There was really only one number that mattered on Saturday at Boone Pickens Stadium: 100. Mike Gundy notched win No. 100 in tremendous fashion as the Pokes took down a top 10 team.But there were a few others that stuck out as well. A look at those here.15: OSU is now 15-1 when winning the turnover battle 3-0 under Mike Gundy and 33-2 when winning it 3-1 or better.7: There are only seven active coaches with 100 or more wins with their current team. You can see that list here.4: OSU has now won four of its first five Big 12 games in seven of the last nine years. That’s a staggering number.19: OSU now has 19 wins over top 25 teams in the Gundy era and six over top 10 teams.2: There are 71 players nationally with 210 passing attempts or more. Nobody has fewer than Mason Rudolph’s two picks.1.25: OSU’s turnover margin per game is now 1.25. This ranks No. 4 in the nation and No. 1 in the Big 12.9: James Washington now has nine 100-yard games in his career and a catch in 27 straight contests. Here are all nine 100-yard games.32: QB1 now has 32 TDs at home in 12 career starts. Compare that to three picks. He’s also averaging 353 yards per game in those 12 starts at home. Stunning stats.11: Jalen McCleskey tied his career high with 11 receptions. he also had 11 against Central Michigan earlier this year.43: OSU’s average drive on Saturday started on its own 43. That’s a startling number. If that happens every game and you’re even an average team, you’re probably not going to lose many times.2: WVU has now given up 30 or more points twice this season and 35 or more just once (to OSU on Saturday). 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.
Our guy @BradF79 on Twitter looked at some advanced metrics yesterday to see how this weekend is going to turn out, and he is finishing that off today.Points Per Drive / Possession SuccessLike the drive numbers from yesterday, these numbers are non-adjusted. PPD has been discussed often on this blog but there’s a few different varieties here. Points per value drive are calculated on possessions that begin on the offense’s own side of midfield and reach at least the opponent’s 30-yard line. Points per long drive are calculated on possessions that begin inside the offense’s own 20-yard line. Points per remaining drive are calculated on possessions that begin within 80 yards of the end zone.In addition to the PPD numbers is a fairly new metric called possession success rate (PSR). Scores (touchdowns and field goals) are recorded as possession wins for the team with the ball and possession losses for the opponent. All other results are recorded as possession losses for the team with the ball and as possession wins for the opponent. Momentum possession wins are defined as possession wins that immediately follow another possession win (i.e. offensive score following a defensive stop, or vice versa). Reset possession wins are defined as possession wins that immediately follow a possession loss (i.e. defensive stop following a failed offensive possession, or offensive score following a failed defensive possession).OSU is doing fairly well on PPD. Their 2.68 PPD number is 25th in FBS. KSU’s defensive PPD number of 2.16 is 64th. The OSU offensive PSR value of nearly 46% is 22nd in the country. KSU’s defense points per long drive is not good but their other numbers are all fairly average.KSU has pretty similar numbers to OSU in PPD. One advantage here is their ability on offense to score following a possession loss (reset possession success rate). 50% of the time they score after a possession loss. That’s 14th in FBS and a really good number. OSU defense needs to do a better job at forcing FGs or getting turnovers once an opponent reaches their 30. That points per value drive number is 84th in the country.Offensive/Defensive Footprints OSU is not running the ball much (at least compared to other FBS teams). 52% of standard downs, 30% on passing downs. Their pace is just above average and they’ve shown the ability (or want) to go both methodically and fast (turbo as they call it). They, like KSU, are doing a good job at creating one-on-one situations with 83% solo tackle rate.KSU runs. That’s what they do. 68% of the time on standard downs they run the ball. The statistic to pay attention to here though is their run rate on passing downs. Only 29% of the time do they run on passing downs, that’s less than OSU. Their pace is slow, very slow (110th out of 128).We all know what the OSU DL brings to the table. 8% havoc rate is 9th in the country. The overall havoc rate of 18.2% is 26th. The secondary needs to do a better job of generating havoc despite their 11th ranking is pass deflections/interceptions to incompletion rate.If there’s another team in the Big 12 with as good of DL at generating havoc as OSU, it’s KSU. 7.2% havoc rate. However the KSU DL doesn’t get as much help from their LBs or DBs. Opponent-Adjusted SuccessWe are finally looking at some opponent-adjusted play-by-play data. Much of what we see here (with some exceptions) is not too different from the unadjusted data. OSU’s offense will be challenged the most in the run game, where they struggle anyway. Their biggest opportunities for success will be on passing downs, throwing the ball.The KSU offense still has really good success rates when you adjust for their opponents, they are running the ball very well, but struggling a lot when passing and on passing downs. OSU’s defense will have to get KSU into passing downs in order to let their advantage there have some affect on the outcome of the game. That means limiting yards gained on standard downs and stopping the KSU rushing attack.Opponent-Adjusted SituationalI pointed this out last week and it’s still true this week. OSU offense on 3rd down is incredible (4th in FBS). Surprisingly, 2nd down seems to be their biggest weakness and I’m beginning to get concerned about their lack of ability to do much in the 3rd quarter after the opposing defense makes halftime adjustments. The KSU defense seems to get worse as the game goes on which matches up well with OSU’s ability to wear teams out with their width of the field, sideline to sideline screen game (that many of us hate to watch). KSU defense has to find a way to get stops on 3rd down if they want to win.The KSU offense is really only good in the first quarter (or has been historically). They also struggle mightily on 3rd down. I’d really like to see the OSU defense get better defensively in the 1st and 2nd quarter instead of saving it for the 2nd half. The team is clearly bolstered by good defense in the 4th quarter (which Gundy attributes to the DL rotations) and 3rd down defense.Special TeamsKSU’s return teams will provide the biggest challenge for OSU so far this season. Ammendola and Sinor must continue to do what they do best. KSU’s FG kicking has been just average, something else to watch for in a close game.ConclusionUnfortunately, there isn’t a crystal ball that tells us how teams will play on Saturday. All we have is how they’ve played in the past. Past performance is not indicative of future performance either. KSU is a 3 point favorite for a reason. Most notably because the do not turn the ball over and the OSU defense has been the game changer recently coming up with turnovers that have given OSU the ball in enemy territory. How will OSU do without those gifts? I try not to put too much stock in the history of this series, but the home team has had a clear advantage (except for 2010) for some years. Whether this trend continues on Saturday I believe comes down to a few things:Can OSU limit success for KSU on early downs and force them into passing downs?Can the OSU run game get anything going against a stout KSU defense?Can Rudolph hit the intermediate routes accurately (and can the receivers make clean catches)?Can OSU limit the ability of the KSU return teams to affect the game?Turnovers.Thanks for reading. Please let me know what you think and any suggestions for the next episode. 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.
University of Cal-Berkley graduate transfer Aaron Cochran has cut his list to three schools and is down to Oklahoma State, Auburn and Texas Tech according to ESPN’s Jake Trotter. The 6-foot-8 350 pound offensive tackle would have had his third offensive line coach in four years at Cal if he would have stayed, and now he will seek a school to play his final year of eligibility.Cochran played in 28 games and started 16 over the last three years for Cal. In 2016, he played in 11 games with a career-high 10 starts at left tackle. Cochran is on track to earn his bachelor’s degree from Cal in interdisciplinary studies in May.Marcus Arroyo, OSU’s now former ace recruiter, was part of the Cal staff that recruited him and his brother to the school. That was the connection that landed OSU an inside track with him. And while Arroyo is coaching at Oregon, Cochran is clearly still interested in the Cowboys. There is no public timetable for his decision, but expect it to come before the summer so he can enroll and prepare for the upcoming season. 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.
S1Ramon RichardsSr. PositionPlayerClass S1Tre FlowersR-Sr. S2Jerel MorrowR-Sr. 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. S2Za’Carrius GreenR-Soph. All right, Ramon Richards is a safety. Let’s do this.SummaryBefore spring practice began, coach Mike Gundy held a press conference up in the box at Boone Pickens Stadium. Reporters were catching up with one another, grabbing a view of the stadium and also picking up a spring media guide.One by one, they flipped through to the positional breakdown page, and one by one, they caught the line that mattered:7 Ramon Richards SThat “S” didn’t stand for “Super” or “Special.” It was “Safety,” and that meant we had a story.“Tre will play in the back end, and depending on who we’re playing, one of those guys can drop down some,” Gundy said. “Ramon would be a guy that would play more in the middle of the field.”With Jordan Sterns gone and Tre Flowers returning, that meant Oklahoma State would start two seniors at safety and therefore, thrust a horde of inexperienced cornerbacks into the mix.The move made sense on one hand, Richards almost perfected giving up the big play while playing corner, at safety he’d probably be able to keep it all in front of him. And he played there a little bit at the end of last season. But on the other hand, the move begged a lot of questions. What if he can’t play center field? Why would they leave themselves vulnerable at corner? Who will even start?Defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer said not so fast.“We can always put Ramon back,” he said. “That’s the good thing about spring ball. Nobody’s keeping score.”A corresponding move sent Kenneth Edison-McGruder down to linebacker to free up that safety spot (and also, that just made more sense for him).Through the spring, Richards learned and learned, and I guess it all worked out. He played the whole spring game at safety, and all seemed swell, but he was defending against Keondre Wudtee, John Kolar and Jelani Woods. Philip Redwine-Bryant, a receiver turned safety, would have been more equal competition.Still, watching Richards and Flowers through spring practice at least drew some eyes.Biggest NewsAlthough Richards’ move is the most headline-grabbing, the most important thing to watch in fall camp and for the 2017 season is how the Cowboy safeties will try to replace the production of Jordan Sterns.As a sophomore, junior and senior, Sterns led the team in tackles, and last season, he had the most interceptions of anyone on the Cowboy defense. He was a fixture, and undrafted or not, that’s why he is in the NFL after he and the Kansas City Chiefs agreed to terms. Even halving his production would be acceptable.Sterns had 101 tackles in 2016. Flowers had 61, and Richards had 64, which is an outstanding number from a cornerback. His number will undoubtably increase with a move to safety, but it likely won’t hit a Benjamin’s worth.There is another side to replacing Sterns, too. He was the spiritual leader of that defense and the team for that matter. His poise and seeming professionalism are attributes that are much more difficult to replace than numbers on a stat sheet.Flowers and Richards have played meaningful snaps since they were freshmen. They have been mainstays, good and bad, in the defense for years, and they have definitely matured since 2013.But Sterns brought a particular sense of focus and force that only comes around every decade or so. It’s not impossible that Flowers and Richards can combine to lead like Sterns did, but knowing what we know about their easygoing, fun-loving personalities, it will be hard to duplicate that mentality.Camp StarHe wasn’t necessarily a “star” in spring camp, but Jerel Morrow will play significantly more than the special teams duties that were delegated in his first three seasons.Last year when Sterns or Flowers needed a breather, Edison-McGruder replaced nicely. He didn’t cover as well, but his tackling was easily what it was with the starters in there. He might slide back at times in 2017, but I would predict that Morrow gets that third safety role.Morrow looked good. He still isn’t close to Flowers’ talent. He isn’t outstanding in any one area of safety play, but he is competent in all of them. After the Kansas State game last year, a reporter from Morrow’s high school area asked Gundy what the then-rarely heard safety added to the team. Gundy called him reliable and said this:“I’ve got three sons and if they could grow up like him, it would be a heck of a deal. He’s a first class (act).”Projected Two DeepFor the past few years, this spot has been relatively deep, but in 2017, it’s down there with corner for the shallowest.
Oklahoma State may be as deep across the board as it’s been since that historic 2011 season. The majority of you think the offense is more loaded this year and Mike Gundy thinks the defense could be better.So it should be no surprise that when ESPN finished their post-spring rankings for each Big 12 position group last week, Oklahoma State came out with the highest ranking across the board.Props to Mark Ortwein for drawing attention to it with this list.ESPN’s Jake Trotter and Mitch Sherman traded off the position groups. Here’s a look at where they had on each and where the Cowboys ranked.Quarterback – No. 2Only two Power 5 QBs — Mayfield and Ohio State’s J.T. Barrett — have more starting wins than Mason Rudolph, who boasts a career record of 22-6. Backup QB, however, is becoming a perilous predicament for the Pokes. John Kolar, Keondre Wudtee and true freshman Jelani Woods all struggled in Oklahoma State’s spring game, leaving walk-on Taylor Cornelius as the favorite to back up Rudolph again in the fall. ESPNRudolph has everything he needs to put up an historic season and if he stays healthy will not only own the record books in Stillwater. He’ll give his team a chance at their second Big 12 title — and maybe more.Running Back – No. 5The Cowboys are thin here but remain in the top half of the league largely because of Justice Hill, the Big 12 offensive freshman of the year in 2016 who rushed for 1,142 yards. Look for Canadian newcomer Chuba Hubbard to complement Hill, along with senior Jeff Carr. And we already like incoming freshman J.D. King out of Georgia, mainly because his mom is a noted advocate of the Mike Gundy mullet. ESPNWhether the No. 2 spot is filled by Hubbard or fellow 2017 signee J.D. King or someone like La’Darren Brown who showed some potential this spring, the Cowboys are going to even lean more on Justice Hill then they did last year. As long as he’s 100 percent from off-season shoulder surgery, he should be more than capable of handling the bell-cow load.Wider Receiver – No. 1Quarterback Mason Rudolph said this spring that LSU transfer Tyron Johnson was Oklahoma State’s best receiver in space with the ball in his hands. Considering the other components of the Cowboy receiving corps, that’s an incredible compliment and underscored just how deep this Cowboy wideout unit will be. ESPNJames Washington could break Rashaun Woods’ record for career receiving yards. Jalen McCleskey could be the most underrated player in the Big 12. Marcell Ateman could lead the team in touchdowns. Tyron Johnson could win Big 12 Newcomer of the Year. What am I missing? Oh yeah, the insane fact that all could come true.Offensive Line – No. 5Depth is lacking, but the Cowboys solidified their starting unit with the addition of graduate transfer Aaron Cochran from Cal. He will replace Victor Salako and mesh with returning starters Marcus Keyes at left guard, center Brad Lundblade, right guard Larry Williams and Zachary Crabtree at right tackle. If these guys stay healthy, Oklahoma State’s line could rank next fall in the top three to four of the Big 12. ESPNZachary Crabtree has had four different OL coaches during his time in Stillwater. The Cowboys have serious depth issues and didn’t take a single high school prospect in their last signing class. But it finally seems like Gundy has his guy in Josh Henson. He’s a former lineman at OSU and a nationally-recognized recruiter. Most importantly, the line seems to have bought in. If they can continue their improvement in the run game and amp up their efforts in pass protection, the sky is the limit for this offense.Defensive Line – No. 3The Cowboys boast one of the deepest units in the league, especially at end, where they have five reliable and experienced options in Cole Walterscheid, Jarrell Owens, Tralund Webber, Jordan Brailford and Vili Leveni. To replace Vincent Taylor inside, Oklahoma State is hoping Darrion Daniels can take a big step forward in his third season. ESPNThe deepest defensive line that Mike Gundy has coached is going to be even deeper thanks to the return from injury of end Jordan Brailford and transfer and former Michigan State DT Enoch Smith Jr. Darrion Daniels needs to be the star of this line and he’ll have help from DeQuinton Osborne and end-turned-tackle Trey Carter.Linebacker – No. 3Lots of options exist for the Cowboys, despite the departures of Jordan Burton and Devante Averette. Senior Chad Whitener is back in the middle, and Oklahoma State coaches expect at least one star to emerge from the group of Justin Phillips, Calvin Bundage and Kenneth Edison-McGruder. Phillips is especially versatile and could play alongside his backup, Kevin Henry. Linebacker should rate as the Pokes’ strongest defensive position group. ESPNNo. 3 seems high on this list but when you really look at the depth the Cowboys boast, it shouldn’t be a surprise. Glenn Spencer along with the help of former Notre Dame defensive coordinator and current analyst Brian VanGorder spent the off season installing a permanent second scheme on defense. They will play out of both their traditional four-down and a three-down sets. The number one reason that is a possibility is the depth and versatility of their linebacker corps.Defensive Backs – No. 5The Cowboys landed one of the more high-profile grad transfers this spring in former Clemson cornerback Adrian Baker. Baker should help shore up the biggest question on the Oklahoma State defense, while allowing the Pokes to keep Ramon Richards as a cover safety, which could go a long way in bolstering coordinator Glenn Spencer’s pass defense. ESPNThe Pokes have some talent at safety and lots of questions at corner. They also have six committed safeties coming in the next two classes. Adrian Baker is a huge help at cover man but there will still be some growing pains, especially early. No other corner on the roster has started a D-I game. As Mike Gundy said, they may have to score “a few points” early on.Special Teams – No. 2While making plans for QB Mason Rudolph’s Heisman campaign, the Cowboys may want to promote Zach Sinor, too — for the Ray Guy Award. The junior punter rates as a serious weapon with his powerful leg and precision. His 35 punts downed inside the 20-yard line last year led the FBS. Jalen McCleskey is also back as a threat on returns. ESPN The Sinor hype is real. He was the most effective punter in college football a year ago. Aside from him, there are questions which is why No. 2 seems a bit high. The Cowboys haven’t fielded a game changer in the return game in a couple years and they have to replace the much maligned — but all-time leading scorer in OSU history — place kicker, Ben Grogan.Fan favorite or not, Grogan became a cold-blooded closer with three game-winners on his resume. Maybe Matt Ammendola picks up where he left off. Maybe Tyron Johnson sets a new punt return average record at OSU. But at this point, there are unknowns. 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.
Best comparison: Markelle MartinMalcolm Rodriguez: 3-Star, .8233 RatingThis dude is a winner.Rodriguez played football, baseball and wrestled at Wagoner. As a quarterback and safety, he won three straight state titles, including back-to-back undefeated seasons to finish his career. He also added a state championship wrestling title.“Obviously, you can’t turn down a kid that has won a bunch a state titles in multiple sports,” Hammerschmidt said. “He’s exciting, he’s impressive and he’s a great kid. He looks you in the eyes. I won’t be surprised if he’s governor someday.”The problem where to imagine him on the field at Boone Pickens Stadium. The winning and character is great, but at 6-foot, 200 pounds who knows where he’ll end up. He’s listed as a safety coming in, but he seems like he’ll be one of those guys Gundy grooms on special teams before graduation to the big leagues.Best comparison: Jerel MorrowTrey Sterling: 3-Star, .8411 RatingSterling looks like the kind of player who could easily add 30 pounds of muscle and drop into the box. He also looks as if he could lean up and be good in coverage. He is listed at 6-1, 205, and his tape is indicative of a player who could sprout in any direction he wants to, quickly. For a position that typically starts two players, Oklahoma State has earned the commitments of seven high school safeties between the 2017 and 2018 recruiting classes.That’s tied for tops in the Big 12 but more important, that’s tied for the most over a two-year stretch in OSU football history and there are still more than seven months until the 2018 National Signing Day.OSU has earned six more safety commitments this decade than last already.Dan Hammerschmidt, OSU safeties coach, was hired in January 2015, about a month before NSD that year. He assumed the role of now-cornerbacks coach Tim Duffie. Hammer didn’t sign any safeties in that month before NSD.Duffie had already gotten four commitments at the position, which seemingly froze the position’s recruiting pool until the 2017 class. Then, with this most recent class, he signed Thabo Mwaniki (Denton-Guyer, Texas), Malcolm Rodriguez (Wagoner, Oklahoma), Kris McCune (Forney-Dallas Christian School), Tre Sterling (Sunnyvale, Texas) and Tracin Wallace (Fort Worth-South Hills, Texas), who played quarterback and safety in high school.Signing technically five trained safeties can be seen as stat-padding, but if past classes are indication, not all five will finish at OSU at the position. In the 2013 class, now-corner Darius Curry was listed as a safety. In 2014, Ramon Richards was signed as a corner-quarterback athlete but will start at safety this season.And the 2015 class is probably the most indicative of the trend of stashing athletes to play elsewhere on the field. Jordan Burton, Kenneth Edison-McGruder Kevin Henry and Bryce Balous were all signed as safeties but all will or did play at another position: Burton, KEM and Henry to linebacker and Balous to corner.For the most part, a higher number of athletic defensive players has proven to work.Curry has played sparingly in his career but might start in a weak cornerback duo that could (and I can’t believe I’m writing this) include Balous by the end of the season. Richards, as wild as he can be at times, has been one of the most valuable pieces in the Cowboy defense in the past few years. He started as a freshman four games into the season, came in as the nickel corner as a sophomore and was fourth on the team in tackles as a junior.Burton’s move to star linebacker was just about seamless with 106 tackles in two seasons as a JUCO transfer. Edison-McGruder could start at linebacker after two years of productivity at safety. And Henry is definitely one to keep an eye on after this season as a possible starter at linebacker.It’s fair to say safety is the position where OSU is hiding those tweener players who either aren’t fast enough yet to play corner or aren’t strong enough yet to drop into the box, but it’s unfair to say coach Mike Gundy, Hammerschmidt and defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer are recruiting those kinds of players without standard and hoping one hits. This seems to be a trending strategy … one that’s working.And with that in mind, here is an examination of the players coming in as freshmen this season (we’ll look at the ones coming for 2018 tomorrow).2017Thabo Mwaniki: 3-Star, .8387 RatingMwaniki’s measurables put him exactly alongside Richards at 5-foot-11, 185 pounds, but there is about 10 percent more edge to Mwaniki.In watching his tape, the first thing that jumps off the screen is his athleticism. He played safety, receiver, returned punts and hopped in as the wildcat quarterback at Denton Guyer. He was that dude and had the motor to match.Mwaniki often dropped down to play more of a nickel corner role when the defense was spread thin, and he fared well. He is the type of player, given his versatility and athleticism, who could flow throughout the secondary and not miss a beat.“He’s one of those all-time kids,” Hammerschmidt said, according to his NSD page.Best comparison: Ramon RichardsKris McCune: 3-Star, .8559 RatingThe longest safety signed in the 2017 class, McCune definitely fits into that tweener category.Listed at 6-2, 200, he played running back, receiver, safety and corner at Dallas Christian School, which is a kindergarten through 12-grade school of about 750. That’s about 60 a grade.McCune was the No. 12 corner in the nation, according to Scout, and the No. 82 safety, per 24/7. In his tape, he is typically at corner but seems just as sound if not better in the back end. He told PFB he intends to play safety, but he could easily make a change. 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. “The night we saw him, he took a kick about 70 and made about 11 guys miss,” Hammer said.There are 11 players on the opposing side of the field at any given time.Best comparison: A more athletic Jordan SternsWe will take a look at the 2018 commits tomorrow.
Juventus Juventus critics don’t know how good Tottenham are, says Pjanic Joe Wright 08:42 24/2/2018 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(0) Getty Images Juventus Tottenham Hotspur Juventus v Atalanta Juventus v Tottenham Hotspur Atalanta Serie A UEFA Champions League The midfielder defended his side from criticism for surrendering a two-goal lead to draw with the north London side in their Champions League tie Juventus midfielder Miralem Pjanic says critics of his side’s 2-2 draw with Tottenham do not appreciate the strength of the Premier League side.Juve raced into a 2-0 lead inside the first 10 minutes of the first leg of the Champions League last-16 tie, but goals from Harry Kane and Christian Eriksen sealed a draw for Spurs to put them in the driving seat ahead of the return game at Wembley.The Serie A champions faced a lot of criticism for their performance in Turin, prompting striker Gonzalo Higuain, who scored both of their goals, to blast the “armchair fans” for their comments. 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 Pjanic insists Juve should not be too disappointed with the result against Mauricio Pochettino’s side.”It was too much [criticism] because we faced Tottenham, who are a very good team from the midfield up,” he told Premium Sport.”They’re a quality team, so maybe those who criticised didn’t know Tottenham.”We should have managed the game better at 2-0 but it’s not over. We believe in ourselves and obviously we want to go through.”While Juve’s European campaign is still alive, Serie A leaders Napoli exited the Europa League on Thursday, with their 2-0 win at RB Leipzig not enough to avoid an aggregate defeat on away goals.Pjanic expects them to go all out to win the title now but warns Juve are determined to claim every trophy they can.”Napoli are our great rival for the Scudetto. It’s a pity for them: they would have gone a long way in Europe,” he said.”I think we’ll be fighting with Napoli until the end and the head-to-head match could be decisive. We’re out to win the Scudetto, and to get to the end in the Coppa Italia and the Champions League.”Pjanic hopes the return of Blaise Matuidi, who has missed Juve’s last three games with a hamstring injury, will galvanise the team.”I knew Blaise before. He’s an aggressive player who gives you a lot of physicality and running. He helps me a lot, he integrated into the group and immediately became an important player. His return will certainly be valuable for us,” he added.
Liverpool ‘Van Dijk is a leader and a warrior’ – Klopp sees £75m fee justified by Liverpool star Chris Burton 19:52 6/3/2018 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(0) Getty Images Liverpool Jürgen Klopp Liverpool v Porto Porto UEFA Champions League The Reds spent big to land the Netherlands international defender, and the man in charge at Anfield believes they are already getting value for money Virgil van Dijk has been hailed by Jurgen Klopp as a Liverpool “leader” and “warrior”, with the Dutchman already justifying a £75 million transfer fee.The Netherlands international became the most expensive defender in world football when completing a move to Anfield from Southampton during the January window.Liverpool had been looking to tie up a deal for some time, with Van Dijk having been quickly identified as the man to shore up a leaky defensive line. 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 The 26-year-old has slotted seamlessly into the Reds fold and, with full match sharpness returned following past injury problems, is looking like the talismanic presence Klopp always believed he could be.“He’s just a good lad, to be honest. That’s the most important thing,” the Liverpool manager told the club’s official website.“We bought him not because he is a good lad but because he is a good footballer. But being a good lad helps a lot to settle in the team immediately – and that’s what he did.“That he is a good footballer, there was no doubt. Our other four centre-halves are good footballers as well. It only helps. When you have a lot of possession, you need this kind of passing skills in defenders.“His body language is brilliant, to be honest. He looks like a leader, like a warrior, already like a Liverpool player – that’s good news.“Of course he has helped us, that’s why we brought him in.”Van Dijk, who netted the winner in an FA Cup Merseyside derby with Everton on his debut in January, has made eight appearances for Liverpool so far.The Reds have kept just three clean sheets during those outings, but have collected five victories – including a run of four in a row across recent Premier League and Champions League fixtures. Subscribe to Goal’s Liverpool Correspondent Neil Jones’ weekly email bringing you the best Liverpool FC writing from around the web
Transfers Transfer news & rumours LIVE: Bellerin wants move but Barca end interest Goal Last updated 1 year ago 23:36 8/3/2018 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(1) Getty Images Transfers Premier League Ligue 1 Serie A Bundesliga Primera División Goal takes a look at the biggest transfer news and rumours from the Premier League, La Liga, Serie A and beyond Bellerin wants move but Barca lose interestHector Bellerin has decided he wants to leave Arsenal for a return to Barcelona, but the Catalan side are no longer interested in him, Mundo Deportivo claims.Barca have pursued the right-back in recent transfer windows, but could not persuade the Gunners to let him go. Now as Arsenal continue to struggle under Arsene Wenger, the Spain international has decided he would like to make the switch to Camp Nou.However, Barca are confident that Nelson Semedo is blossoming into the ideal option for the position and will keep their faith in him at the expense of a potential move for Bellerin. 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 Klopp fancies CarvajalLiverpool boss Jurgen Klopp is an admirer of Real Madrid right-back Dani Carvajal, according to Spanish outlet Don Balon .The report claims the German boss wants to bring the Spain international to Anfield, suggesting the funds recouped from Coutinho’s sale would be more than enough to land the 26-year-old.Madrid, however, would be reluctant to let go of the defender, who is understood to have no intention of leaving the Santiago Bernabeu.Conte could continue at Chelsea – on one condition…Antonio Conte’s could continue at Chelsea into the new season, The Sun reports, but only if the Italian stops complaining to the club’s board about their transfer activity.Conte’s future at Stamford Bridge has been the subject of speculation all season after the former Italy boss questioned the board’s commitment to bringing in quality players.The British tabloid however claims that the London club’s hierarchy are willing to wipe the slate clean should the 48-year-old put a lid on his complaints.Man Utd ‘too slow’ to offer De Gea new dealManchester United have been ‘too slow’ in offering David De Gea a new and improved deal as reported interest from Real Madrid begins to rear its head once again, according to Yahoo Sport .The Spain international is widely regarded as one of the best keepers in the world, yet his wages have fallen significantly behind top earners such as Alexis Sanchez and Paul Pogba.As such, it is claimed that sources close to the player feel like United should be doing more to express their commitment to the in-demand shot-stopper.Malcolm high on Bayern’s wishlistJupp Heynckes has confirmed that Bordeaux winger Malcom is high up Bayern Munich’s transfer wishlist.The 20-year-old, who has been linked with a move to Arsenal and Tottenham, is set to leave Ligue 1 at the end of the season.Read the full story here on Goal. Mahrez wants Roma moveRiyad Mahrez is determined to leave Leicester City and is looking to force a move to Roma, according to Corriere dello Sport .The Algeria international went on strike to secure a transfer to Manchester City in January, but was forced to return to training with the Foxes when a deadline day deal fell through.Roma looked to sign Mahrez last summer, but could not meet Leicester’s asking price. They are hopeful that an agreement can be reached with Mahrez eager to leave the King Power Stadium.Barca fearful of Messi’s release clauseBarcelona’s financial and strategy director Pancho Schroder believes that Lionel Messi’s €700m release clause may not be high enough to ward off other clubs.Messi’s current Barca contract runs until 2021, and includes a stipulation that allows him to leave for €700m. Despite the fact that it would be over three times more than the current transfer record, Schroder thinks that a rival team may be willing to make an offer.Read the full story on Goal. Inter back in for RabiotInter will make another attempt to sign PSG midfielder Adrien Rabiot, according to Calciomercato .The club’s technical co-ordinator Walter Sabatini is a big fan of the 22-year-old, and will make a move for him if Inter can return to the Champions League.Rabiot’s contract at PSG expires in 2019, and Inter are hoping to use this as a bargaining tool.Man Utd confident in new Martial dealManchester United are confident that Anthony Martial will sign a new deal with the Old Trafford outfit, according to ESPN . The France international has fallen down the pecking order at Old Trafford since the arrival of Alexis Sanchez, and Juventus, Arsenal and Tottenham are keen to take advantage.Jose Mourinho’s side are ready to re-open talks with the 22-year-old, who has 15 months left on his current deal.Barca scouting four Ajax prospectsWith the core of the Barcelona team against, the Catalan club are looking toward Dutch club Ajax to find the next wave of young talent, reports Diario Gol .The Spanish club have sent scouts to look at Justin Kluivert, Matthijs de Ligt, Donny van de Beek and Frenkie de Jong.All four players fit the Barcelona style, and all four are 20 or younger. PSG contact ContePSG have already made contact with Chelsea manager Antonio Conte, reports L’Équipe . The French club are not waiting to find a replacement for Unai Emery, who is set to be sacked following the club’s Champions League elimination. Milan to move for Pepe ReinaAC Milan will alert Napoli of that they are starting negotiations with goalkeeper Pepe Reina on Thursday, reports Gianluca Di Marzio .The former Liverpool goalkeeper’s contract is expiring and Milan are ready to offer him a two-year deal. Ramos tells Ronaldo of Courtois dealReal Madrid captain Sergio Ramos has told Cristiano Ronaldo about a deal the club have in place to sign Thibaut Courtois, reports Diario Gol . The defender has told team-mates that the Chelsea goalkeeper is keen on a move to Madrid, but that the deal will only take place if the club fail to sign David de Gea, who is still the top target. Chelsea want Marco AsensioChelsea are keen on a move for Real Madrid’s Marco Asensio, according to Don Balon .Alvaro Morata would like to have his former Madrid team-mate with him, and has convinced the Premier League side that the 22-year-old would be a perfect fit for the Blues. But Florentino Perez is not willing to part with his young star, and considers Asensio key to Madrid’s future. Spurs to move for BaleWith Gareth Bale’s stock falling consistently, the only team willing to move for him is former club Tottenham, reports Don Balon . Spurs want to bring Bale back to London, and with Madrid chasing Harry Kane are hoping that they can sell their star forward and make a tidy profit by bring back their former star for just €60million. Napoli and Dortmund want MignoletNapoli and Borussia Dortmund are interested in the signing of Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet, reports DH . The 30-year-old has fallen out of favor at Anfield, but the Serie A and Bundesliga sides both have a need to fill and the money to land the Belgian. Revs shopping NemethThe New England Revolution have offered forward Krisztian Nemeth to multiple teams, according to MLSsoccer.com . The club has reportedly offered the player they signed last season to several teams, but could have trouble offloading him unless the Revs are willing to eat a chunk of his $1 million salary. Juventus show Martial interestManchester United are hopeful of warding off interest from Juventus in forward Anthony Martial, according to The Times .The France international has fallen down the pecking order at Old Trafford since the arrival of Alexis Sanchez, and the Serie A champions are keen to take advantage.Martial’s current contract runs out at the end of next season, and United are ready to open talks regarding a fresh deal in a bid to keep hold of the former Monaco man.Pochettino lined up as new PSG bossParis Saint-Germain are keen on bringing in Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino as Unai Emery’s replacement on the bench, reports RMC .Emery’s job is hanging by a thread after a second successive last-16 Champions League exit was confirmed on Tuesday with defeat to Real Madrid. And while the Spaniard may be allowed to see out his contract and leave in June, PSG have already set their sights on Pochettino for the 2018-19 season.Arsenal want Low to replace WengerGermany coach Joachim Low is Arsenal’s preferred candidate to replace Arsene Wenger, if a managerial change is made at the end of the season, according to ESPN .Wenger’s future remains uncertain following Arsenal’s abject season and reports claim that some players have lost faith in the long-serving Frenchman.Monaco’s Leonardo Jardim and Celtic’s Brendan Rodgers are options to take over from Wenger, but Low is the leading contender, if he decides to leave the Germany job after the World Cup this summer.Can puts Liverpool contract talks on holdLiverpool midfielder Emre Can says all discussions regarding his future have been put on hold until the end of the 2017-18 season.The Germany international has been strongly linked with a move to Juventus when his Liverpool contract expires in June, having failed to agree a new deal at Anfield.However, Can insists nothing has been settled and all talks have been put on hold with Liverpool chasing second place in the Premier League and into the last eight of the Champions League.Read the full story on Goal right here! Sessegnon picks next clubRyan Sessegnon would prefer to join Liverpool, if he leaves Fulham for the Premier League in the summer, claims the Daily Express .The 17-year-old, who can play down the left-hand side, has been linked with the likes of Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham.He could stay at Fulham next season, if they win promotion to the top flight, but should he leave Craven Cottage, then his aim is to sign for Liverpool. Check out Goal’s Premier League 2019-20 fantasy football podcast for game tips, debate and rivalries.
CSKA Moscow 0 Lyon 1: Marcelo header makes the difference Matt Dorman 03:55 9/3/2018 Twitter (@pfc_cska) Marcelo’s second-half header put Lyon in the box seat to advance from their Europa League last-16 tie against CSKA Moscow. Lyon put themselves on track for the Europa League quarter-finals after securing a precious 1-0 win at CSKA Moscow in the first leg of their last-16 tie.Marcelo headed the only goal in the 68th minute of a largely drab affair at VEB Arena, giving Bruno Genesio’s side their first victory of any kind since they beat Villarreal last month.Winless in their last six Ligue 1 outings, the visitors had appeared more than happy to return to France with nothing more than a clean sheet. 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 But they are now in the driving seat to advance and, having only conceded four goals in the competition to date, will be confident of finishing the job next week.And they should have captain Nabil Fekir back in time for that match after the star midfielder missed the trip to Russia with a knee complaint.Marcelo heads in Depay’s corner to put Lyon ahead in Moscow. #UEL pic.twitter.com/UZ0irwL8rE — UEFA Europa League (@EuropaLeague) March 8, 2018 CSKA commanded the bulk of the territory throughout a muted first 15 minutes and almost made their superiority count, but Ahmed Musa was unable to beat a well-positioned Anthony Lopes at his near post.Musa’s loose touch had scuppered an earlier opening while Lyon were similarly wasteful with their occasional counter-attacks, Bertrand Traore and Houssem Aouar both guilty of rushed attempts.Lopes was again alert in the 35th minute to parry Aleksandr Golovin’s dipping drive in what proved a rare moment of alarm in an otherwise laboured first half.The away side displayed little desire to increase the tempo after the restart, although Memphis Depay did force Igor Akinfeev into an acrobatic save with a curling free-kick on the hour.The goalkeeper was less assured for the game’s decisive moment. Beaten by the flight of Depay’s corner, Akinfeev could only watch as Marcelo rose high and nodded home at the far post.Kenny Tete next sliced wastefully wide but the miss mattered little as, despite a late penalty area scramble, the Russians failed to truly test Lopes.68′ GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAALLLL Marcelo ! @Memphis whips in a corner kick into the box, where the Brazilian connects an unstoppable header!!! Lyon take the lead! #CSKAOL 0-1 pic.twitter.com/tq2riY92hc — OL English (@OL_English) March 8, 2018