Redskins

Meyer says Buckeyes have lots of room to improve

Meyer says Buckeyes have lots of room to improve

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) Urban Meyer says one of the mantras for his second Ohio State team will be ``truth.''

He's certainly not sparing his Buckeyes his perception of it when it comes to whether they can compete with the likes of national champion Alabama next season.

``For me to say we have to get there next year, that's like me talking about we have to go fly to the moon,'' he said Friday. ``We're nowhere near even having that conversation.''

Despite a 12-0 record and a No. 3 ranking in the Associated Press poll after a bowl-less season, Meyer made it clear he does not believe his team is remotely close to even discussing competing with the nation's elite teams.

``Truth means exactly (that); you have a good season, and there's a lot of conversation about things that really shouldn't be discussed because it's not true,'' he said, referring to extremely early predictions that figure the Buckeyes to be among the top handful of teams in the nation in 2013. ``For example, are you guys going to (contend for the national title) next year? No, probably not, unless we get a lot better - like, a lot better.''

Meyer even detailed what makes teams like Alabama, Georgia, LSU and the rest of Southeastern Conference - where he coached for six years at Florida 2005-2010, winning two national titles - so much better than everyone else.

``The SEC, right now, the quantity (of great players) is far greater than the quantity at the upper-level Midwestern schools,'' Meyer said. ``It's up to the Big Ten to change that. There's one way to do that: Go out and recruit and get some more depth. But to say that there's not quality football players in the Big Ten, that's not correct. The quantity is the biggest difference.''

Even though he said he won't discuss with his players how they can compete with the Crimson Tide and others, that doesn't mean he isn't thinking about it - ``24/7, every second of (my) life.''

``We've got to go catch them,'' he said of Alabama, the national champs in three of the last four seasons. ``Everybody's trying to catch the best. Some people are probably trying to catch us. There's nothing else I'd rather do than watch these other programs and kind of figure out how they're doing it, how do we get that or do that? How do we beat that?''

His first Ohio State team was a pleasant surprise. Led by sophomore quarterback Braxton Miller and a group of game seniors who refused to settle for anything short of each player's best, the Buckeyes piled up wins even though many thought they might falter because of NCAA sanctions which deprived them of a bowl trip.

They eked out some close wins, won their Big Ten division and knocked off rival Michigan in the annual season-ending game.

Despite the disappointment of being shut out of the conference title game or playing in a major bowl due to NCAA violations committed under the tenure of the deposed Jim Tressel, the Buckeyes accomplished just about everything they possibly could last season.

No wonder Ohio State is honoring that squad. A team photo is in a prime spot at the end of the hall just outside the meeting room at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. Each of the 2012 Buckeyes will receive rings commemorating their divisional title and only the sixth unbeaten and untied season in the program's 123 seasons. And another wall in the practice facility will honor what was a season of triumph after a year of sanctions, suspensions and innuendo that nearly tore the program apart.

``In my history with players, they like that. They like to come in (later in life) and bring their children, bring their families and then say, `I was a part of that,''' Meyer said.

He said the past few weeks had been good ones. Ohio State received news that running back Jordan Hall would be granted a medical redshirt after missing most of the 2012 season with foot and knee injuries. Meyer has laid the groundwork for a bumper crop of top recruits heading into the Feb. 6 signing day, with several already enrolled in classes. His staff remains unchanged, despite several schools inquiring about hiring his assistants. He also made it clear he had not been offered any of the numerous NFL head-coaching jobs.

Meyer said he would challenge his returning players to make substantial improvement - particularly on the defensive line, at linebacker and wide receiver.

``The truth is we're very strong in certain areas, we've made great strides in certain areas,'' he said. ``However, there were quite a few that were below average performances. So we've got to get those fixed. The saying is, `If it's strong, enhance it and make it even stronger; if it's weak, fix it.' So that's where that truth comes back.''

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

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2019 Redskins Draft Bracket: DK Metcalf and TJ Hockenson would inject the offense with needed talent

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USA TODAY Sports

2019 Redskins Draft Bracket: DK Metcalf and TJ Hockenson would inject the offense with needed talent

NBC Sports Washington wants Redskins fans to help decide the team's ideal 2019 first-round pick by voting in the Redskins Draft Bracket on Twitter. Before you vote, though, take in this breakdown of the next matchup.

Looking for a stat to describe the rough season the Redskins receivers had in 2018? Well, there's tons to choose from.

The team's wideouts had the second-fewest catches of 20-plus yards in the league. Antonio Brown had more grabs, yards and touchdowns than Washington's top three targets combined. Josh Doctson led the squad in receiving yards — with a measly 532.

You could easily find plenty more, but those three are all you need to realize that DK Metcalf should absolutely be on the franchise's mind when it comes to their first-round pick this April.

While Metcalf's numbers at Ole Miss won't overly impress you, his athleticism and potential explosiveness as a pro absolutely does. That's why it's no surprise the WR met with the Redskins while at the Combine, as Jay Gruden and Co. are well aware that they must become more dangerous on the outside.

As with any prospect, there are questions with Metcalf. He only had 67 catches in 21 games in school, and while he shredded most of the drills in Indianapolis, his short area agility numbers were worse than Tom Brady. That's not great.

Regardless, he'd instantly become the offense's scariest athlete, and you have to like his chances of at least contributing splash plays early while he learns the nuances of the NFL.

The 'Skins don't just need improvement out wide, however. Jordan Reed was largely ineffective despite playing for much of 2018, Vernon Davis is 35 years old and Jeremy Sprinkle isn't much of a threat in the air at tight end.

Perhaps TJ Hockenson could be their answer. NFL.com says the Iowa product "is an ascending talent with a chance to become one of the best all-around tight ends in the game." 

One problem the Burgundy and Gold have encountered in recent years is Reed and Davis don't help much as blockers, while Sprinkle won't worry a defense with his hands. Taking Hockenson at pick No. 15 would mean Gruden could finally have a guy who excels in both areas.

It remains to be seen whether Metcalf or Hockenson will last until the Redskins' choice, as they could continue to rise up boards as the draft draws closer. If both or either is there, however, they need to be heavily considered. 

While the offense may have to be run-oriented again in 2019, it still needs more weapons for whoever is under center. They won't be able to grind out 13-play scoring drives every time they need a TD, and grabbing Metcalf or Hockenson would go a long way in introducing a new element to the group.

You've heard the case for both players. Now, retweet or like depending on whom you'd prefer to see move on in the bracket.

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How Tom Wilson's first game back from suspension against Minnesota sparked the Caps

How Tom Wilson's first game back from suspension against Minnesota sparked the Caps

WASHINGTON – Capitals forward Tom Wilson did not miss a beat. 
 
That’s what happens when a player sits the first 14 games of a season because of an NHL-mandated suspension for a hit to the head of St. Louis Blues forward Oskar Sundqvist in a preseason game. 
 
With his suspension reduced from 20 games to 16, Wilson was suddenly eligible to play Nov. 13 when Washington played a game against the Minnesota Wild. Wilson scored a goal in the first period – and ironically was penalized on the same play for running into the goalie. He later had a fight with Wild forward Marcus Foligno. He also helped the penalty kill strop five of six chances. That pretty much summed it up. 
 
Wilson sees Minnesota again tonight when the Capitals host the Wild at Capital One Arena (7 p.m., NBC Sports Washington). That first game in St. Paul sparked a turnaround for the Capitals, who were lethargic early in the season as they tried to stay emotionally engaged after last spring’s dramatic championship run through the Stanley Cup playoffs.
 
Wilson’s return against the Wild had a visceral effect. The players had a jump not seen often in a 7-6-3 start to the season that included back-to-back home losses to the Columbus Blue Jackets and Arizona Coyotes. 
 
The Capitals won 5-2 that night against the Wild and went on an 8-2-0 run in Wilson’s first 10 games. He had eight goals and seven assists in those games before sustaining a concussion during a fight in a Dec. 4 loss at the Vegas Golden Knights. 
 
Wilson missed three more games and has only played 55 total. But he’s had a major impact on the top line with Alex Ovechkin and either center Evgeny Kuznetsov or Nicklas Backstrom. Wilson has 21 goals and 16 assists. Those are both career highs. His 37 points are also a career best. And that’s all in 23 fewer games than the 78 he played last season. There are eight games left for Wilson to top 40 points for the first time. 

Djoos returns

The lower-body injury to Michal Kempny sustained Wednesday means Christian Djoos is back in the lineup. He will be on the top pair with John Carlson. Djoos is playing just his second game since Feb. 23. The Capitals will be experimenting here down the stretch thinking Kempny will be out for a while. It’s a good opportunity for Djoos, who has played with Carlson before. Washington will not recall a defensemen from AHL Hershey for now. They will stick with six unless another player is needed during the remaining three games of this four-game homestand.

50

Alex Ovechkin couldn’t find the back of the net in Wednesday’s 5-4 overtime loss to Tampa Bay, but he is still just two goals shy of 50 for his career. That would be his eighth 50-goal season. Ovechkin finished last year with 49. Only Wayne Gretzky and Mike Bossy have had more (nine each). Ovechkin always torches Minnesota with 26 points (15 goals, 11 assists) in just 15 career games. That’s his highest goals-per-game average against any franchise.

Holtby goes

No surprise here as the Capitals don’t have any more back-to-back games and will ride Holtby down the stretch until they possibly clinch the Metropolitan Division. They lead by three points over the New York Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins and have eight games to go. Holtby is 8-2-0 in his career against Minnesota with one shutout and a .922 save percentage. 

Going streaking

The Capitals have won eight games in a row against Minnesota, led by former Washington coach Bruce Boudreau. Expect a good push from the Wild, however, who are still in the playoff chase in the Western Conference. At 34-31-9, they have 77 points and are one point behind the Colorado Avalanche for the second and final wild card spot. 

Expected lineup

Alex Ovechkin – Nicklas Backstrom – Tom Wilson
Jakub Vrana – Evgeny Kuznetsov – T.J. Oshie
Carl Hagelin – Lars Eller – Brett Connolly
Andre Burakovsky – Nic Dowd – Travis Boyd
Christian Djoos – John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov – Matt Niskanen
Brooks Orpik – Nick Jensen
Braden Holtby
Pheonix Copley
Scratches: Chandler Stephenson, Dmitrij Jaskin
Injured: Michal Kempny

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