Redskins

Old grudge match has new feel with Hoke, Meyer

Old grudge match has new feel with Hoke, Meyer

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) Once upon a time, ``The Game'' was just another game.

When Michigan and Ohio State played, sure, it was important. After all, the schools put it at the end of their schedules in 1935 in recognition of that fact.

But it never really was an epic battle until two longtime friends ended up on opposite sides and transformed it into an over-the-top grudge match.

``The Bo Schembechler/Woody Hayes era, when college football began to explode on a national level - that's what made this such a visual rivalry for the country to see,'' said Ohio State coach Urban Meyer.

Now, more than 40 years later, two coaches steeped in the rivalry - each more than willing to toss a little disrespect toward the other side - will be prowling the sidelines in the 109th meeting on Saturday.

Is this the second coming of the ``Ten Year War''?

``It's a new face for the rivalry, of course, but the rivalry is bigger than any one individual,'' said Michigan offensive lineman Patrick Omahmeh.

Just like Schembechler and Hayes, Meyer and Michigan's Brady Hoke are ultra-competitive Ohio natives who don't hide the fact that they can barely abide their chief rival.

Hoke refers to Ohio State as just ``Ohio,'' which makes Buckeyes fans' blood boil. Meyer has taken a page from Hayes and refuses to utter the ``M-word,'' instead calling it ``That Team Up North.''

A chippiness has returned to this staid old annual showdown. It was already evident a year ago when the sides traded shoves, obscenities and taunts in Hoke's first game (a 40-34 victory) as a head coach in the series.

It's even more palpable this year with Meyer joining the fray, 25 years after he was a graduate assistant on Earle Bruce's staff and learned firsthand from Hayes, Bruce and the others to despise the Wolverines.

Hoke is not sold on the theory that the head coaches, at least since the last of the 10 Schembechler-Hayes battles in 1978, have much influence on the rivalry. But he does agree that it doesn't hurt when both ``get'' what the game means to so many.

``There's a lot of passion on both sides,'' he said. ``When you've kind of grown up in the rivalry - either in the state of Ohio or in the state of Michigan - you understand it's the most important game of the year.''

Adding to the enmity this year - so often the case - is both sides having a lot riding on the outcome.

The fourth-ranked Buckeyes (11-0, 7-0 Big Ten) want to complete a perfect season - if perfection is even possible without going to a bowl. NCAA sanctions have sidelined Ohio State from the national championship conversation.

The Buckeyes have already won the Big Ten's Leaders Division, but cannot play in the title game next week. They will get a trophy and each of the players will be fitted for championship rings.

The No. 20 Wolverines (8-3, 6-1) are shooting to upgrade to an even better bowl. No one in maize and blue is saying it, but upsetting the Buckeyes' dreams of an unbeaten, untied season wouldn't be so bad, either.

The Wolverines were hoping to grab a spot in the Big Ten championship game, but No. 17 Nebraska - which owned the tie-breaker by virtue of its win over Michigan - beat Iowa 13-7 on Friday to represent the Legends Division. The Wolverines, who had playing in the title game as one of their major goals, can still grab a share of the division crown with a win over the Buckeyes.

Michigan's hopes rise and fall on a defense that leads the nation against the pass but is considerably less stout against the run - which happens to be Ohio State's strength.

The Buckeyes depend on quarterback Braxton Miller's legs, whether on set plays or when a pass play breaks down and he sprints past lunging linemen through the heart of the field for big yardage.

The Wolverines also rely on their quarterback. Now they just have to figure out who their quarterback is.

Devin Gardner has started the last three games, accounting for at least three TDs in each, since four-year star Denard Robinson hurt a nerve in his throwing elbow. Now Robinson may see time at tailback, in the slot, out wide or even under center. It's the biggest mystery in a game where there are few unknowns.

``I'm here and I'm ready for Ohio,'' Robinson said.

Hayes once co-wrote a book titled, ``You Win With People.'' He believed that it was the coach's domain to stockpile talent and then put players in the best position to win, but that the athletes did the rest.

Meyer believes coaches handle the preparation and set the tone.

``Getting your guys prepared up to the kickoff, getting the team mentally and physically ready to go,'' he said of his role. ``Ultimately it is the players who win or lose games.''

Spoken just like his iconic predecessors.

---

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

Quick Links

Why Daniel Jones might make sense if the Redskins truly believe they’re ‘close’

Why Daniel Jones might make sense if the Redskins truly believe they’re ‘close’

Daniel Jones seems unlikely to be the best quarterback in the 2019 rookie class. He also seems unlikely to be a bust.

Given the Redskins' history at the quarterback position, both recent and ancient, Jones’ lack of sexy upside might be his most attractive quality. 

Polarizing might not accurately portray this class of QBs. Divisive might be the better word. 

Kyler Murray ranks as the top prospect, and seems likely to be drafted first overall by the Arizona Cardinals. Still, some teams don’t believe he has the size or commitment to make it as an NFL signal caller.

After Murray there’s even less consensus. 

Dwayne Haskins has a big arm and great size, but only started one year in college and didn’t show much ability to read defenses in the Ohio State offense. Drew Lock makes some 'Wow!' plays, but then he also makes terrible plays. His most consistent traits are arm talent and inconsistency. 

In some order, Murray, Haskins and Lock probably mark the top three rated passers in the 2019 draft. 

Then comes Jones. 

The Duke quarterback does nothing that screams first-round pick. His combine numbers were good and his game film seems good. At the same time, there aren’t any real knocks against him either, other than Jones doesn’t have the super star potential the other three have shown. 

Jones isn’t a sexy pick. He’s not even a PG13 make-out scene pick. 

And that might be just what the Redskins want. 

For months, the Washington front office has repeatedly talked about being “close.” Close to what remains a question, but it must at least mean competing for the NFC East title and winning a playoff game. 

Well, of all the rookie passers, Jones might be the one that presents the least risk. He might not make jaw dropping deep throws or electric moves outside of the pocket, but he probably won’t throw 20-plus interceptions either. 

Last year, the Redskins traded for Alex Smith to run their offense. Smith’s best traits are controlling the football and making the smart, not sexy, play. 

You know what rookie could fit that mold? 

Certainly isn’t Murray. Probably isn’t Lock. And Haskins likely needs to sit a year to learn NFL offenses. 

Jones, however, has been playing in a pro system for years at Duke. He’s been coached by the Manning-Whisperer in David Cutcliffe. 

Veteran NFL personnel executives believe in Jones in a major way. Gil Brandt, a Hall of Fame former Cowboys GM, compared Jones to Peyton Manning. Seriously.

"When you watch him and you go back (20) years and watch Peyton Manning, you are watching the same guy. He's athletic," Brandt said on an SiriusXM pre-draft conference call. "He doesn't have a rocket for an arm, but neither did Peyton. Very smart."

ESPN's Mel Kiper believes Jones will be the best QB in this draft. Former Redskins GM Charley Casserly thinks Jones is the most ready for the NFL of any 2019 passer.

Add all of that up, and the Redskins taking Jones with the 15th overall pick starts to make sense. Then go back and listen to some Jay Gruden quotes, and it makes even more sense. 

Speaking at the NFL League Meetings in Arizona last month, Redskins head coach Jay Gruden explained that he likes winning low-scoring, grinding football games. 

"You try to protect the football and let the strength of your football team carry you through the tough times and hopefully your team or offense or special teams or offense will come through and make a play at a critical time," Gruden said. " It was a great recipe for us early. I like playing that way."

Of the rookie quarterbacks the Redskins might be able to get, Jones could be best suited for that style, especially in 2019. Not every analyst believes in Jones, including NBC Sports' Chris Simms. He doesn't even rate Jones in the top four QBs available this fall.

Regardless of the analysts, the Redskins believe they’re close, and need a quarterback that won’t lose them games. Of the rookie collection, Jones best fits that role.

Just by his risk taking nature, Lock will probably lose some games as a rookie. Maybe throughout his career. Haskins can play but the speed of the NFL will require a major adjustment for his game. Murray is dynamic, but his skill set requires a complete offensive overhaul for whatever team takes him. 

Add any of those three QBs to the Redskins and it’s hard to imagine the team competing for the playoffs in 2019. In the penultimate year of his contract, Gruden needs to compete for the playoffs in 2019. 

Last season, ugly or not, the Redskins legitimately looked on their way to a playoff spot. In Week 10, the team was 6-3. Injuries derailed those plans, but the roadmap was established. 

Even at 6-3, the Redskins hardly played aesthetically pleasing football. It sure as hell wasn't sexy. 

If the Redskins want to recreate that formula, and build on it for the future, Jones might be the best pick. 

In football, in sports, even in life, sometimes the best course of action is to avoid a major mistake and play it safe. 

The Redskins tried to that last year with Smith, but a broken leg disrupted the plan. 

It's entirely possible the Redskins don't take a quarterback in the first round, but if they do, Jones offers the best chance for a mulligan.

MORE REDSKINS NEWS: 

Quick Links

Baltimore Orioles Roundup: Late comeback falls short as Twins complete sweep

phillips-orioles-catcher-usat.jpg
USA TODAY Sports Images

Baltimore Orioles Roundup: Late comeback falls short as Twins complete sweep

After dropping both games of the doubleheader on Saturday, the Orioles comeback bid was just short on Sunday, as they fell 4-3 to the Minnesota Twins.

The loss marked a sweep for the Twins, and the second time the Orioles have been swept in Camden Yards this season.

PLAYER NOTES:

ORIOLES:

Outfielder Dwight Smith, Jr. is not expected to miss time due to injury, according to manager Brandon Hyde. Smith was removed during Sunday's loss with what was considered to be right quad tightness. While he may be held out a couple days, do not expect him to end up on the injured list.

Second baseman Johnathan Villar continues to impress early on in 2019. Villar stole his sixth base of the season (in 23 games) on Sunday, also adding three hits and an RBI during the loss. He continues to be a bright spot for a young Orioles team.

The Orioles defense did not help starting pitcher Dylan Bundy, who gave up four runs (two earned) over six innings on Sunday. In the first inning, Smith Jr. lost a fly ball in the sun that resulted in a three-base error, leading to two runs. Regardless, Bundy moved to 0-3 on the season with a 6.56 ERA, neither of which is very good.

TWINS:

Relief pitcher Taylor Rogers earned his second save of the series -- and third of the season -- on Sunday. Despite allowing a run, he could be emerging as the Twins go-to ninth inning arm, but manager Rocco Baldelli could continue to move forward on a game-by-game basis.

Outfielder Max Kepler missed the entire series against Baltimore with what was described as just an illness. His health is something to keep an eye on moving forward, as Kepler has not played since Thursday.

WHITE SOX:

Outfielder Jon Jay is traveling with the team, but it is unlikely if he will play in any of games in the upcoming series against Baltimore. Jay has yet to play this season after suffering a hip injury late in Spring Training.

Starting pitcher Lucas Giolito also will miss the entire series against Baltimore with a hamstring injury that sent him to the injured list. The right-hander has not had the best start to 2019, as he has a 5.30 ERA through four starts.

INJURIES:

OF Dwight Smith, Jr.: Quadriceps, day-to-day

RP Richard Bleier: Shoulder, 10-Day IL

SP Nate Karns: Arm, 10-Day IL

DH Mark Trumbo: Knee, 60-Day IL

COMING UP:

Monday 4/22: White Sox @ Orioles, 7:05 p.m., Oriole Park at Camden Yards 

Tuesday 4/23: White Sox @ Orioles, 7:05 p.m., Oriole Park at Camden Yards 

Wednesday 4/24: White Sox @ Orioles, 7:05 p.m., Oriole Park at Camden Yards 

Source: Rotoworld

MORE ORIOLES NEWS: