 13 after Etienne Sabino went down with a broken leg. Despite playing the position for the first time since high school and relying mostly on instincts instead of technique, he led Ohio State with eight tackles.

Boren started again against Purdue last weekend, getting five tackles in the Buckeyes' 29-22 overtime win.

``I've been on punt ever since I've been here, so I've gotten a couple of tackles that way,'' Boren said. ``To hit people and to get off blockers and make tackles, it was fun. It brought me back to my high school days.''

With so many coaches willing to switch positions around, a lot of players across the country know exactly what he's talking about.


AP Sports Writer Rusty Miller in Columbus, Ohio, and Associated Press Writer Tom Coyne in South Bend, Ind., contributed to this story.

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Capitals vs. Hurricanes preseason Game 4: Time, TV Channel, Live stream, how to watch

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Capitals vs. Hurricanes preseason Game 4: Time, TV Channel, Live stream, how to watch

The preseason continues after the Capitals' loss in Montreal last night. They are hoping to gain some momentum and dominate at tonight's game.

Even without the home advantage, they hope to take home a win as they face the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena. The Hurricanes are one of the four teams the Capitals will face in preseason play, along with the Bruins, Canadiens and Blues.

The Capitals and Hurricanes will meet once again, next Friday at Capital One Arena. But first, it's time to get back on the ice for Game 4 of the seven-game preseason schedule.



What: Washington Capitals vs. Carolina Hurricanes

Where: PNC Arena, Raleigh, North Carolina

When: Friday, September, 21, 7:30 p.m. ET

TV Channel: Capitals-Hurricanes preseason game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Hurricanes preseason on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page.

Radio: Caps Radio 24/7


7:00 PM: Washington Capitals: My Day with the Cup (R)
7:30 PM: NHL Preseason: Capitals @ Carolina Hurricanes 
10:00 PM: Caps Postgame Live (LIVE)



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Lobaton’s sacrifice fly lifts Mets past Nationals in 12


Lobaton’s sacrifice fly lifts Mets past Nationals in 12

Jose Lobaton hit a go-ahead sacrifice fly against his former team in the 12th inning and the New York Mets beat the Washington Nationals 5-4 on Thursday night.

Lobaton, who spent the previous four years in Washington before signing with the Mets in December, lofted a one-out fly ball off Jefry Rodriguez (3-3) with the bases loaded to score Amed Rosario.

Jacob Rhame (1-2) worked two scoreless innings, and Paul Sewald pitched the 12th for his second save.

Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper was ejected in the 12th for arguing home plate umpire D.J. Reyburn’s called third strike.

Washington starter Max Scherzer pitched seven innings, allowing three runs while striking out 13. He has 290 strikeouts this year, the most for a National since the franchise relocated from Montreal before the 2005 season. Scherzer set the previous mark of 284 in 2016.

However, he never held a lead Thursday. Michael Conforto smashed a two-run homer to left in the third, his 27th of the season. It was also his fourth home run in 23 career at-bats against Scherzer.

Four pitches later, Jay Bruce crushed his ninth home run of the season. It was the sixth time this season New York has hit back-to-back homers.

Washington’s Trea Turner led off the sixth with an infield single. Two batters later, Anthony Rendon golfed Jason Vargas’ changeup to deep left for his 100th career home run to narrow the deficit to 3-2. Vargas allowed two runs and struck out eight over 5 2/3 innings.

Jeff McNeil led off the eighth with a triple and scored two batters later when Bruce punched a single to right past a drawn-in infield. But the Nationals responded with Rendon’s run-scoring groundout and Juan Soto’s RBI double off Robert Gsellman in the bottom half of the inning.

Mets manager Mickey Callaway was ejected in the 10th inning for arguing after Reyburn ruled McNeil had offered on a bunt attempt.


Mets: INF Wilmer Flores will miss the rest of the season with soreness in both knees. Callaway said Flores has early onset arthritis in both knees and will receive injections to alleviate the pain. “It’s not like surgery is recommended at this time,” Callaway said. “I think rest and a couple injections is supposed to knock this out pretty good.”


Mets: RHP Jacob deGrom (8-9, 1.78 ERA), who is 5-1 with a 2.76 ERA lifetime at Nationals Park, gets the nod for New York as the four-game series continues.

Nationals: RHP Joe Ross (0-0, 3.60) makes his second start since undergoing Tommy John surgery last year.