While you’re here, we’d like you to consider subscribing to Pistols Firing and becoming a PFB+ member. It’s a big ask from us to you, but it also comes with a load of benefits like ad-free browsing (ads stink!), access to our premium room in The Chamber and monthly giveaways.The other thing it does is help stabilize our business into the future. As it turns out, sending folks on the road to cover games and provide 24/7 Pokes coverage like the excellent article you just read costs money. Because of our subscribers, we’ve been able to improve our work and provide the best OSU news and community anywhere online. Help us keep that up. Let’s take a look at some news around the league from this week. Reforming the BearsTram highlighted some positive news coming out of Waco on Monday.They want governmental involvement. They want to tear back the shroud that accompanies private schools. That shows the seriousness with which some Baylor supporters view the scandal.That’s a very good thing.The Baylor group staged town hall meetings in February, urging support for reforms.“The root of all this is lack of leadership, and we believe there needs to be major changes to leadership,” Williams, whose group organized in November, said in February. “I will say I’m encouraging those on the board who feel the way that we do to stand up to the rest of the people on the board and say, ‘It’s time to have full transparency and accountability and not to have this attitude of coverup and dribbling out facts on a narrow basis.’”This Baylor group offers hope that reform will come to Baylor, and that the culture will change. [NewsOK]Private universities are allowed to operate under a shroud of secrecy because they don’t receive (as much) public funding as state schools do. Now the fact that they do receive some funding for scholarships and such leaves them in a gray area, where taxpayer insight is fair to ask for.Here is an example of a Baylor alum and leader (the playing surface in McLane Stadium is named after him) stumping for public oversight to avoid covering up the truth in the future. Not for the demise of the school but for truth to come out so that victims can be vindicated, miscreants to bear the full weight and for the university to rebuild and move on.Stuck DoorsThe Sooners could use the excuse that the Big 12’s perception is holding them back but good luck doing anything about it.President David Boren has taken his shots at the Big 12 at different times. But exiting a power conference isn’t easy. There’s the granting of rights that runs through 2024-25 and coincides with the Big 12’s TV contracts with Fox and ESPN. Challenging a grant of rights could be expensive and time consuming legally. Does Oklahoma want out badly enough to force the issue? And what about Oklahoma State, which has been viewed as partner with OU in any realignment? [SportsDay]Porter had some great thoughts on the topic, namely the long-term unstable environment that is media deals and in turn, how the green on the other side of the fence may not be that color forever. As a fan of a non-helmet school, the idea of landing somewhere sooner than later seems ideal but the question for all involved is when can they get there.Until the grant of rights is broken (or the mid 2020s), this flying-the-coop business is just off-season fodder.Free Agent SigningsGundy provided some good thoughts on graduate transfers in college football.If signing day is college football’s version of the draft, the grad transfer practice has become its free agency.“These young men who come in, they know everything,” Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said. “They’re smart. They’re college graduates. They know this is their last year and are looking for somewhere where they can fit in.”The grad transfer rule, adopted in 2006, allows players — already physically developed and usually rather seasoned — who earn their undergraduate degree before completing their eligibility to transfer without having to sit out. Quarterback Russell Wilson became the cover boy for grad transfers when he left North Carolina State in 2011 to play his final season at Wisconsin, and led the Badgers to a Big Ten championship.The movement has since ballooned.“It’s changed in the last couple of years,” Gundy said. “It’s become so popular now.” [ESPN]The Pokes have had a defensive player per grad transfer since 2013 (Tyler Patmon from KU, Josh Furman from Michigan, Michael Hunter from Indiana, Lenzy Pipkins from UL-Monroe and this year’s Adrian Baker from Clemson) to go with Barry J. Sanders and Aaron Cochran, a boon for the Cowboys.Other teams in the league have benefitted as well: OU has had a receivers (Kentucky’s Jeff Badet this year, Penn State’s Geno Lewis) and Texas recently made a play for LSU quarterback Brandon Harris as a grad transfer. We have yet to see a Russell Wilson-to-Wisconsin magnitude of transfer in the Big 12 but it’s a trend to watch.The Right QuestionBerry Tramel gets to the heart of the issue of what’s ailing the Big 12: recruiting.All of the Big 12’s recruiting has suffered since the conference was raided by other leagues. In the six drafts from 2006-11, Texas had 32 draft picks, but just the 13 since. OU had six first-round picks, with just Lane Johnson since.Television money has been the driving force of conference realignment. But when the Big 12’s talent doesn’t trump the American Conference’s talent, when the dregs of the SEC are recruiting better than some of the Big 12’s better programs, when Texas is getting lapped by Texas A&M in recruits’ homes, when OU is getting outrecruited not just by Alabama and LSU, but by Ole Miss and Florida and Florida State, the football people jump on the bean-counters’ bandwagon.Recent NFL drafts tell us the sobering truth that Big 12 recruiting must pick up, or the conference is doomed. [NewsOK]Berry discerned that the right question is how in the world the Big 12 is remaining so competitive with so little NFL production. Reading the absurd but true facts that Western Michigan tied Big 12 draftees in the first two rounds this year and that the American had more players drafted than the Big 12 makes you really wonder.The bitterest pill to swallow is that there’s hardly a positive conclusion to come to – just do what you can with what you can get.
Plant foot is literally facing backwards. Bad footwork = bad ball placement. pic.twitter.com/bRcVZk68mQ— Adam Lunt (@AdamLunt817) May 7, 2017It was a lot of fun watching all of these games again, this period of the year is what I call the sports death hole and got me excited about football again. My summary would be that Rudolph is an excellent QB and a really strong candidate to be a good NFL QB as well. I think he needs to shore up some of his footwork issues and work on short/intermediate throws, but I think he’s in line for a big year. At this point I would rank him 4th overall for QBs in regards to the 2018 NFL Draft and pretty much a lock for 1st round pick.One more thing, someone please take the WVU 2015 offensive tape and set it on fire. I have no idea how we won that game. Prob shouldn’t have thrown into double coverage but great touch right in between 2 defenders. Hold on 66, called back ? pic.twitter.com/3XtzK44tq0— Adam Lunt (@AdamLunt817) May 7, 2017This is one of my main knocks on Wyoming’s Josh Allen, who I’m sure most of you have heard rumors on him being a prime candidate for the No. 1 overall pick next year. I’m not on that bandwagon. He has a cannon arm but really only throws fastball and doesn’t show consistent touch. A big arm will only get you so far, just ask Jeff George. Rudolph shows great touch on a variety of throws in the games listed above, being able to diagnose the coverage and drop balls with accuracy into tight windows.One of my favorites. This is NFL throw. Anticipation, Ball thrown before MA clears LB. Big 4th down conversion. pic.twitter.com/lVxyuQKDVi— Adam Lunt (@AdamLunt817) May 7, 2017I think Rudolph has plenty of velocity, this was shown on a few 10-18 yard out routes that were on the opposite hash and was able to get the ball there fine. The issue here is consistency, and I pair this with not being 100 percent confident in all of this throws. You could chart every single out route or hitch in intermediate range (10-18 yards) outside of the hashes and he throws with tremendous velocity and accuracy at an unbelievable rate. Actually I don’t think I recall one throw where he had sufficient time that he missed in that area. Simply put, it’s his best throw.Where you see inconsistencies are on quick passes in the slot and throws over the middle – both in accuracy and velocity. He just doesn’t seem as comfortable here, however there are plenty of examples where he is given time and rips a ball with good ball placement. It absolutely needs to be a point of emphasis this season, more consistency is needed. NOTE: coming into this study I was under the impression Rudolph was really strong in intermediate throws over the middle, I was wrong to a certain extent.There is a lot of discussion on Rudolph’s deep ball, specifically Pro Football Focus designating him as one of the best in this area. This certainly showed up on the tape. He showed consistent ability to throw the ball deep with accuracy and touch. He rarely overthrows deep balls (I believe I counted four in those six games, OSU throws the ball deep a lot), and if he misses he will short arm it a tad.I can live with this because I think it still gives the WR a chance to go up and get the ball. Especially with the back shoulder throws these days and how WRs are taught to look back, it’s an effective strategy. Given the ability of Lacy, Washington and Ateman to go up and high point underthrown balls, it’s not really a huge issue.His mobility will probably be something that will be discussed at length throughout the year. Rudolph has average athleticism, he is better really in more of a straight line running. I think his lateral quickness is actually below average. His pocket presence is solid, but at times is unable to bounce out of the picket and buy more time. A huge part of pocket presence isn’t really running, it’s slight movements up/back/left/right to buy just 1-2 more seconds to get a pass off.He is able to pick up first downs on the ground at times.Another problem is for Rudolph to consistently deliver good balls he really needs to have time and have his feet set, I don’t necessarily think his mobility will enable him to break away from consistent pressure to do this.Rudolph really struggles with short passes, under five yards and at or behind the line of scrimmage. You can clearly see at times that his footwork falls apart here, and like I mentioned earlier shows little/no confidence on some of these throws. A lot of these throws call for him to get set and throw the ball immediately after the snap, and it’s just not his comfort zone. I charted at least nine throws that were high on routes seven yards or less, there were other ones that were wide or short as well. He has a tendency to float some of these balls as well, which supports my theory that he doesn’t feel confident enough to throw the ball with zip. More often than not these balls were so bad they were incomplete or so high they gave the WR no opportunity for YAC. While you’re here, we’d like you to consider subscribing to Pistols Firing and becoming a PFB+ member. It’s a big ask from us to you, but it also comes with a load of benefits like ad-free browsing (ads stink!), access to our premium room in The Chamber and monthly giveaways.The other thing it does is help stabilize our business into the future. As it turns out, sending folks on the road to cover games and provide 24/7 Pokes coverage like the excellent article you just read costs money. Because of our subscribers, we’ve been able to improve our work and provide the best OSU news and community anywhere online. Help us keep that up. Friend of the blog Adam Lunt (follow him on Twitter) broke down some Mason Rudolph film recently after all the buzz No. 2 has been getting for the 2018 NFL Draft. Hope you guys enjoy his evaluation of QB1.I recently did a pretty extensive film study of Mason Rudolph, I also did one on what are considered the top six QBs in next year’s NFL Draft – Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, Josh Allen, Luke Falk, and Lamar Jackson. My hope was this would provide some context on my evaluation of Rudolph, hopefully to shake off any orange-colored glasses that I may or may not have. I have a mild obsession with the NFL Draft, specifically QBs and OL as they are the two hardest positions to scout in my opinion.I think a good starting point with Rudolph is his leadership and “intangible” qualities. I really like the Bill Parcells method of evaluating QBs, I’ve listed the requirements below. He pretty much knocks all of these out of the park. He almost qualifies for all of these with one full season left.Be a three year starter – CHECKBe a senior in college – CHECKGraduate from college – CHECK (assumption)Start 30 games – CHECKWin 23 games – CHECKPost a 2-1 touchdown to interception ratio – CHECKTally a completion rate of 60% or higher – CHECKI’ve seen every snap Mason Rudolph has ever played in college. However most of those games were viewed live after one or two beers (or something around there) so I went back and watched every snap of the following games — @WVU 2015, Ole Miss 2015, Central Michigan 2016, Pitt 2016, Texas 2016, and Colorado 2016.Some things that you will hear on Rudolph all season while getting geared up for the draft next year will be the scheme he plays in and how it doesn’t expand into more complex route combinations and coverage reads. I think it’s a fair assessment, OSU’s offense is quite simple in terms of progressions and also route trees and doesn’t include a ton of anticipation throws.The core routes are go route, hitch, out, smash/corner, slant, seam and dig. There are a few good examples of Rudolph going through proper progressions but only a handful where he makes it to a 3rd option, which is usually some type of check down.These are the types of things NFL teams will hold against Rudolph come April 2018. Personally I don’t put a lot of stock in this, but I know a lot of people involved in draft process will. With the NFL going to more spread-based concepts by the day, I think Rudolph is more than competent enough to pick up on a NFL playbook.One thing that really pops out at you immediately is Rudolph’s touch. One of his best strengths is knowing when drive the ball on a rope or try to put more air underneath it to hit a certain spot, this is a big deal specifically in layered coverage you will see in the NFL. There are some really great examples of this, two throws to Austin Hays actually come to mind from Texas and Colorado games in addition to the dime he threw to McKleskey against Texas for a TD.
Oklahoma State has been in the public eye this summer. And it’s not just because of its head coach’s antics or hairstyle. The Cowboys’ offense could be otherworldly with Heisman candidate Mason Rudolph and maybe the best receiving corps in the college football.But the biggest reason for optimism for 2017 and beyond is the rising star of Justice Hill.The Freshman All-American became the Cowboys’ first 1,000-yard rusher since Joseph Randle in 2012, effectively reviving a downtrodden ground game. When he broke Thurman Thomas’ freshman rushing record in Week 11, OSU fans knew they had something special.AdChoices广告Now Hill’s star has been recognized by college football’s awards committees. Hill was named as a candidate for the Doak Walker Award this week, given annually to college football’s best running back. The list includes 61 returning college running backs but only seven underclassmen.Hill led all FBS freshman with 1,142 yards and added six touchdowns while starting only 10 games. That was the fifth-highest rushing season for any Big 12 freshman and earned him Big 12 Newcomer of the Year and second-team All-Big 12 honors. He was voted a Freshman All-American by the Football Writers Association of America and USA Today.“He’s been huge for us,” said Mason Rudolph recently. “He added some weight this offseason, squatted like 560 pounds this morning. He’s hovering about 200 pounds. He’s a lot bigger than last year.”Other Big 12 running backs included were Kyle Hicks from TCU and Alex Barnes and Justin Silmon from Kansas State. Ten semifinalists will be announced on November 15 and three finalists on November 20. The winner will be announced during The Home Depot College Football Awards on Thursday, December 7 on ESPN. While you’re here, we’d like you to consider subscribing to Pistols Firing and becoming a PFB+ member. It’s a big ask from us to you, but it also comes with a load of benefits like ad-free browsing (ads stink!), access to our premium room in The Chamber and monthly giveaways.The other thing it does is help stabilize our business into the future. As it turns out, sending folks on the road to cover games and provide 24/7 Pokes coverage like the excellent article you just read costs money. Because of our subscribers, we’ve been able to improve our work and provide the best OSU news and community anywhere online. Help us keep that up.
Is this the year? The season OSU finally gets over the hump?Is this the year they dethrone Oregon for the best uniforms in college football?! With the upgraded jerseys & plethora of helmets OSU is truly close to calling itself the best dressed in the nation. With that, let’s look back at 2016.5. Central Michigan: Black/Black/Gray[USATSI]If the helmet had the brand (chrome!) or the badge, it would be top two. I’ve wanted to see Black-Gray-Black since 2011, and this is a glimpse of its prowess. Black and gray is an awesome look and the orange numbers are a nice compliment.AdChoices广告4. Southeastern Louisiana: White (Brand)/Orange/White[USATSI]Full disclosure: I’m not a White-Orange-White connoisseur. I guess I like the non-traditional looks more because I’ve seen WOW a majority of my life. This is strictly because of the brand – Only worn once the entire season! Is the brand a thing of the past? Is the badge the official logo now? I like the badge and will address it later but I’m worried about the brand, guys. By the way, what if I told you in the mid-2000s about a helmet with a black face mask, black stripe & metallic brand? Would you need CPR? I would. Keep in mind OSU was wearing these monstrosities back then.3. West Virginia (HC): Black (Retro Brand)/Orange/White[USATSI]“BY GAWD!!! THAT’S JIMMY JOHNSON’S MUSIC!!!” The throwback helmet was done so well I think my Dad thought he was watching ESPN Classic. I just wish they could go full-throwback with the jersey & pants, as well. Anyway, the homecoming helmet has become an annual thrill to see what the equipment staff comes up with and this was their best one yet.2. TCU: White (Badge)/White/Black[USATSI]This is a perfect road uniform. There is really no way to understate how crucial the switch to black numbers is. The numeral pops on its own but paired with the black pants is perfection. I was leery at first but it’s really grown on me: I’m all-in on the aforementioned badge. If they aren’t going to wear the brand…Badge > Pete.1. Texas: Black (Badge)/Black/Black[USATSI]All-black is foolproof. When you are one of the few schools with black as an official school color (looking at you, TCU & Baylor. High school move.) you must take advantage. There’s not a more intimidating look than all-black, everything. Throw-in the badge & chrome face mask and this combo is among the best in the nation. While you’re here, we’d like you to consider subscribing to Pistols Firing and becoming a PFB+ member. It’s a big ask from us to you, but it also comes with a load of benefits like ad-free browsing (ads stink!), access to our premium room in The Chamber and monthly giveaways.The other thing it does is help stabilize our business into the future. As it turns out, sending folks on the road to cover games and provide 24/7 Pokes coverage like the excellent article you just read costs money. Because of our subscribers, we’ve been able to improve our work and provide the best OSU news and community anywhere online. Help us keep that up.
Because this is Glenn Spencer, of course, he had to toss in a warning about getting too high on his squad.“We have to get more disciplined in our pass rush lanes, all that’s correctable,” said Spencer. “Nothing schematically really hurt us at all. But it was just the effectiveness of their quarterback running the ball and losing contain a couple of times. (We) had a lot of tremendous stops out there though.”One misconception about Big 12 defense — Oklahoma State’s in particular — is that they have to be great on scoring defense. They don’t. They have to be good at limiting teams in points per drive and creating turnovers. OSU did both on Thursday, and they moved to 72-22 in the Gundy era when creating two or more turnovers on the defensive side.They also held Tulsa to 1.2 points per drive which is a startling number that, if it stays there, will have OSU talking College Football Playoffs deep into this fall. While you’re here, we’d like you to consider subscribing to Pistols Firing and becoming a PFB+ member. It’s a big ask from us to you, but it also comes with a load of benefits like ad-free browsing (ads stink!), access to our premium room in The Chamber and monthly giveaways.The other thing it does is help stabilize our business into the future. As it turns out, sending folks on the road to cover games and provide 24/7 Pokes coverage like the excellent article you just read costs money. Because of our subscribers, we’ve been able to improve our work and provide the best OSU news and community anywhere online. Help us keep that up. There were flaws on Oklahoma State’s defense on Thursday night against Tulsa, for sure. Its pass rush was not as good as you maybe would have hoped, it gave up 16 first downs on Tulsa’s 26 third-down attempts and it didn’t force a turnover in the first half.But defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer said after the game that OSU did what it wanted to do against TU, and that was stop the run.TU running back D’Angelo Brewer averaged 5.2 and 5.4 yards per carry respectively over the last two years. He’s a stud, and was part of a 1-2 punch with James Flanders that finished Nos. 1 and 2 in the AAC in rushing yards. Tulsa averaged over five yards a carry in 2016 (No. 34 in the country).AdChoices广告On Thursday, Brewer averaged just 1.5 yards a carry and Tulsa as a team could muster just 4.1 (much of that coming on a fourth-quarter run of 55 yards after the game had long been decided).That’s a credit to Oklahoma State’s deep defensive front and speed at linebacker and in the secondary. Again, Tulsa, but OSU’s team speed seemed a tick or two higher than in years past. They will thrive if they create turnovers, as always, but it appears they’ll also be a little more forceful than normal this time around.“I was pleased at our run defense,” said head coach Mike Gundy after the game. “I thought that was very good and really set the tone for the game.”“We did great stopping the run, did a tremendous job,” added Spencer. “I don’t think they had anything on us. They had a 55-yarder but take that away and pretty good night with a team that fancies itself on running the ball.“That’s what our big concern was because they know how to run the ball effectively … it was impressive how we did against the run game.”
Manchester United 1 Sevilla 2 (1-2 agg): Ben Yedder brace dumps Mourinho’s men out Jamie Smith Last updated 1 year ago 05:37 14/3/2018 Getty Images Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United crashed out of the Champions League after Sevilla won 2-1 at Old Trafford thanks to Wissam Ben Yedder. Wissam Ben Yedder came off the bench to score the decisive goals as Sevilla moved into the quarter-finals of the Champions League with a stunning 2-1 away win at Manchester United.At a restless Old Trafford, United never got out of first gear and Sevilla, having dominated the opening leg at home without finding a way to beat David de Gea in a goalless draw, deservedly progressed.When Ben Yedder came off the bench with less than 20 minutes to play, the game was finely balanced with both sides aware the first goal would be decisive. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Williams case shows Solskjaer isn’t holding Man Utd’s youngsters back – he’s protecting them Goalkeeper crisis! Walker to the rescue but City sweating on Ederson injury ahead of Liverpool clash Out of his depth! Emery on borrowed time after another abysmal Arsenal display Diving, tactical fouls & the emerging war of words between Guardiola & Klopp And it proved to be the case as Ben Yedder made an immediate impact, collecting a pass from Ever Banega to smash in a low finish.With United reeling, Ben Yedder soon added his eighth goal of this season’s Champions League, De Gea unable to claw out the striker’s looping header.Jose Mourinho had already played his trump card, bringing on Paul Pogba, who was only fit enough for the bench, and United stumbled to a shock home defeat despite Romelu Lukaku sparking a grandstand finish.FT: @ManUtd 1-2 #SevillaFCDREAMS COME TRUE IN MANCHESTER!!! AFTER 60 YEARS WE ARE IN THE QUARTER-FINALS OF THE @ChampionsLeague #vamosmisevilla #UCL pic.twitter.com/jdQ1TjCra9— Sevilla FC (@SevillaFC_ENG) March 13, 2018Lukaku blazed wide in the second minute after a smart one-two with Jesse Lingard created an early opportunity for United.Joaquin Correa flashed a near-post header narrowly over the crossbar from Banega’s left-wing corner, with Luis Muriel then wasteful after Eric Bailly’s sloppy pass played Sevilla in.Muriel dragged another decent opening wide of the far post after Pablo Sarabia sent the winger through on goal, with Sevilla dominating the opening half-hour.United finally worked a clear opening in the 38th minute, a powerful drive from Marouane Fellaini beaten away by Sergio Rico after Alexis Sanchez turned a one-two into the path of the Belgium international, who was making his first start of 2018.49 – Ever Banega completed 49 of his 52 passes in the first half, at least 21 more than any Manchester United player. Dreamer. pic.twitter.com/CDViEmCTVl— OptaJose (@OptaJose) March 13, 2018Bailly’s superbly-timed challenge denied Correa in the box, then Rico had to make a smart save down to his right to turn a snapshot from Jesse Lingard around the post.With United lacking tempo on the ball and invention in midfield, Mourinho turned to Pogba on the hour-mark, the midfielder replacing Fellaini.United continued to be sloppy on the ball, Pogba curling a 72nd-minute effort narrowly wide, but it was a Sevilla substitute who came up with the opener.Ben Yedder had been on the pitch just 87 seconds when he controlled a smart pass from Banega, took a touch to steady himself and drilled a fine finish inside De Gea’s left-hand post.Before United could respond it was 2-0 and game over, chaotic defending allowing Ben Yedder to divert a goalbound header that a desperate De Gea was unable to stop crossing the line.19 – Wissam Ben Yedder has scored 19 goals in all comps this season, only Fekir & Griezmann (21) have scored more among the French players of the Top 5 European Leagues. Timely.— OptaJean (@OptaJean) March 13, 2018Lukaku sparked a late fightback by turning in a Marcus Rashford corner but United could not match Sevilla’s clinical edge in front of goal.De Gea denied Ben Yedder his hat-trick in added time, but it mattered little as Vincenzo Montella celebrated having masterminded a famous victory for his side. Key Opta Facts:- Including the 2011 final, Manchester United have only won one of their last nine Champions League knockout games (D3 L5).- After progressing from the last 16 in five successive seasons – United have now been eliminated at this stage in two of their last three Champions League campaigns (2012-13 and 2017-18).- This was the first defeat of a Premier League club by a La Liga club in the Champions League in 2017-18, at the ninth attempt (two wins for PL clubs, six draws).- Sevilla are just the third side to score 2+ goals at Old Trafford against United under Jose Mourinho (Manchester City, twice and Burnley).- Sevilla attempted 21 shots in this match – the most that Manchester United have allowed an opposition side at Old Trafford in a competitive match since Real Madrid attempted 22 in March 2013 (Champions League).- In fact, Manchester City are the only other side to beat Manchester United at Old Trafford in Mourinho’s tenure at the club (1-2 in September 2016 and 1-2 in December 2017).- David de Gea has conceded more goals in this match (2) than in his previous five Champions League games this season (1).- Wissam Ben Yedder’s first goal was the fastest scored by a substitute in the Champions League this season (87 seconds). read more
Primera División Is the BBC dead? Benzema & Bale now mere supporting actors on Real’s Ronaldo show Ben Hayward Last updated 1 year ago 17:15 17/3/2018 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(8) Getty Primera División Cristiano Ronaldo Gareth Bale Karim Benzema Real Madrid v Girona Real Madrid Girona Opinion Only one member of Los Blancos’ famous forward line is fully firing right now and with changes likely in the summer, the trident could soon be history Zinedine Zidane was crystal clear. When he took over from Rafa Benitez as Real Madrid coach in January 2016, the Frenchman would not reveal his preferred players for the starting line-up, but he was happy to announce one thing. “The idea is to play with the three in attack,” he said.Those three were Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo. Or as they are more commonly referred to by fans, the media and pundits in Spain, the BBC (taking, of course, one letter from each name: Bale, Benzema, Cristiano).These days, however, the trident is not what it was. Injury problems for Bale in particular meant the three rarely featured together last season and in January of this year, they all appeared on the pitch in unison for the first time in 273 days. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Williams case shows Solskjaer isn’t holding Man Utd’s youngsters back – he’s protecting them Goalkeeper crisis! Walker to the rescue but City sweating on Ederson injury ahead of Liverpool clash Out of his depth! Emery on borrowed time after another abysmal Arsenal display Diving, tactical fouls & the emerging war of words between Guardiola & Klopp In total, they had not featured in the same side for 43 consecutive games. And even in last season’s Champions League final when Bale came on as subsitute, it was in place of Benzema.The Welsh winger and the French forward have suffered from injuries and a dip in form again in the current campaign and have both been booed by fans at the Santiago Bernabeu. Meanwhile, Spanish sports paper AS has taken to writing bbC (and not BBC), with the initial of only Cristiano considered worthy of a capital letter.The first match they all started together this term was a 4-1 win away to Valencia, a result that brought plenty of optimism. However, they have only started four fixtures since: a 2-2 draw at Levante, a 4-0 win at home to Alaves, a 3-1 success against Getafe and last weekend’s 2-1 victory at Eibar.The Alaves game was the highlight as the three scored, doing so all together in the same match for the first time since April 2016 as Ronaldo handed the ball to Benzema for the Frenchman to convert a last-minute penalty.Earlier, Ronaldo had netted twice and Bale had also hit the target, with Benzema assisting twice before his late strike. It was a reminder of just how effective the three can be when all are on song.However, it is not really a trident any more because Zidane plays 4-4-2 and even against Alaves, Bale was deployed as a left winger in a four-man midfield, with Benzema and Ronaldo up front.And in the two Champions league last-16 clashes against Paris Saint-Germain recently, Bale was left on the bench both times, while Benzema often seems to get the nod because he is the club’s only senior centre-forward.”It’s true that Benzema isn’t scoring a lot, but he gives us other things,” Zidane said last week. “I’m positive and I believe the goals will come. And with Gareth there is nothing – he is a fundamental player for us.”However, Madrid will be targeting a new striker in the summer, with Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski one possibility, while Neymar and Eden Hazard are also likely to be transfer targets.None of that is much concern to Ronaldo, who is back to his best with 14 goals already this year. But Benzema and Bale are merely supporting actors for the Portuguese these days – and the BBC could soon be a thing of the past at Real Madrid.
While you’re here, we’d like you to consider subscribing to Pistols Firing and becoming a PFB+ member. It’s a big ask from us to you, but it also comes with a load of benefits like ad-free browsing (ads stink!), access to our premium room in The Chamber and monthly giveaways.The other thing it does is help stabilize our business into the future. As it turns out, sending folks on the road to cover games and provide 24/7 Pokes coverage like the excellent article you just read costs money. Because of our subscribers, we’ve been able to improve our work and provide the best OSU news and community anywhere online. Help us keep that up. When I chatted with Oklahoma State cornerbacks coach Tim Duffie on Monday, he brought up some interesting points about recruiting. Despite all the movement of signing dates and when you can talk to players (and when you can’t) and everything else that goes into recruiting at the Power 5 level, one thing has remained constant.Players are some of the most important recruiters you have, if not the most important.“It’s no different from any other job,” said Duffie. “If the guys you’re coaching don’t like it, it’s going to be hard to get guys in. Really create a culture — which I think we have here — where the players like it and bring guys in that are built on toughness and discipline — all the things they’re going to need in life.”I mentioned this on Wednesday, but while it’s easy to 🙄 at any mention of Cowboy Culture, it does matter when so many people can coalesce around anything, even more so a set of values that they all at least somewhat buy into.Culture matters in businesses. I don’t know why we act like football teams or sports organizations in general would be all that different. Or maybe it’s unfair to say *we* there … maybe I’m the only one who forgets that the 11-player units we watch on Saturdays are simply the end product of 200 people pulling in the same direction.“The one rule we have is not making a mistake to bring in somebody who doesn’t fit into the room,” said Duffie. “[The other players] do a good job telling me if they believe a guy wouldn’t be our cup of tea.”Duffie has scored some good ones over the last few years with the help of the ones he recruited before them. From A.J. Green and Rodarius Williams to Tanner McCalister and Jayveon Cardwell to two guys I heard being raved about on Monday in Xavier Player and Demarco Jones. Duffie might not get the biggest stars, but his guys develop and play. And help get more guys who develop and play.Here’s what Cardwell said about Duffie and his teammates before heading to OSU back in 2017.“All the coaching staff has a laid-back personality. I really enjoyed talking to Coach Duffie. I felt like I could trust him. He’s very respectful. He valued me as a player and treated me differently than I’ve been treated by other coaches. I just really enjoyed that, it was great.”“I’m in a group message with the Oklahoma State commits. We talk almost daily just about us being a dominant force for our school. I’m excited to get back up there and meet the new people.” [PFB]I asked Duffie on Monday who the best recruiter of his current crop of CBs is, and he sank into a bit of coach speak that I also actually believe based on what I know about the guys in his CB room.“I don’t have a bad one.”
My frolleagues (friends/colleagues) Jocelyn and Qui generously have shared the following presentation which answers the eternal existential question: “To blog or not to blog?” Enjoy.
ShareEmailPrint To learn more, read: Posted on March 4, 2009November 13, 2014Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Launching the Maternal Health Task Force: Reaching Consensus on the Draft Terms of Reference, February 17 & 18, Washington, DC I am pleased to report that the launch phase of the Maternal Health Task Force is complete and its work is now underway. You can now download a report of our launch meeting(PDF, 60kb) held two weeks ago in Washington, D.C. and the participant list (PDF, 28kb). More information will come soon as the Terms of Reference are finalized, our team is recruited, the website is constructed, and projects are activated. We look forward to working with you to improve the health of women, families and communities around the world. Again, many thanks.– AnaShare this:
Colombia 1 Japan 2: Sanchez red spoils Pekerman’s plans Stephen Creek Last updated 1 year ago 21:53 6/19/18 Getty Images Colombia got off to a nightmare start when Carlos Sanchez was sent off after less than three minutes of their 2-1 defeat to Japan. Carlos Sanchez was shown the second-fastest red card in World Cup history as Colombia slipped to a 2-1 defeat in their World Cup opener against Japan in Mordovia.The Group H favourites suffered a nightmarish start to their campaign when Sanchez blocked Shinji Kagawa’s shot with his arm after just two minutes and 56 seconds, prompting the referee to brandish the first straight red card for handball at a World Cup since Luis Suarez was sent off against Ghana in 2010.Kagawa then put Japan ahead from the penalty spot but even with 10 men Jose Pekerman was able to make his side competitive and Juan Fernando Quintero levelled with a free-kick six minutes before half-time. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Perfection from Pulisic: Chelsea’s Captain America has arrived in the Premier League Why always Raheem? ‘Unplayable’ Sterling setting a standard Man City’s other stars need to match ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Pekerman brought on 2014 World Cup Golden Boot winner James Rodriguez in the second half but the Bayern Munich star, not fully recovered from a calf injury, was not allowed much of the ball by a disciplined, energetic Japan side.Akira Nishino’s men came into the tournament as one of the lowest ranked teams but they defied their position by making good use of their man advantage and fully deserved to have their lead restored when FC Koln forward Yuya Osako headed the winner in the 73rd minute.Victory over Colombia will give Japan hope of progressing beyond the group stage for the first time since 2010, while Pekerman will hope that James can return to full fitness in time for their forthcoming clash with Poland.02:56 – Carlos Sanchez’s red card after two minutes and 56 seconds is the second fastest shown in World Cup history, after Jose Alberto Batista for Uruguay vs Scotland in 1986 (54 seconds). Handed. #COL #COLJPN #WorldCup— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 19, 2018The game was less than three minutes old when Sanchez blocked Kagawa’s 20-yard shot with his arm and the referee pointed to the penalty spot before showing the midfielder a straight red card.After lengthy protests, Sanchez eventually left the field and Kagawa was allowed to slot the penalty clinically into the bottom right corner of the net and Colombia’s game plan was in tatters.Despite the double setback, the South Americans attacked and Radamel Falcao got a toe to Quintero’s looping pass into the penalty area but could only poke the ball into the arms of veteran Japan goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima.Jose Pekerman shuffled his pack on the half-hour mark, replacing Juventus winger Juan Cuadrado with Boca Juniors midfielder Wilmar Barrios, and an equaliser arrived nine minutes later.Falcao won a dubious free-kick after a challenge with Makoto Hasebe and Quintero’s ensuing free-kick was driven low into the bottom left corner of the net where Kawashima arrived just too late to stop it from crossing the line.After a frantic first half, the game slowed in the second but Osako burst into the Colombia box and drew a save from David Ospina with a tricky close-range shot that the Arsenal goalkeeper parried away.Ospina was called into action again moments later, diving full length to his left to push Takashi Inui’s curling 20-yard shot away from danger, before Pekerman sent on James as he sought a way to turn the tide back in favour of his side.But Japan were dominating possession and their pressure told when substitute Keisuke Honda’s corner found Osako, who outjumped his marker and headed the ball into the far corner of the net, beyond Ospina’s reach.James had a sight of goal with 13 minutes remaining but his first-time shot from inside the penalty area was turned over the crossbar by the outstretched leg of Osako, and he will hope to regain full fitness in time to inspire Colombia to better results against Poland and Senegal.Key Opta Stats:- Japan have become the first Asian side to defeat South American opposition at the World Cup (P18 W1 D3 L14).- This is the first World Cup tournament in which as many as four South American teams have failed to win their opening game since 1974.- None of Colombia’s 19 games at the World Cup have ended goalless. The only nations that have played more games in the competition without recording a 0-0 are USA (33) and Austria (29).- Keisuke Honda is the first player from an Asian nation to provide an assist in three different World Cup tournaments since 1966.- There have been more direct free-kick goals scored in just 15 games at World Cup 2018 (4) than there were in the entire 2014 edition (3), with Colombia’s Juan Fernando Quintero netting the fourth.- Quintero became the first player to score in two different World Cup tournaments for Colombia (2014 and 2018). – Eiji Kawashima (35 years, 91 days) became the oldest player to appear for Japan in a World Cup finals match. read more
World Cup Colombia’s Pekerman wary of confident England in last 16 Harry West 05:00 6/29/18 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(0) Getty Images World Cup Colombia Senegal v Colombia Senegal Colombia v England England Colombia and England will meet in the last 16 of the World Cup and Jose Pekerman knows Gareth Southgate’s side are to be taken seriously. Jose Pekerman has warned Colombia they will face an “in harmony” England side in the World Cup second round.Colombia defeated Senegal 1-0 in Samara on Thursday to secure their qualification as winners of Group H, before a much-changed England, already through, finished second in Group G following their 1-0 loss to Belgium.Those results set up a last-16 meeting in Moscow on Tuesday, from which the victors will advance to a quarter-final with Sweden or Switzerland, in what is perceived to be the easier half of the draw. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Perfection from Pulisic: Chelsea’s Captain America has arrived in the Premier League Why always Raheem? ‘Unplayable’ Sterling setting a standard Man City’s other stars need to match ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar But Pekerman says there are no straightforward games once the tournament reaches the knockout phase.”I would always answer in the same way. We know any team that reaches the last 16 is good, the 16 best teams in the world,” he said.”Obviously they can have a good day or an even better day but the whole squad operates at a certain level.”England are a young team that is in harmony, very confident, they have excellent individual players and they’ve managed to pass the group stage quite comfortably.”I’m sure now a different type of match is heading our way. These will be to-the-death matches, so these are extreme situations, [you have] to play a great game from the beginning.”England has what it takes and it’s going to be a match in which Colombia will also be confident to get a good result.”Lots of changes. Fewer chances.#BEL finish top & face #JPN on Monday.#COL await #ENG on Tuesday.#ENGBEL pic.twitter.com/773rbZVpGa— FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) June 28, 2018Colombia’s progress spelled the end for Senegal, who finished with an identical record to Japan but were eliminated due to accruing more yellow cards than their rivals.”We all knew when we came to the World Cup that these were the rules,” Pekerman said. “There are clear rules and a clear understanding, you don’t often get teams that are so even and from the beginning you could tell this would be an even group.”It’s incredible to be in this situation, it’s hard for a team to take on.”Had we been in their shoes we would also be quite disappointed because one can sometimes think this is not a part of football but it happens and sometimes you finish a World Cup final on penalties, as in Italy vs Brazil [in 1994].”To lose a World Cup final on penalties is extremely hard and you need to accept the result, somehow you need to find a winner.”But when it comes to cards I guess players will have to start thinking about how important a card can be and as a coach we should also start thinking about this.”
World Cup ‘Go to penalties and pray’ – Fabregas ‘speechless’ following Russia’s upset of Spain Goal Last updated 1 year ago 01:15 7/2/18 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(2) Getty World Cup Russia Spain v Russia Spain The Chelsea star was shocked to see his country bounced from the World Cup by the host nation, who he claims had prayer as part of their gameplan Cesc Fabregas was among the those stunned by Spain’s World Cup exit at the hands of Russia. The 2010 World Cup champions were held to a 1-1 draw through regular time, scoring only from a Russian own goal before being pegged back from the penalty spot. Thirty minutes of extra time couldn’t do anything to separate the sides, and the host nation managed to find their way to the quarter-finals through penalties. Editors’ Picks Perfection from Pulisic: Chelsea’s Captain America has arrived in the Premier League Why always Raheem? ‘Unplayable’ Sterling setting a standard Man City’s other stars need to match ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Fabregas, who at half-time had claimed that Spain’s passing – which set World Cup records against Russia – was pointless , was still stunned by the final outcome. “I am speechless because I expected a different game today,” the 31-year-old said on BBC . “I think Spain is a much better side than Russia.”Russia had a plan which was to go to penalties and pray, and it paid off for them.”The former Barcelona man was also gutted to see Spanish legend Andres Iniesta’s career with the national side come to such a disappointing end. “Andres Iniesta doesn’t deserve to go out like this, in what could be his last game for Spain,” he said. Russia’s progression has taken another favourite out of a World Cup that had already seen 2014 champions Germany, Lionel Messi’s Argentina and Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal sides bounced. Spain’s exit means one of Russia, Croatia, Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland, England or Colombia will be playing in the World Cup final. Russia will take on either Croatia or Denmark in the quarter-finals.