Chris Paul has a sore hip.It’s not just that the Los Angeles Clippers got beat, 92-80, Wednesday night to extend their first-round playoffs series. It’s pretty significant that the Clippers got beat up, too.Blake Griffin went down holding his left knee, a scary sight. Thankfully, it was a sprained and not something debilitating. Point guard Chris Paul hurt his right hip and had to come out. Not good, as L.A. looks to regroup for a close out Game 6 at Los Angeles Friday.”We’ve got to get home, get some therapy, get rest and then get back to work on Friday,” Clippers coach Vinnie Del Negro said.The team doctor and trainer told Del Negro that Griffin and Paul were healthy enough to return to action in the fourth quarter. But when Paul struggled with his mobility, Del Negro took him out.Griffin hurt his knee when he tangled legs with the Grizzlies Marc Gasol (23 points) on a drive to the basket in the third quarter. He lay on the court clutching his knee for a few minutes before going to the bench. But he returned to attempt his free throws and played most of the fourth quarter.”One of our guys went down,” said Clippers forward Caron Butler, who’s playing despite breaking his left hand in Game 1. ”Not just one of our guys, one of our superstars. It’s important that we go down and check on our brother. He got up. It was a tough play. He got banged up pretty bad. But he’s a soldier. He got back out there and kept chipping away at it with us.”Memphis has lost all four of its games at Staples Center against the Clippers this year. The Grizzlies know they have to break through to force a decisive Game 7 in Memphis on Sunday..”There’s no point leaving home if we don’t know our way back,” Grizzlies guard O.J. Mayo said. ”We can’t look at Sunday because we have to make sure we get back home after Friday night.”
TwitterLeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers won the 2016 NBA Finals Sunday night, and the internet celebrated the only way it knew how – with a meme. This time, instead of using the go-to Crying Jordan meme, users got crafty and a new image was born with Crying LeBron.After the Cavs scored the win over the Golden State Warriors 93-89, James was photographed hugging teammate Kevin Love. The meme was generated not much later and soon a Crying LeBron Twitter page sprung up.and so it begins… pic.twitter.com/qkgC6TYPYB— Crying lebron (@CryingIebron) June 20, 2016The title is the first major sports championship win for a Cleveland team since 1964. The Akron, Ohio native left the Cavs in 2010 only to return four years later. He hoped to end the city’s title dry spell after coming back home. Before then, James joined Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade with the Miami Heat, winning two titles.“I don’t know why the man above give me the hardest road, but… the man above don’t put you in situations that you can’t handle,” James told ESPN after winning the championship. “I just kept that same positive attitude. Instead of saying, ‘Why me?’ I said, ‘This is what He wants me to do.’ And Cleveland, this is for you.”The excitement launched several memes, and Twitter was especially eager to share.Crying LeBron’s face was plastered over the faces of the Warriors, signifying their loss.THE CRYING LEBRON FACE MEME IS BORN pic.twitter.com/huWdAqlgsN— JOAO (@SoftGlas) June 20, 2016Shaun Sundholm blended crying LeBron and crying Jordan into one teary image.Is this a thing yet? #cryingLebron #cryingJordan pic.twitter.com/102v5iS2bi— Shaun Sundholm (@f_letter) June 20, 2016Warriors point guard Steph Curry’s wife Ayesha was not immune to the meme.Test driving the new Lebron Crying meme. #ayeshacurry pic.twitter.com/6BY93vmo5h— Raisa (@MakeupWhoreder) June 20, 2016And Fahd Ahmed Hides used the crying image to signify how he felt about Monday approaching.When you realize tomorrow is Monday #NBAFinals #CryingLebron. pic.twitter.com/R22T5t9kLi— فهـد أحمـد الصـلاّل (@FhdAlsallal) June 20, 2016Eric Rosenthal urged someone to pass the baton by placing James’ crying face over Jordan’s own during this Basketball Hall of Fame induction speech in 2009.Someone put LeBron’s crying face onto Jordan during his speech pic.twitter.com/cRwLc3ZnQU— Eric Rosenthal (@ericsports) June 20, 2016And his request was answered by Andrew Lawandus.Congrats to @KingJames and the @cavs #CryingLeBron pic.twitter.com/NCHi77VwL4— Andrew Lawandus (@DOWORKDESIGN) June 20, 2016
Atlanta is the mirror-image Vikings: Whereas Minnesota ranks first in defensive EPA and 28th in offensive EPA, the Falcons are first in offensive EPA and 28th in defensive EPA. But the Falcons are trending in the wrong direction, making it fair to question them. Atlanta began last year 5-0 yet managed to finish 8-8, and after starting this year 4-1, Neil Paine asked if the Falcons were going to screw it up again. Since then, Atlanta is 0-2.Perhaps if Tom Brady had never been suspended, the 2016 season would be thought of as a year highlighted (again) by a dominant Patriots team. But through seven weeks, there are no longer any undefeated teams, and no teams that looked great on both sides of the ball. Parity may be a selling point for the league, but that doesn’t make it pretty. If you take the average of each team’s offensive and defensive EPA as a rough measure of aggregate strength, the highest-ranked team in 2016 is the Eagles at 28.0. However, of the 353 teams from ’06 to ’16 through seven weeks, that ranks as just the 33rd-best score. In other words, over the previous 10 years, there was an average of 3.2 teams per season that fared better than 2016’s top team. On the other hand, there are no truly dreadful teams, either. The Browns have the worst average EPA this year (-35.0), among teams that have negative grades on both offense and defense. Over the same span, there was an average of 2.5 teams worse than this season’s worst squad.Eight teams form this season’s vanguard2What we refer to as Pareto Efficient, from the Vikings in the upper left on down to the Falcons in the lower right. That means that despite differences in how their strengths are distributed between offense and defense, there is no team in the league that has more EPA on offense than any of these teams and also has more EPA on defense than that same team. And the fact that there are eight of those teams is a good sign that there are no dominant teams this year. Each of these teams has its flaws, and many are similarly constructed, with solid defenses and sputtering offenses:Minnesota boasts the top defense in the NFL, but an offense that is far below average. The Vikings rank dead last in yards per carry, and prior to this season Sam Bradford had been one of the worst starting quarterbacks in the NFL. And while Bradford had played well this year, he finished with the lowest QBR of any passer in week seven. Given the significant concerns on the offensive line, this figures to be a problem all season for the Vikings. The opening week of this NFL season featured a record number of close games that provided more than a hint of things to come. Because after Minnesota’s loss on Sunday to Philadelphia, there are no remaining undefeated teams. For reference, this time last year, there were five undefeated teams.Sharon Katz at ESPN Analytics wrote Monday that every NFL team is flawed. Using Expected Points Added1As Katz wrote, EPA accounts for the context of every play and how each play contributes to the unit’s ultimate goal of scoring (on offense) or limiting opponents’ points (on defense). Read more about EPA here. as her preferred measure of offensive and defensive efficiency, she showed that no team is excelling on both sides of the ball this season.How does that fit into the league’s recent history? ESPN’s EPA data goes back to 2006, and the chart below shows the EPA for each team in each season since then. The top teams would be expected to occupy the far upper-right portion of the upper-right quadrant — those teams would have the most EPA on both offense and defense. But this year, no team is occupying that upper corner. New England? Well, no argument here. Expect the Patriots to be on top of just about every set of power rankings this week, including ours. Denver, like the Vikings and Eagles, is trying to ride a strong defense to a Super Bowl title. Unlike those teams, the Broncos have some precedent for it: the 2015 season. Denver remains a Super Bowl contender, but the team is hardly balanced. In fact, the Broncos are averaging just 5.2 yards per play this year, down from 5.4 on last year’s hard-to-watch offense. Dallas, like Philadelphia, is a surprise behind a rookie quarterback. And while the Cowboys rank seventh in points allowed per game, the defense is below average, as its EPA rating indicates. Dallas leads the NFL in time of possession, which helps keep the raw numbers down, and the Cowboys defense ranks fourth in percentage of drives ending in turnovers, which is unlikely to continue. More worrisome? Dallas ranks 29th in third-down defense and is below-average against the pass. Arizona has a similar statistical profile to the Eagles, but the Cardinals are 3-3-1 against a schedule that has been below average. And while the Cardinals were a top team last year, it’s hard to be impressed by a team that has lost to the Patriots without Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski, the 3-4 Rams and the 4-3 Bills. Buffalo is another team that is hard to take seriously as a contender: The Bills are 4-3, with losses to the 3-4 Ravens, 3-4 Dolphins, and 2-5 Jets. The team will live and die with its rushing game: Buffalo has averaged 73 rushing yards in its three losses, and 212 in its four wins. Philadelphia presents a similar story: The defense looks great, but how far can the team go with a rookie quarterback and rookie head coach? Like the Vikings, Philadelphia also lacks a top-notch playmaker on offense to carry the team. Jordan Matthews is the team leader in yards from scrimmage, but leaguewide he ranks just 75th in that metric this year. Darren Sproles, at age 33, is second on the team and 77th overall.
When the NHL expanded in 1967, the Toronto Maple Leafs were, at least in terms of Stanley Cup championships won, the league’s second-most-successful franchise. They had won the Stanley Cup 13 times, just one fewer than the Montreal Canadiens, their Quebecois rivals. But while the modern era of the NHL1Defined as the time after that 1967 expansion from six to 12 teams. has been mostly good to the Canadiens — they’ve won the Stanley Cup 10 more times — it has been downright cruel to the Leafs: Their Stanley Cup tally remains stuck at 13, making the Leafs the only Original Six team that hasn’t lifted the Stanley Cup at least once in the NHL’s post-expansion age.Torontonians hope all that will change this season. The Leafs have jumped out to a quick start, winning six of their first nine games while scoring the fourth-most goals per game. The player doing a lot of that scoring — and a principal reason for Toronto’s early success — is a kid from the American desert named Auston Matthews.Of course, the California-born and Arizona-raised Matthews, who turned 21 last month, is a known entity at this point: In terms of point shares amassed in the first two seasons of a player’s career, he has been the best American since at least 1967-68, averaging 9.35 point shares per season. (Better than Mike Modano, better than Patrick Kane, better than Jeremy Roenick. You get the point.) If he can stay healthy and play into his late 30s, and keeping in mind that he hasn’t entered his prime yet, Matthews could finish with close to 200 point shares. This wouldn’t just qualify him as the greatest American player in NHL history; it would make him one of the best players in NHL history, period.Matthews, who averaged nearly a point per game as a 19- and 20-year-old, is averaging 1.78 points through nine games this season. The goals (he has 10 already) are coming easily, and if he keeps this up, he may break Alex Ovechkin’s post-1994-95 lockout record for goals in October.It’s unusual for an American to excel for a Canadian team. Many of the U.S. greats — Roenick, Modano and Kane, not to mention Brian Leetch, Chris Chelios and Pat LaFontaine — played the majority or the entirety of their careers stateside2To be sure, Canadian teams have had American heroes: Joe Mullen was the top point getter on the 1988-89 Calgary Flames team that won the Stanley Cup, and Gary Suter was that team’s second-best defenseman. Very young versions of John LeClair and Mathieu Schneider were pivotal role players on the 1992-93 Canadiens team that lifted the Cup. And the current iteration of the Winnipeg Jets is lousy with American talent.. In fact, it’s unusual for Americans to play in the Great White North at all. Some of that has to do with the drafting habits of Canadian teams: Just 51 of the 1,240 first-round draft picks since expansion have been Americans selected by Canadian teams, only four of whom were Toronto draftees. Americans have accounted for just 11.9 percent of skater games played for Canadian teams since expansion and have just 10.6 percent of the goals scored by Canadian teams. By contrast, Americans have accounted for 17.1 percent of player games played for American teams, and they have 15.0 percent of the goals scored by American teams. GamesGoalsAssistsPoints And in terms of Canadian teams that employ Americans, the Leafs rank low by percentage. Maple Leafs10.29.710.09.9 Canada11.9%10.6%10.9%10.7% Jets*21.521.422.822.3 United States17.115.015.515.3 Share by Americans Senators13.613.111.512.1 Only includes statistics by skaters (i.e., excludes goalies).Source: Hockey-Reference.com Share of Tm. Total by Americans Flames13.5%13.1%14.6%14.1% Which Canadian teams are outsourcing their hockey work?Share of total team player games played and offensive production (by skaters) for American players on Canadian franchises, 1967-68 to 2017-18 TeamGamesGoalsAssistsPoints Nordiques184.108.40.206.7 Canucks8.88.06.57.1 Oilers11.99.410.810.3 Canadiens220.127.116.11.1 Never trust an American to do a Canadian’s job, eh?Share of team stats produced by skaters born in the United States vs. Canada by franchise location, 1967-68 to 2017-18 * Includes both the pre-1997 Jets (who later became the Arizona Coyotes) and 2012-present Jets (who were formerly the Atlanta Thrashers).Source: Hockey-Reference.com Since expansion, Americans have accounted for just 10.2 percent of their skater games played. Only the Vancouver Canucks (8.8 percent) and Quebec Nordiques (4.4 percent)3Who, by the way, haven’t existed since they moved to Denver and became the Colorado Avalanche in 1995.have employed Americans at a lower rate. It’s strange, then, that they’ve hitched their wagon to a kid for whom pond hockey was a thing that only happened in Disney movies.The move has paid off so far: If Matthews isn’t the best player in the world, he’s not far off. And if he delivers the Stanley Cup to long-suffering Leafs fans, nobody in Toronto will think twice about where their savior grew up.
FiveThirtyEight Embed Code More: Apple Podcasts | ESPN App | RSS | Embed As the MLB trade deadline rapidly approaches, the New York Mets surprised fans and analysts alike with the acquisition of Marcus Stroman. Aside from this questionable move, there hasn’t been much buying and selling across teams. The Hot Takedown crew breaks down why this might be, what trades we still expect to see before the deadline and what effect this could have on the rest of the season.Journalist Lyndsey D’Arcangelo, whose work can be seen on The Athletic, joins the show to discuss the state of the WNBA as we head into the second half. D’Arcangelo helps make sense of the increased parity in the league and takes stock of the players having breakout seasons and the teams vying for the title.Our Rabbit Hole looks at those who occasionally lose their cool.What we’re looking at this week:Our thoughts on which teams should be buying and selling this MLB trade deadline.Our MLB model heading into the home stretch of the season.Lyndsey D’Arcangelo’s midseason breakdown of the WNBA for The Athletic.In light of Trevor Bauer’s heave, a list of similar outbursts.
OSU senior Jalen Washington, who is transitioning from catcher to shortstop, bats during the Scarlet and Gray in late-October. Credit: Courtesy of OSU AthleticsIn January, things do not seem to be too busy around Bill Davis Stadium, home of the Ohio State baseball team. With the first game of the season not until Feb. 17, when the Buckeyes face off against Kansas State in Osceola, Florida, the players are still participating in the occasional workout and batting cage session. However, with every crack of the bat and smack of the catcher’s mitt, OSU is in the middle of one of the most integral parts of any season: creating a team identity.Senior and returning captain Jalen Washington is familiar with having to help build a team chemistry. Now as he moves from behind the plate to the shortstop, the leadership aspect of his game does not seem to be going anywhere.Ever since Washington first stepped foot onto the OSU campus, he felt he had something to prove.“Like freshman or sophomore year, I wasn’t as much of a vocal leader,” Washington said. “I was one that was always pushing the envelope trying to prove myself, trying to make a name for myself and lead by example — working my butt off on the field and off the field.”With work came reward for Washington who was named as a captain of the team heading into his junior season and even before he had played on a regular basis.“He had never been a starter before,” OSU coach Greg Beals said. “That says an awful lot about what his teammates think about him and says an awful lot about his work ethic and what he does.”This was not the only thing that made Washington stand out to his teammates and the coaching staff. It was also his ability to play all over the diamond if needed to.“Pretty much in summer ball and in high school, they used to put me at different positions every year,” Washington said. “I feel like it has always been a tool that I have had and being able to show it off on this big a stage is a pretty cool thing.”Washington’s versatility is what caused Beals to put him behind the plate to see what he could do as a catcher.“I was really intrigued by the possibility, being a catching guy myself, of working with someone of that athleticism, somebody that really hadn’t done a lot of catching before, but was a good athlete, and see if we can teach him the skills of catching,” Beals said. “I also believe that the catching position is becoming more of an athletic, a quicker, lower to the ground type of guy as opposed to the bigger, big, sturdy, strong catchers that used to be the prototype.”Washington started to perfect the art of being a leader behind the plate out of necessity.“Being a catcher is more that just catching and throwing the ball,” Washington said. “You’re the leader of the team. Everyone is looking at you.”Without ever starting a game at catcher going into the 2016 season, Washington had a .992 fielding percentage and threw out 27 percent of potential base stealers, while also being named to the Johnny Bench Award watch list, just the fifth time a OSU catcher has been named to this list. However, his offensive approach did not match the normal stereotypical catcher.“The skill set of being an athlete is different because in that skill set, it also allows him to be a bunt guy and a run guy on the offensive side,” Beals said. “That’s very different than your normal catching prospect.”Going into the 2017 season, Beals had a different idea for how to maximize Washington’s ability for this team. He will move to shortstop with sophomore catchers Jacob Barnwell and Andrew Fishel taking the reps behind the plate, something that is not a very common move in baseball.“To go from catcher to shortstop, you don’t hear that very often,” Beals said. “It speaks volumes to Jalen’s athletic ability, his versatility as an athlete.”Washington is very proud of his flexibility on the baseball field. His work around the diamond sets him apart from many other players at the college level.“I think that it shows that I have more tools than the other guys do and I’m a little bit more versatile,” Washington said. “Being a catcher, you can show your hands and your feet, but being at shortstop, I can show more athleticism.”With the move to the infield, Washington moves from having to lead the pitcher through his outing to leading the infield. Redshirt junior pitcher Adam Niemeyer said he believes Washington’s knowledge of the game will create a smooth transition.“Last year, he did a great job controlling the game behind the plate,” Niemeyer said. “You know, being in sync with a pitcher is being on the same page. This year, moving to shortstop, really just shows how intelligent he is at the game of baseball and how he can kind of handle doing two totally different positions and do them both very well.”Moving out of the crouch, Washington can now extend his offensive ability, especially on the bases. Last season, he stole 14 bases on 19 opportunities. With the move to shortstop, Washington feels as though that his base running ability will increase dramatically.“When you are catching three, four games a weekend, your legs are pretty worn out,” Washington said. “I see myself as a base stealer, so I feel like I’ll be able to steal more bases, put our offense in better positions to have success.”No matter where Washington will be playing for this OSU team, Beals said he believes Washington will be an integral part of where the Buckeyes will end up at the end of the 2017 season and why.“Our cultural blueprint that we have for our team, one of the last sentences on it is, ‘work to earn trust every day,’ and Jalen Washington does that,” Beals said. “He works extremely hard and he has earned the trust of his teammates.”
The air came out of the balloon in Ohio State football’s 2011 season with a too-close-for-comfort win against Indiana. The Buckeyes (6-0, 2-0 Big Ten) will try to avoid another deflating performance against the Hoosiers (2-3, 0-2 Big Ten) Saturday in Bloomington, Ind. OSU’s signature victory of the 2011 season came on Oct. 29 against Wisconsin in a 33-29 victory at Ohio Stadium. The next week, though, OSU disappointed in its 34-20 win against an Indiana team the Buckeyes couldn’t put away until late in the game. Last season’s win against Indiana, which finished the season 1-11, left OSU coaches and players spending post-game interviews explaining away their performance, proved to be a momentum buster – OSU lost four straight to close out the season. OSU is coming off what appears to have been the 2012 season’s signature win on Saturday, a 63-38 drubbing of visiting Nebraska. The kind of letdown OSU experienced against the Hoosiers in November 2011 seems unlikely to occur again this weekend, and the formidable OSU offense might be enough to do the Hoosiers in. The Buckeyes, ranked No. 8 in the Associated Press Top 25 poll, just posted their highest offensive output since a Sept. 21, 1996 game against Pittsburgh. OSU won that game, 72-0. The Buckeyes scored 73 points against Eastern Michigan during the 2010 season, which was later vacated. Can Indiana hang with the high-flying Buckeyes’ offensive attack, and what about the Hoosier defense? Decide for yourself after seeing how the teams match up. Offense OSU will put points on the board against Indiana, that much we know. The Buckeyes are 22nd in America with almost 39 points per game. At almost 250 yards per game, OSU is also the 10th-ranked rushing offense in the country. Leading OSU’s charge on the ground is sophomore quarterback Braxton Miller, who has 763 yards, eight touchdowns and an average of more than 127 yards per game. Miller also set a new single-game, OSU quarterback rushing record against Nebraska with 186 yards on the ground. Indiana’s offense racks up plenty of yards – the Hoosiers have the 26th-ranked total offense as they average just less than 472 yards per game and score almost 33 points per game. The Hoosiers defense has struggled at times, having allowed 41 points against Ball State on Sept. 15, 44 against Northwestern on Sept. 29 and 31 against Michigan State on Oct. 6. With that in mind, the Buckeyes’ offense could hang another big number on the scoreboard this weekend. Defense OSU and Indiana’s respective defensive units have had trouble keeping teams out of the end zone in 2012, but the Buckeyes seem to be in a better position for success on Saturday considering recent success in some areas. The Buckeyes’ defense has demonstrated a propensity for making big plays and enter Saturday’s game with 13 takeaways on the year – OSU has 10 interceptions, three fumble recoveries and two turnovers returned for a touchdown (sophomore cornerback Bradley Roby has both touchdowns). Against Nebraska, OSU tallied four sacks and nine tackles for loss despite allowing the Cornhuskers to score 38 points in the game. The Hoosiers’ defense has forced opponents into five turnovers this season, including three interceptions and two fumble recoveries. Indiana is allowing 441 yards per game in 2012 and has allowed more touchdowns (17) than any other Big Ten Conference team. Special Teams OSU junior receiver Corey Brown is coming into the matchup with Indiana with the hot special teams hands following his 76-yard punt return for a touchdown to put the game out of reach Saturday against Nebraska. For the season, OSU is averaging 12 yards per punt return, which is good enough for 33rd in America. Indiana’s punt return game doesn’t match OSU’s – the Hoosiers are averaging more than six yards per punt return. Kickoff returns are a different story – Indiana averages more than 28 yards per return in that category, and bests OSU’s nearly 20 yards per return. As far as kicking goes, OSU junior Drew Basil has connected on each field goal attempt this season, but he’s only attempted two. By contrast, Indiana redshirt junior kicker Mitch Ewald is 5-of-8 on field goal attempts. Ewald has also proven his ability from distance, connecting on 2-of-2 tried from 30-39 yards and hitting 1-of-3 tries from 40-49 yards.
In a corporate-like manner, running backs coach Stan Drayton explained how the Ohio State football team’s offense still hasn’t reached its potential. Based on his calculation, it’s really not even close. “We operated at probably about 60 percent last year,” Drayton said. In most contexts, it’s a figure hardly associated as a passing grade and arguably less than a fitting one for an offense that averaged 37 points per game. If functioning at only 60 percent, though, the Buckeyes weren’t half bad last year. In its first undefeated season since 2002, OSU’s revitalized offense ranked 21st out of 124 Football Bowl Subdivision teams in scoring offense en route to a total of 446 points. In particular, it was the Buckeyes’ ground game that breathed life into such success. Under the direction of coach Urban Meyer, OSU’s 10th-ranked rushing offense averaged 242 yards rushing behind the steady legs of rising junior quarterback Braxton Miller and rising senior running back Carlos Hyde. Miller ran the ball for 1,271 yards and 13 touchdowns while Hyde ran for 970 yards and 16 scores. The duo proved potent throughout OSU’s 2012 campaign, but Drayton said tape of last year reveals a clear weakness. “Here’s the deal: when you sit there and you study our film, you see safeties sitting there at eight yards because (Hyde and Miller) are in the backfield,” he said. Why? He said it stems from the lack of a consistent aerial attack. “The moment we are able to pose a pass threat, those safeties can’t sit at eight yards around the box,” Drayton said, “they’re going to have to play defense and play some coverage.” At times, Miller and the Buckeyes found ways to air the ball out. But collectively, OSU finished 105th in passing yards per game. It’s why in addition to developing the team’s relatively young receiving corps, OSU is trying to mold rising redshirt senior running back Jordan Hall into a hybrid type of player – one who can attack opposing defenses with his prowess for not only running the ball, but catching it in space as well. “We have a lot of playmakers on offense, first off. I think I can just be another one, another person the defense has to prepare for,” Hall said. Touted as likely the starting running back heading into 2012, Hall missed nine games last year with a torn PCL before being granted a medical redshirt for the 2013 season. The Jeannette, Pa., native, who served as captain last season, said he’s trying to embrace what the coaching staff wants him to be. But even Hall said his role is mysterious to him as it is to those trying to figure out what impact he could have on this year’s squad. “I really don’t know to be honest … I’m really trying to figure it out for myself, too,” Hall said. “I knew everything at running back and, right now, I’m still trying to learn this position.” Still, Hall said it’s a position that accentuates his skill set. “Usually when you catch the ball as a receiver, there’s two people to make miss,” he said. “And as a running back, you got to run through D-line, linebackers, safeties.” For OSU, the man trucking through defenses’ lines of resistance is Hyde, who came back to Columbus after flirting with the possibility of jumping to the NFL. “I thought about it, yeah. But then I really thought hard, and I was like, I want to come back, you know?” said Hyde, who started at running back last season. “I want to come back and get that 1,000 yards, you know, and raise that crystal ball, so why not?” The move could pay dividends for an OSU team trying to improve its aerial attack but maintain a steady punch with the running game. “Once we get that balance in our offense, we’re hoping it to be very explosive here,” Drayton said. It could be the difference in the Buckeyes’ chase for a Big Ten and national championship.
Redshirt-senior quarterback Kenny Guiton (13) dances with his teammates after a game against Purdue Nov. 2 at Ross-Ade Stadium. OSU won, 56-0.Credit: Shelby Lum / Photo editorFor a moment, the fans in Ohio Stadium held their breath.Then-sophomore quarterback Braxton Miller was on his way to the hospital and OSU’s undefeated season laid in the hands of then-redshirt-junior Kenny Guiton.Guiton led the Buckeyes on a game tying touchdown drive with 3 seconds left in regulation, and to an eventual 29-22 overtime win against Purdue Oct. 20, 2012.It was a moment that stands out in his five-year OSU career, Guiton said Monday, because of what it meant to the team.“No. 1, that Purdue game last year. Just coming in and (saving) a 12-0 season. You know, I don’t think that I did it on my own or anything, but just keeping that 12-0 alive and I think that was big for our seniors,” Guiton said. “Being that it was my first piece of some real action so that was pretty cool to do.”This season, Guiton has turned into somewhat of a celebrity at OSU. His entrance into the game invites chants of “Kenny G” from the Ohio Stadium crowd.Saturday at 3:30 p.m. against Indiana (4-6, 2-4) is set to be Guiton’s final game in the Horseshoe as a Buckeye. Although he enjoys hearing his name screamed by the fans, Guiton said Saturday is going to be special for his family.“I hear that a lot,” Guiton said about hearing the chants. “One thing I’m happy about, my family coming up and getting to see that. I came all the way out here from Texas and (my) family don’t get to make (it up) much so them being here and seeing that, that will be so cool. I can’t wait for that.”But Guiton said despite the highs, Senior Day is going to be very emotional for all of those involved.“I actually thought about it a lot. I’ve been talking to a lot of guys about it … and we’re just like man, we can’t talk about that. We kind of get sentimental behind it. It’s going to be a touchy day … some tears may come out but I’m hoping not.”Miller went down with an sprained MCL earlier this season, this time missing two whole games and the majority of a third. “Kenny G” came in and impressed in Miller’s absence, throwing for a program record six touchdowns against Florida A&M Sept. 21.Coach Urban Meyer said Sept. 16, the Monday after Guiton’s first career start against California, he had been impressed with the play of his backup quarterback.“It’s arguably one of the most interesting case studies I’ve ever had as a coach is the story of Kenny Guiton … can you imagine being his parent right now, how cool that would be to see his development?” Meyer said. “If you buy stock, buy stock in Kenny Guiton.”Guiton said although the moment against Purdue will always stand out, this year has been something special as well.“I can’t settle down on this year either because it’s like, I never saw myself being the national player of the week,” Guiton said.Guiton was named the national player of the week after a 52-34 win against California, when he threw for 276 yards and four touchdowns.Despite Guiton’s big numbers at times this season, and popularity among the fans, Miller remains the starter for OSU, a fact that doesn’t bother Guiton.“Braxton deserves that credit,” Guiton said. “He puts in all the work, he’s a leader. He keeps his head up when stuff’s not going right. He’s keeping the team’s head up.”Miller said Nov. 13 after practice that his relationship with Guiton has been a big help to his growth as a player while he’s been at OSU.“I look up to him as a big brother, I’ve talked to him ever since I was being recruited,” Miller said.Meyer agreed, adding that Guiton has been a big help in Braxton’s improvement since his freshman season.“Now they’re both operating at a very high level,” Meyer said Nov. 13. “They’ve practice very hard, they prepare very hard, much different than a year ago, so I think Kenny had a lot to do with it and it’s a direct results of the way he prepares, the way he practices.”Guiton said Meyer treats the players and staff like a family.“One thing about coach Meyer is he’s straightforward. He’s going to tell you what he’s feeling. He’ll let you know what type of player you are and what he’s expecting out of you,” Guiton said. “I think that’s great … Everything’s said and we’re a family. He actually treats us like a family. And I think it’s really cool.”After the No. 3-ranked Buckeyes’ (10-0, 6-0) game against the Hoosiers, Guiton will not be returning to Ohio Stadium as a player for OSU. But that doesn’t rule out a potential future in Columbus for Guiton.“I have told the coaches that I want to do the coaching thing,” Guiton said. “So I hope so.”