Nationals

Pelini: 10-tackle night just start for Huskers' LB

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Pelini: 10-tackle night just start for Huskers' LB

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) David Santos wanted to pass on redshirting his first season at Nebraska and play right away. His coaches, intrigued by his speed and tenacity, were tempted to relent and put him on the field.

The patience paid off.

Santos soaked up all he could from being around older teammates and spent extra time in the film room. When he stepped on the field against Michigan last Saturday, he didn't look like an ordinary first-time starter.

Santos made 10 tackles, including one for a loss, in the 21st-ranked Cornhuskers' 23-9 victory. Monday he was chosen one of the Big Ten's co-freshmen of the week.

``He can run, he's explosive, he can play in the open field and do some good things,'' coach Bo Pelini said. ``Now he's at a point where he's not going to hurt us. He's really helping us and doing some good things. He's nowhere near where I think he'll be in the future, but he's getting better.''

Pelini's defensive system is not easy for young players to grasp, and Santos had to put in his time. Santos didn't even play in the opener against Southern Mississippi.

The timetable for Santos was accelerated after Zaire Anderson went out with a knee injury in mid-September. Santos played some against Wisconsin and Ohio State but didn't really emerge until Oct. 20 against Northwestern.

He made three tackles against the Wildcats, including his first behind the line of scrimmage when he broke through and threw Kain Colter for a 2-yard loss.

Pelini deemed Santos ready to be a starting linebacker alongside Will Compton when the Huskers opened in their nickel package against Michigan.

When Denard Robinson handed off to Fitzgerald Toussaint on the second play, Santos was there to meet him for the first of his six solo tackles.

``He's starting to make that push to being the guy we thought he could be,'' defensive coordinator John Papuchis said.

With his playmaking ability on the perimeter, the 6-foot, 220-pound Santos is a perfect fit for the Huskers when they go against mobile quarterbacks and spread offenses.

Nebraska (6-2, 3-1 Big Ten) will see more of a pro-set offense at Michigan State (5-4, 2-3) this week, meaning the Huskers probably will employ more of their 4-3 base alignment.

``I'm not really sure where I'll be at,'' Santos said, ``but I feel like I might get a couple snaps during the game.''

Given how productive Santos can be, it's difficult to imagine him being off the field for long stretches.

Asked what differentiates Santos from other Nebraska linebackers, senior Alonzo Whaley said, ``He's just quicker.''

``He's a smaller guy. He'll pursue to the ball. I don't want to say he gives us something another linebacker doesn't. He has (a nose) for the ball just like guys you've seen in the past. He does a good job pursuing the ball.''

Whaley has taken Santos under his wing in the linebackers' meeting room. Whaley likes to give him advice and answer his questions. Whaley said Santos' humility is refreshing.

``He's good, quiet, willing to learn, takes notes,'' Whaley said. ``He's in that stage where he's trying to consume everything. He asks questions.

``You have to respect a guy like that who doesn't get above himself because he got a lot of playing time. The name of the game is that you can never learn too much, and he understands that at a young age. That makes his future a lot brighter.''

Santos was ranked among the nation's top 15 outside linebackers by Rivals.com when he was coming out of Klein Collins High School in Spring, Texas. Rivals also had him ranked among the top 40 overall players in the Lone Star state.

Arkansas, Kansas and Utah offered scholarships, but Santos picked Nebraska after making his official visit in October 2010. He attended the Huskers' game against Missouri and saw Pelini's defense sack Blaine Gabbert six times in a 31-17 win. Santos wanted to be a part of it.

A lack of depth at linebacker last year had Santos and the coaches thinking that he might step in and play immediately.

Looking back, Santos is glad he didn't, even though he found it difficult to not be able to play in games.

``It's an eye-opener, and it'll humble you real quick, realizing this is a whole `nother level of play,'' Santos said. ``Watching the first couple games and some of the tough losses, you think maybe if I had played I could have helped out. But that's not up to me; that's up to the coaches. I think everything worked out well in the end.''

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National League All-Star Game Roster Projection: How it will all break down

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USA Today Sports

National League All-Star Game Roster Projection: How it will all break down

In less than a month, the 2018 MLB All-Star game will take place at Nationals Park.

There are plenty of details that still need ironing out, but none are more important than the 64 players that will be taking the field at the Midsummer Classic.

Surely the Washington Nationals are hoping that many of their hometown stars will make the cut.

So, lets clear the air. How are the MLB All-Star rosters created? Well it is a combination of the fan vote, the player ballots, and the MLB Commissioners Office. No, it is not a 33-33-33 split, but rather a political (yet fair) process. Here is how it shakes out for there to be 32 players on each team:

  • Fan vote: eight position players in NL/ nine in AL (DH); plus final vote for each league
  • Player’s ballots: next 16 players in NL; 17 players in AL (five starting pitchers, three relievers must be chosen)
  • MLB Commissioner’s Office: seven NL players (four pitchers, three position players) and five AL players (four pitchers, one position player)

Keep in mind, the MLB Commissioner’s Office merely is just there to ensure that there is one representative from all 30 MLB teams. Additionally, the player’s ballots are generally in-line with statistics and name recognition.

So let’s see how this shakes out for the National League All-Star Game roster. This factors in the latest fan vote returns:

National League All-Star Roster Projection:

C – Buster Posey, Giants (Fan Vote), Wilson Contreras, Cubs (Player Ballot)
1B – Freddie Freeman, Braves (Fan Vote), Jose Martinez, Cardinals (Player Ballot), Justin Bour, Marlins (Commissioner’s Office)
2B – Ozzie Albies, Braves (Fan Vote), Scooter Gennett, Reds (Player Ballot)
3B – Nolan Arenado, Rockies (Fan Vote), Kris Bryant, Cubs (Player Ballot)
SS – Brandon Crawford, Giants (Fan Vote), Chris Taylor, Dodgers (Player Ballot)
OF – Nick Markakis, Braves (Fan Vote), Bryce Harper, Nationals (Fan Vote), Matt Kemp (Fan Vote), Albert Almora Jr., Cubs (Player Ballot), Charlie Blackmon, Rockies (Player Ballot), Corey Dickerson, Pirates (Player Ballot), David Peralta, Diamondbacks (Commissioner’s Office), Christian Yelich (Commissioner’s Office)

SP – Max Scherzer, Nationals (Player Ballot), Sean Newcomb, Braves (Player Ballot), Jon Lester, Cubs (Player Ballot), Aaron Nola, Phillies (Player Ballot), Jacob deGrom, Mets (Player Ballot), Mike Foltynewicz, Braves (Commissioner’s Office)

RP – Brad Hand, Padres (Player Ballot), Sean Doolittle, Nationals (Player Ballot), Josh Hader Brewers (Player Ballot), Wade Davis, Rockies (Commissioner’s Office), Kenley Jansen (Commissioner’s Office), Jeremy Jeffress (Commissioner’s Office)

Manager: Dave Roberts, Dodgers

After this, there will be one more player chosen by another fan vote. The MLB Commissioner’s Office, along with the manager, choses five players to be selected in the penultimate vote. 

This puts three Nationals on the All-Star team with the Braves leading the charge with five selections.

Now of course nothing ever goes to plan, but heck its baseball, not everyone will be happy.

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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: Suddenly the Caps are in need of a head coach

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USA TODAY Sports

Capitals Faceoff Podcast: Suddenly the Caps are in need of a head coach

Less than two weeks after winning the Stanley Cup, the Caps are in need of a new head coach.

Barry Trotz resigned as the Caps coach on Monday after he and the team failed to reach an agreement on a new contract. How did we get here and where do both parties go from here? JJ Regan and Tarik El-Bashir break it all down.

Check out their latest episode in the player below or listen on the Capitals Faceoff Podcast page.