Nationals

Missouri Western's Hill shines in All-Star Classic

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Missouri Western's Hill shines in All-Star Classic

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) Michael Hill received a surprise invitation to the first Raycom College Football All-Star Classic, but looked like he belonged.

Hill rushed for 148 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries to lead the Stripes to a 31-3 victory over the Stars six days after getting the phone call that a spot had come available.

``You never know what to expect coming from Division II,'' said Hill said. ``You hear about the SEC and all that speed.

``I thought I could come compete and play with speed, too. I didn't know what to expect. I guess I fit in.''

He did indeed, flashing speed, moves and big-play ability in a game that featured 22 players from the Southeastern Conference.

Hill was chosen offensive MVP by NFL scouts and had runs of 44 and 49 yards for two of the game's biggest plays, both setting up his touchdowns.

The defensive MVP was Charles James of FCS Charleston Southern, who had two tackles and a pass breakup that resulted in a third-quarter interception.

James said he was ``surprised and shocked'' to be named MVP and didn't mind not getting the pick himself.

``As long as my teammates can get it and make a play on the ball, I'm happy,'' James said. ``That's what I'm here for.''

The game was played at Cramton Bowl, long home to the now-defunct Blue-Gray game traditionally played on Christmas Day.

Purdue's Robert Marve also had a strong performance in the showcase game for pro football prospects. He completed 10 of 13 passes for 142 yards with a touchdown and an interception for the Stripes.

The 5-foot-11, 205-pound Hill bounced outside for the 44-yarder to make his first big impression.

``It was supposed to be a short-yardage play,'' Hill said. ``I went up inside and the whole line was low so I could see, and I spun right. I should have scored.''

He did the next play, anyway, on a 2-yard touchdown in the second quarter. Hill added a 6-yard score midway through the fourth quarter after not logging a carry in the third.

Hill rushed for 2,168 yards and 16 touchdowns last season. He finished second in the voting for the Harlon Hill Trophy given to Division II's top player and fared well against defenders from bigger schools, too.

Marve connected on a pair of long passes to set up scores for the Stripes.

He fired a 54-yarder to Notre Dame's Robby Toma in the third quarter but his third-down pass into the end zone was broken up by Air Force's Alex Means to force a field goal.

Later in the quarter Marve found Roy Roundtree of Michigan with a 39-yard, over-the-shoulder pass down the right sideline. Marve then threw for a 13-yard touchdown to Tyron Laughinghouse of Division II Saint Augustine.

Marve, who ranked third in the Big Ten in passing efficiency last season, also had a ball poked out from behind for a fumble on another promising drive, and the pick came off a deflection.

``I thought I had a very strong game with a couple of funny plays,'' said Marve, who started 11 games for the Miami Hurricanes in 2008 before transferring.

He said he wasn't surprised by the performances of Hill and Laughinghouse.

``Those guys were playing well throughout the week so it was no surprise to me,'' Marve said. ``

Virginia's Perry Jones added 42 yards rushing on 12 carries.

Pittsburgh's Tino Sunseri was the Stars' most productive quarterback. He was 8-of-18 passing for 105 yards but was intercepted twice.

Derrick Washington of Division II Tuskegee - about a half-hour from the stadium - gained 57 yards on 10 rushes for the Stars. Jacksonville State's Washaun Ealey, a Georgia transfer, had seven carries for 42 yards. Jaron Brown of Clemson was the game's leading receiver with six catches for 63 yards for the Stars.

Defensively, Prentiss Waggner (Tennessee) and Brandon Hepburn (Florida A&M) had interceptions on back-to-back plays in the third quarter, both off deflections.

Mississippi State's Cameron Lawrence had a game-high seven tackles for the Stripes.

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Nationals veterans want to be clear chemistry matter as much as analytics

Nationals veterans want to be clear chemistry matter as much as analytics

WASHINGTON -- Inside the age discussion around Washington’s older team is another percolating topic. Those same members of the 30-plus realm also tend to roll their eyes -- to a degree -- at analytics.

Multiple veterans have pushed back at the influence of statistical analysis on success. They are not discounting it on the whole. They are trying to add emphasis on the human element, the so-called “eye test” and, no matter how it is received elsewhere, express their thoughts about information overload.

Washington's organization remained scout heavy even as it developed its in-house analytics system named “Pentagon”. General manager Mike Rizzo comes from a scouting background. He also spearheaded a push for more depth in the organization’s analytics department, capping those efforts by promoting Mike DeBartolo and Sam Mondry-Cohen to assistant general manager positions before the season began. 

Both were reared in the organization. DeBartolo graduated from Tufts University, then Columbia Business School. He worked at an investment advisory firm prior joining the Nationals as an intern in baseball operations seven years ago. Mondry-Cohen is charged with “the front office’s analysis of baseball data and the development of department-wide baseball systems.” He went to the University of Pennsylvania, and, like DeBartolo, began his work as a baseball operations intern.

Next to Rizzo, they represent balance. Rizzo ascended from assistant college coach to regional scout to director of scouting in Arizona, where a portion of his roster-building technique (starting pitching, plus more starting pitching) was honed. He consistently touts the club’s scouts. 

Davey Martinez was hired to use more information and deploy it. In all, the Nationals have tried to balance the sides while keeping a large emphasis on scouting.

At this point, the distribution and absorption of information is more of a challenge than discovering or creating it. One thing Scherzer pointed out about Juan Soto is his ability to process so much information so quickly. Soto mostly does this via experience, not charts and scouting reports. Another thing Scherzer pointed out at the All-Star Game was his irritation the weight of analytics now possesses in the game.

“Everybody thinks this is just a math game and a numbers game, and you just look at WAR, and you know your team,” Scherzer said. “We can have projections and models -- you name it -- and that’s baseball. That’s not baseball. 

“Baseball’s played by humans. We’re humans. We experience emotions and we’re pretty good about channeling what it takes to compete every single day, but when you get a good clubhouse and you get some good energy, good vibes, it makes it easy for everybody to compete at the same level. I feel like that’s what we have going on. We have very good clubhouse. Everybody’s kind of settled in their roles. We all know how to clown on each other, have fun, when anybody makes a mistake -- my God, I’ve been making a heck of a lot of mistakes lately, everybody is getting a good laugh at -- that’s a sign of a winning club.”

Rendon uses analytics as a key to jokes about his success. When he beat out a grounder after returning from quad and hamstring tightness, he told reporters to “Statcast me.” Asked during the National League Division Series why this became his best statistical year, he sent another zing.

“Launch angle,” Rendon said with a smile. “No. Yeah, I really don't know. I've been getting a lot of those questions lately or at least this season. And I think if I actually knew, if I changed anything or if I knew if I was going to have this type of season, I actually would have done it a long time ago and I wouldn't have waited six or seven years into it. But I think that, man, I say all the time, I think I'm partly, I'm getting lucky.”

The idea of simplicity -- and the human touch -- trickles down to the initial assessments when hunting the next prospect. Johnny DiPuglia, Nationals director, international operations, explained the club’s player-hunt philosophy is less about using technology to assess spin rate and more about finding the best player on the field.

“We don't complicate ourselves with all this analytic stuff that's out now with all this TrackMan (pitching analysis) and all the Blast (swing analysis sensor and software) and all this stuff that is used," DiPuglia said. "We go out in the field, we beat the bushes and we watch games. We try to find the best player on the field, get the checkpoints and if he checkpoints the profile of a big-league position, we evaluate the numbers money-wise and try to sign the kid. We do it to the simplest form here. We don't try to complicate things.

“The game is the same game it was 50 years ago. Unfortunately, now it's a little more complicated and too much information is given.”

The contrast between the Nationals and their likely World Series opponent, Houston, is striking. Astros shortstop Carlos Correa is on the box of the Blast “complete hitting solution.” Tomes have been written about Houston’s application of analytics when restructuring and rebooting its organization. Its success indisputably shows the process has worked: The Astros won the World Series in 2017, made it to the ALCS in 2018 and are back there again in 2019. Five years ago, they lost 92 games. Baltimore hired former Houston assistant general manager Mike Elias to repeat the process.

In Washington, the veteran-filled clubhouse casts a wary eye toward analytics. Their process has been simpler. They believe in the karma coming out of their room. Many of them think its value rivals that of deep scouting reports or color-coded charts. Whatever the formula, it was enough to finally breakthrough and reach the World Series.

Chase Hughes contributed to this report.

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Redskins vs. 49ers Week 7: Date, time, TV channel, live stream, how to watch

Redskins vs. 49ers Week 7: Date, time, TV channel, live stream, how to watch

The Redskins finally got into the win column for the first time this season when they stopped a late two-point conversion attempt to hold on for a 17-16 win over the Dolphins in Week 6.

They now turn their sights to the undefeated 49ers, who boast the NFL’s third-best scoring offense (29.4 PPG) and second-best scoring defense (12.8 PPG). San Francisco dismantled the Rams 20-7 last week to give the team its first 5-0 start since 1990.

Bill Callahan will make his FedEx Field debut as the Redskins’ interim head coach, hoping to carry over the success his offense had on the ground (145 rushing yards) in Miami.

Washington is 11-20-1 against the 49ers all time, last meeting on Oct. 15, 2017, when the Redskins won 26-24 behind Kirk Cousins’ 330 yards and three total touchdowns.

Here’s everything you need to know about the Redskins’ Week 6 matchup in Landover:

REDSKINS vs. 49ERS WEEK 7

Who: Washington Redskins (1-5) vs. San Francisco 49ers (5-0)

What: Game 7 of the 2019 NFL regular season

When: Sunday, Oct. 20, 2019, 1:00 p.m. ET

Where: FedEx Field, Landover, Maryland

TV Channel: FOX

Live Stream: Pregame and postgame coverage streaming on NBCSportsWashington.com

Radio: Redskins Radio Network

Spread: 49ers, -10

Over/Under: 40.0

Weather: 57 degrees, rain expected

REDSKINS vs. 49ERS TV SCHEDULE:

8:30 a.m.: Pro Football Weekly

9:00 a.m.: Inside the Redskins

9:30 a.m.: Redskins Kickoff Preview

10:00 a.m.: Redskins Coach's Show

10:30 a.m.: Redskins Talk: Week 7

11:30 a.m.: Redskins Preview: D.C. Sports Live

12:00 p.m.: Redskins Kickoff Live

4:00 p.m.: Redskins Postgame Live 

5:00 p.m.: Redskins Overtime Live

REDSKINS 2019 SEASON SCHEDULE:

Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 8, Redskins at Eagles (L, 32-27)

Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 15, Cowboys at Redskins, (L, 31-21)

Week 3: Monday, Sept. 23, Bears at Redskins, (L, 32-27)

Week 4: Sunday, Sept. 29, Redskins at Giants, (L, 24-3)

Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 6, Patriots at Redskins, (L, 33-7)

Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 13, Redskins at Dolphins, (W, 17-16)

Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 20, 49ers at Redskins, 1 p.m.

Week 8: Thursday, Oct. 24, Redskins at Vikings, 8:20 p.m.

Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 3, Redskins at Bills, 1 p.m.

Week 10: BYE

Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 17, Jets at Redskins, 1 p.m.

Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 24, Lions at Redskins, 1 p.m.

Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 1, Redskins at Panthers, 1 p.m.

Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 8, Redskins at Packers, 1 p.m.

Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 15, Eagles at Redskins, 1 p.m.

Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 22, Giants at Redskins, 1 p.m.

Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 29, Redskins at Cowboys, 1 p.m.

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