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News, Scores, Teams, Stories & More on Northeast OH Sports on cleveland.com

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    The Indians, now that the regular season has ended, have until Friday to submit their 25-man roster for the best-of-five ALDS that starts the same day.

    With playoff baseball right around the corner, cleveland.com is taking a look at the biggest issues facing Terry Francona and the Cleveland Indians. As the 2018 regular season winds down, the answers to these questions will reveal whether or not the Tribe is Ready for October.

    KANSAS CITY - So what comes first, the no doubters or the bubble players when a team picks its 25-man roster for the postseason?

    The Indians have been sorting through their roster since before they clinched the AL Central on Sept. 15. It must be submitted to the commissioner's office by 10 a.m. Friday, a few hours before the Indians and Astros meet in Game 1 of the ALDS at Minute Maid Park in Houston.

    But manager Terry Francona talked to select players during the final regular season trip through Chicago and Kansas City which ended Sunday at Kauffman Stadium to give them an idea if they had made it or not. So, let's take a look at the Tribe's potential postseason roster starting with the players you can count on making the roster.

    Infielders (five): Yonder Alonso, Jose Ramirez, Francisco Lindor, Josh Donaldson and Edwin Encarnacion.

    Catchers (two): Yan Gomes, providing his right thumb is healed after it came into contact with Alex Gordon's bat on Saturday night, and Roberto Perez.

    Outfielders (three): Jason Kipnis, Michael Brantley and Melky Cabrera.

    Starting pitchers (four): Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Mike Clevinger and Trevor Bauer.

    Relievers (four): Cody Allen, Andrew Miller, Brad Hand and Oliver Perez.

    That's 18 players, meaning there are seven spots to fill. Which leads us to these four questions?

    *Can the Indians carry four lefties in the bullpen? Miller, Perez and Hand are already on the team, but Tyler Olson has looked good of late.

    *Can outfielders Greg Allen and Rajai Davis make the roster?

    *Does infielder Yandy Diaz have a chance to make it?

    *What about utility man Erik Gonzalez, who is in concussion protocol?

    Last year Olson didn't allow a run in 30 appearances with the Indians. He's been human this year, but in his last 14 games he didn't allow a run, striking out 16 in 9 2/3 innings. The thing working against Olson is that Houston's lineup is predominantly right-handed.

    Francona said Sunday, to the surprise of no one, that Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco will start Games 1 and 2 against the Astros on Friday and Saturday, which means right-hander Trevor Bauer, still recovering from a stress fracture in his right leg, will open the series in the bullpen. Mike Clevinger, another right-hander who is in line to start Game 3 or 4, could be available out of the pen in the early going. All that works against the Tribe carrying four lefty relievers.

    In the case of Allen and Davis, they do the same thing - steal bases and primarily play center fielder. While Davis has been replacing Kipnis in center field for defense the last couple weeks, Francona has been using Davis more as a pinch runner so perhaps there is room for both because of the value he puts on speed and baserunning.

    "Those are some of the things we've been working through," said Francona.

    If it comes down to a choice between the two, the switch-hitting Allen would probably be the pick. He hit .258 (68-for-264) with 11 doubles, three triples and 21 steals in 25 attempts. Last year he made the ALDS roster in the same role.

    Diaz didn't make the ALDS roster last year and when Edwin Encarnacion twisted his ankle in Game 2 the Indians were caught short. It was one of several things that went awry for the Tribe in the five-game series loss.

    If Francona needs a bat off the bench, Diaz could help. He hit .273 (12-for-44) against lefties, .328 (21-for-64) against righties and .333 (11-for-33) with runners in scoring position.

    Gonzalez was hit in the head by a pitch on Wednesday night against the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field. He's still in MLB's concussion protocol and until he's released he's unavailable to play. Diaz has played first and third this year and Jose Ramirez could move over to shortstop with Kipnis moving back to second in case of an emergency. Or veteran utility man Adam Rosales could make the roster.

    Last year the Indians went with an 11-man pitching staff against the Yankees in the ALDS. Asked if he would do that again, Francona said, "There are no guarantees."

    But 11 pitchers is a good starting point, which means the Indians have to fill three vacancies. The candidates include Shane Bieber, Adam Cimber, Jon Edwards, Olson, Dan Otero, Adam Plutko, Neil Ramirez and Josh Tomlin.

    Bieber went 11-5 with a 4.55 ERA in 20 games, including 19 starts this year. The Indians experimented with him coming out of the bullpen on Aug. 21 against Boston and things went well until he hit a snag in the seventh inning.

    They could do the same thing against the Astros. Last year they had starters Clevinger, Danny Salazar and Tomlin in the bullpen.

    The Indians acquired Cimber and Hand from San Diego in July. Cimber is a submarining right-hander who could give Houston's right-handed hitters a different look. He limited righties to a .239 (44-for-184) batting average with four homers this year.

    Otero, after an up and down season, posted a 2.89 ERA in September. Edwards has shown good velocity, but he may be more on the Tribe's radar for 2019. Plutko has been used primarily as a starter, while Ramirez has pitched better since coming off the disabled list on Sept. 2, but allowed 17 earned runs in his last 23 2/3 innings. Tomlin held the Royals one run over 4 2/3 innings on Thursday, but his season as a whole was a struggle.

    In the outfield, Brandon Guyer has been Cabrera's platoon partner in right field. He's had some injury problems, lately a sore right shoulder, but Francona likes him against left-handed pitchers. Houston has lefty Dallas Keuchel in the rotation, while Tony Sipp is their busiest lefty reliever. Guyer hit .233 (24-for-103) with five homers and 17 RBI against lefties this year.

    If Gomes can't play Friday, Roberto Perez would start. If the Indians didn't think Gomes could play in the series, rookie Eric Haase would make the roster. Francona, however, said everything is pointing toward Gomes being able to play Friday.

    More Ready for October posts:

    What can Josh Donaldson bring to the Indians in October?

    Is Jason Kipnis the Tribe's best option in center?

    Who should be the Tribe's 4 starting pitchers in the ALDS?

    Does Terry Francona plan to rest starters down the stretch?

    Will the Tribe get vintage Andrew Miller for its playoff push?

    How will Cody Allen's September sabbatical help in the postseason?

    Which Houston Astros pitchers have had the most success against Indians pitchers?

    How will Houston Astros pitchers attack Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez in the ALDS?

    Which Indians hitters have had the most success against Houston's pitchers?


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    The undefeated Buckeyes are 3-2 against the spread this season.

    COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Are the Ohio State Buckeyes ready to cover a big number again?

    For their home game Saturday against the Indiana Hoosiers, the Buckeyes were installed as an early 27-point point favorite at vegasinsider.com, but that line already dropped Sunday night to 25.5 points.

    This comes after Indiana was on the other side of a big line as a 16.5-point favorite at Rutgers on Saturday, where the Hoosiers failed to cover, winning only 24-17.

    Now, Indiana is getting nearly four touchdowns.

    Indiana is 4-1 this season, with wins over Florida International, Virginia, Ball State and Rutgers. The loss was 35-21 at home to Michigan State.

    The Hoosiers have lost 23 straight to the Buckeyes, the last non-loss a tie at 27 in 1990. Indiana's last win in the series was 41-7 in 1988.

    In those 23 straight Ohio State wins, the Buckeyes have won by 26 or more 10 times. Ohio State won 49-21 at Indiana last year to open the season.

    The Buckeyes are 3-2 against the spread this season, covering their big numbers and failing to cover in closer games.

    Favored by 38.5 against Oregon State, they won by 46.

    Favored by 35.5 against Rutgers, they won by 49.

    Favored by 13 against TCU, they won by 12.

    Favored by 37 against Tulane, they won by 43.

    Favored by 3.5 against Penn State, they won by 1.

    This weekend is homecoming for Ohio State. The game kicks off at 4 p.m. and will be televised on Fox, with the game called by Aaron Goldsmith and Brady Quinn.


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    Catch up with the news and notes around Ohio State and college football.

    COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Get all the news around Ohio State football and other important teams in today's Buckeye Breakfast, compiled today by Ryan Isley. 

    No. 6 Notre Dame remains undefeated and looks primed for a spot in playoffs

    Notre Dame took a 7-point lead into the fourth quarter against Stanford on Saturday night and then junior quarterback Ian Book threw two touchdowns in 14 seconds to give the Fighting Irish a 38-17 lead and the win.

    Mike Berardino of the Indianapolis Star looks at how this game was different than games between these two teams, where Notre Dame has held a lead in the fourth quarter before allowing the Cardinal to ultimately come back and take the victory.

    It was just the second start of the season for Book, who had been sitting behind Brandon Wimbush at the beginning of the season. Book threw for 278 yards and four touchdowns against Stanford and also had 47 yards rushing. This came one week after Notre Dame beat Wake Forest 56-27 in a game where Book threw for 325 yards and two touchdowns and also scored three times on the ground.

    George Schroeder of USA Today thinks that Notre Dame is now a legitimate contender for the College Football Playoff with Book at quarterback.

    Postgame Buckeye Talk

    Ohio State won a thriller over Penn State in Happy Valley on Saturday night. After getting in a little bit of sleep, Doug Lesmerises and Bill Landis sit down and discuss what they learned about this Buckeyes team and answer your questions in the latest edition of the Buckeye Talk podcast.

    Buckeye Talk is supported by ShopOhioState.com and MinuteManTickets.com.

    No. 4 Clemson survives against Syracuse, but quarterback questions remain

    Clemson escaped with a narrow 27-23 win over Syracuse on Saturday to remain unbeaten at 5-0, but the win was the secondary story on the day.

    In the same week that quarterback Kelly Bryant announced he was leaving Clemson after head coach Dabo Swinney named Trevor Lawrence as the starter and relegated Bryant to the backup role, Lawrence was injured in the Tigers' 27-23 win over Syracuse. After taking a hit to the head, the freshman was experiencing concussion-like symptoms and did not return. Chase Brice replaced Lawrence on Saturday.

    The Tigers trailed for the entire second half until Travis Etienne scored on a 2-yard run to give Clemson the lead of the day in the final minute. The touchdown run capped off a 14-play, 94-yard drive.

    Laken Litman of Sports Illustrated looks at if the injury to Lawrence might change the decision of Bryant to transfer

    QB Kyler Murray didn't start for No. 7 Oklahoma on Saturday but still tied Sooners record

    Kyler Murray did what a lot of college kids do on a Friday morning - he overslept. But for Murray, his sleep cost him his job as Oklahoma's starting quarterback against Baylor. Well, for a couple of minutes anyway.

    After Austin Kendall started the game in place of Murray, the junior came in on the second drive and gave a glimpse of what he was going to do to the Baylor secondary all day with a 9-yard touchdown pass to Lee Morris.

    When all was said and done, Murray had thrown for 432 yards and six touchdown passes in a 66-33 win for the Sooners. He also accounted for a seventh touchdown with a 1-yard run as the third quarter ended. The seven total touchdowns tied the Oklahoma record held by 2017 Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield.

    Bill Haisten of Tulsa World dives into what was one of the best quarterback performances in Oklahoma Sooner history.

    No. 14 Michigan overcomes slow start to defeat Northwestern, but is it a sign of things to come?

    Northwestern ran out to a 17-0 lead over Michigan Saturday afternoon before the Wolverines scored 20 unanswered points, including a touchdown with 4:06 left to play.

    This was just the second game on the road for Michigan this season, and the Wolverines got off to a slow start in each. In the first game, they were not able to bounce back in a 24-17 loss at Notre Dame in the season's first week.

    Nick Baumgardner of the Detroit Free Press says that if Michigan has slow starts later this season against teams who are better than Northwestern, it could be a problem for the Wolverines.

    Big Ten roundup

    Here is a roundup of other games from around the Big Ten.

    * Michigan State jumped out to a 31-3 lead before allowing Central Michigan to score 17 straight points in the fourth quarter in a 31-20 win for the Spartans.  All four touchdowns for Michigan State came on the ground, as quarterback Brian Lewerke scored twice and running backs La"Darius Jefferson and Conner Heyward each scored once.

    * Indiana held off a furious comeback attempt by Rutgers to pull out a 24-17 road win. The Scarlet Knights scored 10 points in the fourth quarter to cut a 24-7 lead to just 24-17 with 3:52 to play, but the Hoosiers picked up a first down by converting on a fourth down on the final drive of the game. Quarterback Peyton Ramsey led the Indiana offense by throwing for 288 yards and a touchdown and he also ran for 51 yards and scored a rushing touchdown.

    * Purdue used 27 straight points to defeat Nebraska in Lincoln 42-28 after the Cornhuskers took a 7-0 lead.  The Boilermakers rushed for four touchdowns, led by D.J. Knox, who scored twice and had 87 yards rushing. Purdue won despite giving up 582 yards of offense.

    Catching up on Sunday's Ohio State news

    * Bill writes that in the win over Penn State, the college football world was introduced to Chase Young.

    * Bill takes a look at what we learned about Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins in the come-from-behind win.

    * Doug says that without their usual crutch to lean on, the Buckeyes found a new way to escape a hostile environment with a win.

    * Bill looks at the play that may not have only changed the game, but also wide receiver Ben Victor's career.

    * Ohio State moved up to No. 3 in the AP poll. Check out Bill's ballot.

    Ryan Isley is a freelancer from Akron.


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    Appreciate any win like Saturday when the division features opponents this tough.

    COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ohio State dominated the Big Ten for a decade and at times it felt like it didn't impress anyone because why would it, Michigan and Penn State stunk.

    Michigan averaged 7.3 wins per year between 2005 and 2014, so whoop-de-doo, the Buckeyes beat the Wolverines nine of those 10 years and half the wins were by double-digits, but of course that happened - Michigan was blah.

    Penn State averaged 7.5 wins per year between 2010 and 2015, so again, whatever, the Buckeyes beat the Nittany Lions in five of those six years by an average margin of 24 points, but of course that happened - Penn State was ugh.

    Then ... the Big Ten found its way.

    And this, dear Ohio State fans, is the result. You go to Happy Valley on a Saturday night, the opposing fans scream louder because their team is for real, and if you win in the last nano-second by a fraction, you count that as a great victory and go home and celebrate.

    The emails and tweets about the Buckeyes' problems (and there are some) and how lucky they were to win (and that might be true) must be tempered by the realization that when people say things like the Big Ten East might be the best division in college football - this is what we mean.

    The result is the Buckeyes might lose sometimes.

    Penn State is coming off consecutive 11-win seasons and looking like a top-10 team again. So the last three years, the Buckeyes have a loss and two 1-point wins over the Nittany Lions. That's the deal now.

    Michigan has 28 wins the last three years and is 4-1 and ranked No. 15, so the last two years saw the spot game of 2016 and the Dwayne Haskins miracle of 2017. That's the deal now.

    When your conference is for real, don't complain too much about wins over top-10 teams. 

    Penn State might be a playoff team, that's how real the Nittany Lions are. ESPN has them with better than a 50-50 chance to make the playoff even without winning the East if they win out - just like the Buckeyes made it in 2016.

     

    Penn State might win out. But the Nittany Lions can't win them all, because Ohio State got them.

    In this Big Ten East, that's quite an accomplishment. Make sure you realize it.

    Buckeye Take is a quick 300- to 400-word column on a single aspect of Ohio State football. We're trying to replicate in written form the feel of our Buckeye Talk Podcast, where we drop a multitude of opinions every week. We know not all of you listen to the pod (though you should), and we don't want you to miss out on what we're thinking about the Buckeyes.


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    Even stranger is the segment's over-the-top documentary style-- you know, the kind of unnecessarily melodramatic schtick normally reserved for ESPN's "Outside the Lines." Watch video

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- There were plenty of weird moments on TV over the weekend, from Kanye West dressed up as a water bottle on "SNL" to the strange sight of LeBron James in a Lakers uniform in his preseason debut.

    But the most inexplicable thing I saw was that "Johnny Manziel offers advice to Baker Mayfield" segment on ESPN's NFL Countdown on Sunday.

    I mean, what was that about?

    The premise -- that people compare Manziel and Mayfield all the time -- is lazy and outdated at best. The idea that anyone would care what advice Manziel has to give the Browns rookie quarterback or that it would be anything enlightened is a bigger reach than that never-used Magic Bullet you keep on the top shelf.

    Even stranger is the segment's over-the-top documentary style-- you know, the kind of unnecessarily melodramatic schtick normally reserved for ESPN's "Outside the Lines."

    "Dear Baker, if there's one thing you already know, one thing that everybody already knows, you and I are not the same person," Manziel says in voiceover in a scene straight out of a prison documentary or an Eminem video. "No matter how many people try to compare us, even before the same team drafted us, we know we are never fully defined by the way we play, or the uniform we wear."

    Manziel, shown deep in thought, wraps up the fake letter by wishing Mayfield the best.

    "I simply want to wish you all the success that you deserve. I hope you don't take a single day, a single snap, for granted. I hope you own the moment, and give the Browns fans every bit of happiness that they deserve."

    Alrighty then.

    Twitter, as it always does, had thoughts.


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    Hill, who made headlines last year for calling President Donald Trump a "white supremacist," is joining The Atlantic as a staff writer.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Former ESPN anchor Jemele Hill has a new gig.

    Hill, who made headlines last year for calling President Donald Trump a "white supremacist," is joining The Atlantic as a staff writer.

    "I'm very pleased to announce that the great Jemele Hill is joining The Atlantic as a staff writer," the publication's editor-in-chief Jeffrey Goldberg announced. "She'll be covering the intersection of sports, race, politics, gender, and culture for us. Welcome, Jemele."

    The Atlantic said Hill will begin next month and be based in the company's new Los Angeles office.

    Hill established herself a rising star on ESPN, co-anchoring a revamped, more personality-driven of the network's flagship edition of "SportsCenter." She ran into trouble with some viewers, however, after her tweets about Trump as well as the NFL's handling of the anthem controversy.

    She was suspended for two weeks for violating the network's social media policy and eventually left "SportsCenter" to write for The Undefeated, ESPN's vertical focusing on sports, race and culture.

    Since her departure, ESPN has transitioned "SportsCenter" back to a more traditional highlights show with more sports and less banter.


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    Haskins and Young earned Big Ten Player of the Week nods for their efforts in Ohio State's win over Penn State.

    COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins and defensive end Chase Young earned Big Ten Player of the Week nods for the Buckeyes' win over Penn State on Saturday.

    Haskins, who completed 22 of 39 attempts for 270 yards, three touchdowns and an interception, is Offensive Player of the Week for the third time this season. He also won the honor last week.

    The redshirt sophomore completed 15 of 23 passes for 212 yards and two touchdowns in the second half of OSU's comeback win.

    Young shares Defensive Player of the Week with Michigan defensive end Chase Winovich. Young had six tackles, three for loss, two sacks and two pass breakups in the win over Penn State.


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    Ohio State is 5-0, but head coach Urban Meyer believes their best football is ahead. Watch video

    COLUMBUS, Ohio - Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer met with the media Monday following the Buckeyes' 27-26 win over Penn State this weekend and to preview the upcoming game against Indiana. Here are the highlights of the press conference, as compiled by Ryan Isley.

    * Meyer says the offensive player of the game against Penn State was receiver Terry McLaurin, despite not having any catches. "What's the culture and expectation level to play here? He's the epitome right now." The defensive player of the game was Chase Young, while four players shared special teams honors.

    * Meyer says despite being 5-0, Ohio State has not yet played its best game. Meyer said the team has a "tremendous ceiling" but has not yet reached it.

    * On the injury front, Dre'Mont Jones and Damon Arnette are both probable this week after being injured against Penn State.

    * Meyer called the wide receivers an "elite" blocking group. He said that calling them "great" wasn't strong enough. Says that there was a time when Ben Victor "darn near refused to block" but he had one of the biggest blocks of the game on Saturday.

    * When asked if he is not comfortable about not having a quarterback who runs like quarterbacks he has had in the past, Meyer laughs and says Ohio State is 5-0. Also mentions that he has coached guys like Cardale Jones, Chris Leak and Alex Smith who were more drop-back passers than runners.

    * There is still not a clear answer on who will start at safety against Indiana with Isaiah Pryor being forced to miss the first half after his targeting ejection in the win over Penn State.

    * Meyer said Indiana has played "very well" and called Indiana quarterback Peyton Ramsey a gutsy player who can do multiple things for the Hoosiers.

    * Meyer said he was told he cannot appeal the targeting call on Pryor. He said he doesn't have time to argue the call but says there was no intent or no crown used. Says "it's done and we are moving forward."

    - Ryan Isley is a freelancer from Akron.



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    Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer met with the media on Monday to discuss the win over Penn State and look ahead to the game against Indiana. Watch video

    COLUMBUS, Ohio - Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer met with the media Monday. Here is the transcript of all that was said during his weekly press conference:

    MEYER: A couple of comments first, as I try to do every time. Sincerely on behalf of our players and staff, Buckeye Nation was awesome. They are up in that right-hand corner up there. But thanks for following us.

    Also great respect for our opponent, that was a real one, that was a very talented team. And that quarterback (PSU's Trace McSorley), I just always try to do that, -- when I talked to Coach Schiano today, that's a competitive guy. And like I said, I don't know him personally, competed against him for several years. So very competitive player, great player.

    With that said, review champions with you. On defense, Jonathan Cooper, played very well. Davon Hamilton, Malik Harrison, Pete Warner, Tuf Borland, Kendall Sheffield, Jeffrey Okudah, Jordan Fuller. Defensive player of the game was Chase Young. Had three tackles, three assists, three tackles for loss, two sacks, two QB hurries, and two QB knock downs.

    Ohio State offense champions, JK Dobbins, 20 touches for almost 220 yards, two touchdowns; Weber played well, still battling through that foot, but getting closer to 100 percent this week.

    Receivers, Ben Victor, I've been telling you about him the last couple of weeks. His 47-yard reception was a game-changer for us. Johnnie Dixon, KJ Hill, and Austin Mack. Those guys are playing with selflessness and blocking. You remember in 2014, I made comments about that group, and this is still too early, but there's a lot of similarities between that group. And obviously Spencer was a lead guy back then and I'm looking at these guys, some of the things they're doing A to Z, with the receiver play on special teams is phenomenal.

    Offensive linemen, Isaiah Pryor, Michael Jordan. And the player of the game which is incredible, did have one catch, but Terry McLaurin was offensive player of the game. And what's the culture, what's the expectation level of the play here, he's the epitome right now. Once again I use the word Evan Spencer around here, I've been told I get carried away at times, I do, I get carried away with guys like Terry McLaurin, him and Harris and those guys just go so hard.

    Leads me into this: Player of the game on special teams, we have four of them.  Jeffrey Okudah, he had three tackles on punt, and he was the first out on kickoff. He was performing at an elite, elite level. And we've punted far too many times, nine punts, 50 yards, that just do the math on that, but that's a lot of yards. Throughout the course of the game against a very good team, an excellent returner, and also playing all those plays on defense.

    Justin Hilliard is also co-player of the game. Kickoff was phenomenal. And punt was phenomenal. And he's on all four units. Elite player for us.

    Terry McLaurin, he had three tackles on punt, he downed the punt on the 2-yard line. And just once again those guys on the sideline, him and Okudah were just blown out to the point where most average human beings would pull themselves out of the game, especially when Damon Arnette went down in the fourth quarter, more stress on Jeffrey Okudah.

    Our punter, I can't imagine one better, I haven't studied the country, he had nine punts, which is far too many, 47-yard net. I want to say 2 return yards on three attempts, I think that's what it was.

    So that's where we're at. I could go on for the next hour and a half and talk about special teams because that was significant as anything, especially the punt -- our punt coverage. That's elite right now, and it's driven by two guys that are also starters on offensive defense.

    We still need to get more production out of some people that have been with the program for a year or two or are freshmen, and are talented, but they've got to play.

    Game 6 coming up, and we are banged up, like every team in the country. So our guys have to contribute in some way or the other. That was the meeting yesterday and that will be the continuation as we continue going forward.

    Q. Last year you with huge comebacks, and high stakes, what's the message to the team this week to make sure their level remains what it needs to be?

    MEYER: We haven't had that conversation yet. We will. That's real. That's -- especially in places like Penn State where it will be a really good team, and now prepare for another really good team. That will be the message.

    Q. When you look back at that game, do you think --

    MEYER: I only look forward at all.

    Q. What specifically look do you need to shore up, fix, whatever, to be effective down the stretch?

    MEYER: That's a great question. You just have to evaluate the plays. And on punt, punt was really good, other than two plays. That's not acceptable. We gave up 90-plus yard reception in man coverage, we had the quarterback (McSorley) that was performing one of his best games in his career, some was scramble, some was direct run.

    When you have that kind of player, that's a hard thing to defend. We also threw on point.

    So the answer is you have to play better. I think that's the same conversation we've had. Now we have some new players, but it's week six.

    Q. Defensive coaches have been saying the guys they're still growing, maybe more than usual. And you've got an experienced quarterback. I'm wondering if this team is farther from its ceiling than most teams usually would be at this point?

    MEYER: I think that's a great question, because you're 5-0. And we haven't played close to our best game. It's all relative. Where were you? We've a great environment, but we made that with the players we had.

    So that was two sledgehammers going against each other, two very talented teams. So I think you watch the film and at times awesome. The fourth quarter on offense was perfect. Not perfect, but well done. The first two quarters, you have you can't say you've got to do this, you've got to do this. Look at who you're playing against. They did a very good job with what they were doing, which was basically pressuring us 80 percent of the time, and we didn't handle it well. We ended handling it well the second half.

    This team, to answer your question, there is a tremendous ceiling on this, and we haven't got close to it.

    Q. You mentioned Damon Arnette. And Dre'Mont Jones, how are they --

    MEYER: It was a tough game. Dre'Mont is probable. He has a strain, but he's very probable. Damon Arnette is probable. . . . 

    Q. I'm wondering from Dwayne struggling, and then comes up big, what did you learn about him, what did you learn about your team?

    MEYER: Yeah, those are usually conversations after the season. Because we're right in it, and our focus is, with all due respect, everybody here starts reflecting, from a really good Indiana team, and in time we'll have that chat.

    Q. Why not mix in some quarterback sneaks for certain situations?

    MEYER: A lot of different reasons. You see teams a lot, that's operating 99.999 out of the shotgun, and they go to center and they drop the ball, just because you don't do it. We've had those conversations over and over again.

    Q. Why not just practice it more? Seems like such an effective play?

    COACH MEYER: Duly noted (laughter.) Thank you.

    Q. (Inaudible.)

    MEYER: Elite blocking. Great is probably not a strong enough adjective for what's going on out there. Ben Victor, I'm saying this, because I love him, darn near refused to block, didn't play him a lot. He has one of the biggest blocks in the game Saturday. On left sideline. I can't remember who caught the ball, I don't care who caught the ball, I care about the blocking. It was elite. We had a little moment together with the other receivers and Ben Victor and he's become one of us. That's a pretty cool thing.

    Q. We haven't seen a lot of quarterback sneaks. We saw a lot of that on Saturday. How much of that is Ryan Day's influence?

    MEYER: A lot. We're a different team. The drop back pass, we're a drop back line. So what's the natural progression, it's tailback's slow screen. That was one of the big plays, the slow screen was big.

    Q. You talked about Terry McLaurin, what he's done, how important is it for you to recognize someone like him as the offensive player of the game and make that example, it's not just about catching passes?

    MEYER: Petit-Frere has always been an unselfish player. It's the same thing when you -- people -- with a short touchdown, you go hug the lineman. If not, you're not going to score anymore. That's -- it's the selfless, it's the fellowship of a team. That's what it's all about. So we spent -- usually it's a 30-minute team meeting, probably 45 minutes yesterday, and every player on the team watched the play. Every player on the team. And there's two reasons you do that, No. 1 is to show and reward the efforts of a player, but I'm also talking to that player, that it's four-star guy that makes it real good, but why are you not running down on punts, explain that to the team right now. Those are hard conversations to have, especially when you see Okudah and Terry.

    We do that, and what I do with you and minimal compared to what I do with the team, because that's a belief of our program.

    Q. KJ Hill had a knack for big plays in big games, what is it about him --

    MEYER: Just what you said, he's a tough dude, man, he's a really good football player on the bubble screen, and he's a great blocker. He can do it all.

    Q. Whenever you talk about having the drop back pass this year, you saw Trace running out there, we know how successful you've been with that. Is there a part of you that just still is not a hundred percent comfortable with the idea of you just don't have a quarterback, he's great, but he's not going to run 20 times. Does that still bother you at all?

    COACH MEYER: That's a good question (laughter.)

    Q. My guess would be it is.

    MEYER: Okay. (Laughter.) We're 5-0. I have two very good coaches, more than that, I have a very good offensive staff. It's comfort zone like that short yardage that I've been used to. People say are you going to run the quarterback again, but usually we see the official do this (indicating first down.)

    Those are great questions. So that's our philosophy, who's the best quarterback, Dwayne Haskins is playing his you know what off. Keep doing it. One thing, I'm also comfortable seeing the screens come out of his hands so fast. Seeing him with pinpoint accuracy. There's certain times of the game I'm used to having something in my pocket that it's not there. We had two situations Saturday that we haven't figured that out. One we didn't make it, one we made it by that (indicating.) So those are all questions that we have.

    Q. You maybe have a philosophy as a coach, but you do what is best. This is that action, right?

    MEYER: Sure. This is exactly that. We're throwing from 340 a game, something like that, and we're winning games. We're taking care of the football, and throwing the ball and utilizing some very good players. And he's a very good player.

    Q. I'm sure times in your career you've had teams midway through the season they're playing really well, but maybe you have an idea and then you have times maybe we're making some mistakes, but there's a lot more there.

    MEYER: With all due respect, we went on the road twice, against TCU, a top 10 team on the road and Penn State on the road. I don't know any school in the country that did that this year. We walked away with wins. Also we lost one of the top football players in America on defense. We're just coaching our tails off to make the guys better. Young players have to contribute. The ceiling here is -- we don't have time. We are just working on what we have to worry about.

    Q. Do you know how good this team is already, but --

    MEYER: Not even close to where we are.

    Q. We've all seen Chase Young, the game he had on Saturday, how much of a breakthrough is that and what is his ceiling?

    MEYER: He's had a little bit of an ankle, but he's been playing through it. You saw glimpses. He played outstanding Saturday. And that ceiling word again, he's just a second year player that's playing very well. And he has unlimited potential.

    Q. I guess it's the same situation, a huge win, against a team that can be dangerous.

    MEYER: Very dangerous.

    Q. What is your message?

    MEYER: Work really hard Tuesday and we'll have that chat.

    Q. You probably know this, but have you had any interaction with Luke Fickell or Mike Vrabel?

    MEYER: I did text him.

    Q. (Inaudible.)

    MEYER: Really happy for him. Those are two guys in my coaching career who are my favorite people for coaches.

    Q. Last week you talked about the linebackers, performing at their best, was there a message this week to them or about them?

    MEYER: Play better and let's get them in position to be successful.

    Q. Also, when you're playing a game on the road against Penn State or an opponent that you recruit against, how aware are you of players that are visiting that weekend? Mark Pantoni director of recruiting is really -- it's all about punting and third downs and all that.

    Q. (No microphone. ) Does that continue being a concern for you?

    MEYER: Yes, it is, we haven't made a final decision. We have three capables. This is going to be a big week in practice to determine what happens.

    Q. Will you have conversations with Greg, how often does that spot come up, are there common issues that you guys have seen?
    MEYER: Yes, when one breaks you've got to get him down. We've had a history of getting guys down. It's not been perfect all the time. We're a very aggressive coverage team. And there's been examples, those are things we're working on.

    Q. When you approach wide receivers about what it takes to play, and you broach the idea of blocking, what is the conversation? What is it that you express to them? When do they usually get it?
    MEYER: Well, depends on the individual. Usually Mike Thomas it took a while. There's a right of passage, and usually four months special teams before you catch a pass.

    Ben Victor is starting on kickoff return now. He never did that before. He's playing -- it was brought to my attention, I shared that with our team yesterday, this all triggered when he started four months on special teams, he had a sense of value, a sense of respect. That whole thing about respect. You've got to earn it. You're going to go block, and be on special teams, and then good things happen.

    Q. When in your background, did you come to that conclusion, that you're going to be a wide receiver, you're going to play for me. What was it that spurred that kind of thinking?
    MEYER: I think Ohio roots. The toughness, the part that's never been changed when you run a screen, by the way, on the last touchdown you block three people. KJ did a really good job. He handled the ball and high stepped it into the end zone, with all due respect to KJ, that's fine, but that's just about part of the DNA.

    Q. When you look at Indiana, what jumped out at you from a defensive standpoint?
    MEYER: They played very well. Their scheme is outstanding, I think they're very well coached. And they have answers for everything. That's -- we're just knee deep in it now, that's fine, initial reaction.

    Q. Do you expect teams to attack your defense on the edge? They came out last year. Do you expect that to continue?
    MEYER: Depends on the quarterback. They have a guy that's a dual in Ramsey, he's a gutsy player, man, and he's one of those guys that creates something out of nothing. Depends on what you're facing. Last year's quarterback that they started, he was dropping seeds on people. This has the other element.

    Q. Did you review the targeting calls on Isaiah, and what is your takeaway?
    MEYER: We turned it in, and came back and first of all, you can't appeal it. I didn't know that. You can't appeal it. I watched -- someone showed me on the phone. I understand it. Do I agree with it? I don't have time to argue with it. The call was made. Once again you talk about safety in players. We're all in here. There's no intent. There is no targeting, and we had a couple of those around here where the guys going to try to wipe them out, if you watch him he's going for the ball and contact was made. No time to argue.

    Q. As a coach in a moment when you guys do a go ahead touchdown, how hard is it to get the two-point conversion in general in college football. Seems like that play is tough. Do you discuss having a specific play that you can have --
    MEYER: Every week, usually have two or three in your pocket. We got moved back on a delay game. That's another issue. All that chaos going on during the game and we've got to practice that. And that was the game winning touchdown. We have to get organized, get them on the field and go. I don't know the percentage. It used to be about 50 percent. That you've got to make a two point play. But we have to work on that.

    Really happy for him. Those are two guys in my coaching career who are my favorite people for coaches.

    Q. Last week you talked about the linebackers, performing at their best, was there a message this week to them or about them?
    MEYER: Play better and let's get them in position to be successful.

    Q. Also, when you're playing a game on the road against Penn State or an opponent that you recruit against, how aware are you of players that are visiting that weekend?
    A. Mark Antonio director of recruiting is really -- it's all about punting and third downs and all that.

    Q. (No microphone. ) Does that continue being a concern for you?

    MEYER: Yes, it is, we haven't made a final decision. We have three capables. This is going to be a big week in practice to determine what happens.

    Q. Will you have conversations with Greg, how often does that spot come up, are there common issues that you guys have seen?

    MEYER: Yes, when one breaks you've got to get him down. We've had a history of getting guys down. It's not been perfect all the time. We're a very aggressive coverage team. And there's been examples, those are things we're working on.

    Q. When you approach wide receivers about what it takes to play, and you broach the idea of blocking, what is the conversation? What is it that you express to them? When do they usually get it?

    MEYER: Well, depends on the individual. Usually Mike Thomas it took a while. There's a right of passage, and usually four months special teams before you catch a pass.

    Ben Victor is starting on kickoff return now. He never did that before. He's playing -- it was brought to my attention, I shared that with our team yesterday, this all triggered when he started four months on special teams, he had a sense of value, a sense of respect. That whole thing about respect. You've got to earn it. You're going to go block, and be on special teams, and then good things happen.

    Q. When in your background, did you come to that conclusion, that you're going to be a wide receiver, you're going to play for me. What was it that spurred that kind of thinking?

    MEYER: I think Ohio roots. The toughness, the part that's never been changed when you run a screen, by the way, on the last touchdown you block three people. KJ did a really good job. He handled the ball and high stepped it into the end zone, with all due respect to KJ, that's fine, but that's just about part of the DNA.

    Q. When you look at Indiana, what jumped out at you from a defensive standpoint?

    MEYER: They played very well. Their scheme is outstanding, I think they're very well coached. And they have answers for everything. That's -- we're just knee deep in it now, that's fine, initial reaction.

    Q. Do you expect teams to attack your defense on the edge? They came out last year. Do you expect that to continue?

    MEYER: Depends on the quarterback. They have a guy that's a dual in Ramsey, he's a gutsy player, man, and he's one of those guys that creates something out of nothing. Depends on what you're facing. Last year's quarterback that they started, he was dropping seeds on people. This has the other element.

    Q. Did you review the targeting calls on Isaiah, and what is your take away?

    MEYER: We turned it in, and came back and first of all, you can't appeal it. I didn't know that. You can't appeal it. I watched -- someone showed me on the phone. I understand it. Do I agree with it? I don't have time to argue with it. The call was made. Once again you talk about safety in players. We're all in here. There's no intent. There is no targeting, and we had a couple of those around here where the guys going to try to wipe them out, if you watch him he's going for the ball and contact was made. No time to argue.

    Q. As a coach in a moment when you guys do a go ahead touchdown, how hard is it to get the two point conversion in general in college football. Seems like that play is tough. Do you discuss having a specific play that you can have --

    MEYER: Every week, usually have two or three in your pocket. We got moved back on a delay game. That's another issue. All that chaos going on during the game and we've got to practice that. And that was the game winning touchdown. We have to get organized, get them on the field and go. I don't know the percentage. It used to be about 50 percent. That you've got to make a two point play. But we have to work on that.

    - Ryan Isley is a freelancer from Akron.


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    Who we're watching when Ohio State plays Indiana on Saturday in Ohio Stadium. Watch video

    COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ohio State will have a new starting safety opposite Jordan Fuller when Indiana comes to Ohio Stadium this Saturday. 

    That's not a personnel decision by the coaches heading into the sixth game of the season. They're forced to make a change. Isaiah Pryor, who's started every game at safety next to Fuller, was ejected for targeting in the fourth quarter of last Saturday's game against Penn State.

    Because his ejection came in the second half against the Nittany Lions, Pryor has to sit out the first half against the Hoosiers.

    When Pryor left, Jashen Wint, who's been rotating through that spot some, came in and finished out the game. Will he start against Indiana? Or will Pryor's absence open the door for Greg Schiano and Alex Grinch to explore other options -- perhaps corner Shaun Wade -- at safety?

    This is Buckeye Watch, our weekly look at a particular player or position coming off one game and looking ahead to another. I'm focused on that safety spot. Doug Lesmerises is thinking about Ohio State's offensive line.

    Watch the video above to hear us discuss why, and let us know which player or position you're watching closely when the Buckeyes play Indiana. Kickoff against the Hoosiers will be at 4 p.m. on Fox.


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    Liddell, the No. 48 player in the country, became the third member of Ohio State's 2019 recruiting class on Monday night.

    COLUMBUS, Ohio -- EJ Liddell has always wanted to be a Buckeye.

    Perhaps that will sound less cliche when you hear that Liddell grew up dreaming of playing football for Ohio State. A self-described "young fat kid," Liddell was an offensive linemen who grew into a receiver before giving up football completely as a high school freshman.

    He switched sports and ended up at Ohio State anyway.

    Liddell committed to the Buckeyes basketball program on Monday, becoming the third member of a three-man 2019 banner class for head coach Chris Holtmann that currently ranks No. 4 in the country, and first in the Big Ten. He joins a class that features five-star point guard DJ Carton and four-star forward Alonzo Gaffney. All three are top-50 national prospects in the 247Sports composite ratings.

    "I chose Ohio State because those guys are winners, and I thought I was gonna come in and win," Liddell, a four-star forward, told cleveland.com on Monday night.

    "I believe playing with those guys, we can come in and win, and have a big season."

    Liddell chose OSU over Illinois and Missouri, the latter two receiving his final official visits.

    That left Ohio State far from a sure thing despite the Buckeyes being a trendy pick throughout much of Liddell's recruitment. Two potential road blocks stood out. One was getting Liddell to leave his home of Belleville, Illinois, on the border with Missouri and across the Mississippi River from St. Louis. Either Mizzou or Illinois would have been a comfortable distance.

    The second potential hurdle was showing how Liddell can play with Gaffney, himself a forward who could potentially play in the post or on the wing.

    To get over that, Holtmann and his staff showed Liddell a video cut up of him and Gaffney, of Keita Bates-Diop and Jae'Sean Tate, and of how the staff used forwards Andrew Chrabascz and Kelan Martin playing together at Butler. The positions Bates-Diop was put in last season, which led to him winning Big Ten Player of the Year, stuck out in particular.

    "I feel like I'm more of a three guy, but I post up because I have mismatches a lot," Liddell said. "So I can shoot, dribble, I feel like my passing is underrated. I think I'm a good passer. I really get on the rebounds, and I can guard anybody on the court."

    Gaffney is 6-foot-9, Liddell 6-foot-7. Together they help Ohio State fill a bit of a void that exists on the current roster.

    Holtmann talked last week about a limited ability to play more versatile lineups capable of switching and taking advantage of mismatches because Tate and Bates-Diop aren't on the team anymore. The next version of them is coming next year in Liddell and Gaffney. Nice to pair that with a five-star point guard in Carton.

    It's a foundational class for Holtmann, one that will create excitement and anticipation, and be met with high expectations when paired with a solid 2018 recruiting class to form a deep roster in 2019-20.

    Liddell was the missing piece to that.

    "He's a matchup nightmare," Joe Muniz, Liddell's coach at Belleville West High School told cleveland.com. "Teams that switch on him put a bigger guy on him, he can take them outside, they put a smaller guy on him and he takes them inside. He's got a toughness about him that is second to none. I've always said this about him, the bigger the stage the better he plays. And there's no stage too big for him."

    Last year's Illinois Mr. Basketball, Liddell averaged 20.8 points, 8.2 rebounds, 2.8 assists per game while leading Belleville West to a state title.

    Muniz talked about that title game on Monday night, saying that during one stretch Liddell blocked three shots in a row before being corrected by Liddell, who reminded his coach it was four. Four of the 200 blocked shots he had as a junior.

    "His ability to time and block shots is something I've never seen before," Muniz said.

    That's another missing skill set on the Ohio State roster.

    Liddell's recruitment with OSU moved fast, less than a year from the offer last January to his commitment on Monday night. Missouri and head coach Cuonzo Martin, himself a native of the same area as Liddell, offered long before that.

    Those two had a connection that Liddell didn't have with Holtmann and assistant coach Ryan Pedon when Ohio State really started pursuing him. But Roosevelt Jones, also from the East St. Louis area and a forward at Butler who played for Holtmann and Pedon, played a part in Liddell trusting the Ohio State coaches.

    "He tells me how honest of a guy (Holtmann) is, and how he's been in his life after basketball," Liddell said. "I've been getting to know them since January, and I feel like they're truly honest guys ... (Holtmann) came in, changed it, took them to the tournament and got Big Ten Coach of the Year. He just changed the culture."

    Liddell has now completed a class that could change the future.


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    When Corey Kluber starts against Houston on Friday night in Game 1 of the ALDS, he will not be seeking redemption from last year. He'll just be trying to give the Indians a chance to win.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio - Manager Terry Francona has said Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco will start Games 1 and 2 of the ALDS which begins Friday at Minute Maid Park.

    Houston manager A.J. Hinch told reporters that he's going to wait to announce his pitching plans until Tuesday, but it's safe to speculate that Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole will start the first two games for the Astros.

    Those four pitchers have had fine seasons, but out of the four it would seem Kluber would have the most to prove. Verlander won his World Series last year after the Tigers traded him Houston. Last year at this time Cole had just finished going 12-12 for the Pirates. This is Carrasco's seventh season with the Indians, but when he starts Saturday in Game 2, it will be just his second postseason appearance.

    Kluber and the postseason know each other well. He went 4-1 with a 1.83 ERA in six postseason starts in 2016. Three of those starts, all on short rest, came in the World Series.

    Last year Kluber pitched well enough in the regular season to win his second Cy Young award in four years. In the ALDS against the Yankees, he made two starts and they both went sideways. The Indians managed to win Game 2 in 13 innings, but in Game 5, he allowed three runs in 3 2/3 innings as the Yankees won, 5-2, to eliminate the Indians.

    This year Kluber is once again a Cy Young contender. He won 20 games for the first time in his career and led the AL innings pitched, while recording more than 200 strikeouts for the fifth straight year.

    When the Indians were in Kansas City over the weekend, their last stop on their last regular season trip, Kluber was asked if he sees the approaching ALDS as a chance to make things right. A chance to fix what went wrong last October.

    "I don't want this to come off the wrong way," he said. "I think fans tend to dwell on things like that a little bit more than we do as players. When we were eliminated last year there was disappointment. Just like when we lost Game 7 of the World Series, there was disappointment.

    "But I think part of preparing yourself for the next year is putting that behind you and getting ready for the next spring training, the next season, the next postseason. Just kind of always having that mentality of looking forward. There is enough to worry about without having to make up for last year, however you want to word it."

    Personally, that's how Kluber handled his ALDS performance.

    Yes, he was disappointed, but not any more than the disappointment he felt when the Indians lost Game 7 of the World Series to the Cubs.

    "Obviously, the situation didn't turn out the way we would have liked it to," said Kluber. "Like I said it's no different than if you have a bad start during the season. The best way to cope with that it is to flush it. If you sit and dwell on it, those things kind of eat away at you and you start carrying weight around that makes trying to do things that are difficult even more difficult. Whether it's a pitcher pitching poorly or a hitter in a slump, guys who have experience push that aside and concentrate on the task you have for the day."

    Play ball: The Indians, who had an optional workout at Progressive Field on Monday, will have a full-scale practice Tuesday. It will include an intrasquad game.

    Outfielder Tyler Naquin, rehabbing from right hip surgery in Goodyear, Ariz., returned to Cleveland on Sunday and is scheduled to play in the game. Lonnie Chisenhall was also in Goodyear on a rehab assignment for a strained left calf, but manager Terry Francona said Chisenhall had been given permission to go home to North Carolina because of possible hurricane damage to his home.

    "Naquin will play in the game, so we can get a look at him," said Francona. "Lonnie had a choice of staying in Goodyear or going home with his family because they had some stuff going on with the hurricanes."

    As for Chisenhall's injury, Francona said, "He's actually doing OK. He's running the bases hitting and everything."

    Chisenhall will be a free agent after the World Series.

    In 2016, the Indians sent several players to Goodyear, including Ryan Merritt, during the postseason. The idea was to keep them sharp in case the Tribe advanced and they were needed as a roster addition.

    The Indians will not do that this year. They say the can accomplish what they need to get done at Progressive Field.

    Dynamic duo: Switch-hitters Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez finished the regular season with a combined 239 runs, 81 doubles, 77 homers and 198 RBI.

    "I don't think (we've seen the best) from Frankie and Josey," said Francona. "There might be more in there."

    Francona loves Lindor in the leadoff spot. He finished the year with 129 runs, tying Mookie Betts for the most in the big leagues.

    "When he plays with that energy like that, it's infectious for our whole team," said Francona. "We remind him of that all the time because so often, as he goes, we go. That's a good thing."


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    This season, with new personnel, Lue's altering the system once again.

    INDEPENDENCE, Ohio -- Kyle Korver wanted to make something clear when asked about the Cleveland Cavaliers' new offensive approach, one necessitated by the loss of LeBron James this summer and Kyrie Irving a year earlier.

    "Not that I hated it before," Korver said. "I like basketball. But I definitely like to move. That's a big part of my game and it always has been. Running around and trying to create offense with energy."

    Korver's clarification is wise. It's tough to nitpick a system that finished top 5 in offensive efficiency four straight years. No matter how the Cavaliers went about it and as frustrating as it was from time to time, the system yielded the desired results.

    With a floundering defense, the Cavs demanded excellence on the other end. That's why during the three years with James, Irving and Kevin Love, the Cavs rightly leaned heavily on the trio and everyone else filled in around. The Big Three model was designed to put play terminators -- essentially shooters and spacers -- around play creators.

    The goal was simple: get James, Love and Irving the ball in situations where they could thrive.

    Sometimes the Cavaliers tried to exploit specific matchups and played to individual strengths, often relying on deadly isolation attacks, which also halted ball movement. In each of those years with the Big Three, the Cavaliers ranked top 5 in isolation frequency, topping the league in the category during the 2016-17 season.

    Last year, even without Irving, who has an isolation doctorate, the Cavaliers ranked third in ISO frequency. They scored on 42.1 percent of those trips, which was good for just 14th in the league.

    As Korver mentioned during the playoffs, the Cavaliers were built to let -- and help -- James be great.

    Lue and others inside the organization will admit the loss of Irving left them scrambling. There were new faces to incorporate and not all of them fit the unique LeBron-centric system. Injuries also wrecked the team's grand plan. But the mark of a champion is being able to adjust and find what's best for a specific roster setup. For the Cavs, the single-minded approach led to another Finals trip.

    This season, with new personnel, Lue's altering the system once again.

    "Just have to do it more by committee," Lue said. "Our bigs have to be an important piece, important part of understanding what we're trying to do offensively. I think Tristan (Thompson) and Larry (Nance Jr.) have been doing a good job with that at the center position. Of course, Kevin's going to be in the post a lot more, featuring him a lot more in the block. And then our guards just playing with pace, attacking the basket. Whoever rebounds the basketball is pushing it out so our guys are getting used to running the floor. We've got a lot of guys who can rebound the basketball and push it. That will be the biggest change for our team."

    Lue has been preaching pace since he took over as head coach. Only it's more imperative this season, as the Cavs will need easy looks -- no longer having James to bail them out.

    "We're going to have to rely on each other a lot more this year, we don't have that guy we can just throw the ball to and he makes a lot of things happen like we had last year," George Hill said, "Knowing this year is going to be totally different, everyone has to have their hand in that jar and giving us help. It's going to take a collective effort."

    Love will be the centerpiece. If all goes according to plan, the Cavs will use every tool in his box. They will run offense from the elbow and the pinch-post -- areas the team neglected too often. He won't be hovering around the perimeter as much, trying to get back to his comfort zone of playing inside-out. 

    The expectation is more screening and slashing away from the ball. There's supposed to be plenty of motion. No longer will one player initiate a bulk of the offense.

    Love, Hill, Collin Sexton, JR Smith, Sam Dekker, David Nwaba, Rodney Hood, Cedi Osman, Jordan Clarkson and Nance have all talked about being utilized as playmakers.

    "Kind of like a five-man attack," Nance said. "Obviously, we are going to showcase Kev. That's our guy and that's who we are going to showcase early and often. But there's not a player that we can put on the floor this year that isn't a threat. You are going to see a whole lot of everybody."

    Players and coaches admit the offense is still a work in progress. There will be mistakes and early-season growing pains. It won't be easy to break bad habits. Building trust will take time. It will take hard work, dedication and attention to detail. 

    Many of the sets have three or four options, which is why making quick decisions will be vital. It's no longer about holding the ball and surveying the defense. If the first option isn't available, then quickly move on to the next. If that one isn't there, then swing it and keep searching for a great shot.

    "A lot of moving the ball. I think we're trying to take a little from how Boston plays, get everyone touching the ball, not so much isolations," Thompson said. "Just because of the dynamic of our team, I think we'll be better if everyone's sharing the ball, being all in attack mode."

    Channing Frye, a key member of the Cavaliers' bench the last few seasons, said Cleveland's new offense will resemble that of the old second units.

    "I think it's progressive for us," Frye said. "It's stuff that we have been working on, but you've got to know your personnel. I think with this personnel, to be honest, we have maybe one or two guys who are top of the mill one-on-one guys and the rest are just kind of figuring our way and we're a thousand times better with movement. In years past this is more stuff the second unit would do and it's worked pretty dang well for us.

    "It's going to be fun to watch. True basketball people are going to like the fact that we're using the corner, we're using the elbow, we're using the top of the key. It's not just a lot of one-on-one stuff, it's a lot of good actions, it's reads and it's going to be fun. We're going to have some lumps sometimes, but once you get over those lessons, we're going to be pretty dang good.

    Like Thompson, Frye pointed to Boston, the Cavaliers' opponent in lat year's Eastern Conference finals and the favorite to rise to the top this season.

    He also mentioned Denver, Utah and Philadelphia. And while no one is ready to start comparing the Cavs to those teams -- all on a different level -- that's the path the Cavs are trying to take on offense nowadays, making it more about the sum of the parts.

    "I think bringing in new personnel, bringing in young energy, coaching staff has been great, so much teaching and you can tell they put a lot of time into how they can make this team into the best we can be," Korver said. "Got a lot of new thoughts and taking some of our old stuff and tweaking it. Some of it is we have a bunch of actions that we want to try to get really good at. Been a lot of learning, teaching, a lot of movement and it's really fun basketball."

    According to NBA.com stats, 66.3 percent of Korver's shot attempts were considered open (the defender 2-4 feet away) or wide open (the defender 4-6 feet away) during the 2017-18 season. The year before, the number was 65.8 percent.

    Will those numbers come down without James creating? Will the motion-based attack help Cleveland survive after that loss?

    Those questions can't be answered yet. The new offense needs to translate to the court during the regular season. But Korver's excited about the potential.

    "He loves all the movement and running around," Lue said. "He's in heaven right now."

    It sounds like he's not the only one.


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    Doug Lesmerises with a quick hit on the OSU WR who made the game-changing play against Penn State. Watch video

    COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ben Victor showed everyone what he could do with his game-changing catch against Penn State on Saturday, after showing his coaches and teammates in practice what he could be with the best stretch of play in his OSU career.

    The third-year receiver caught four passes for 64 yards as a freshman in 2016 and 23 passes for 349 yards as a sophomore in 2017. He now has seven catches for 126 yards this season, which ties him for sixth in receptions among the Buckeyes.

    Victor was great in the moment in the OSU game of the year. But why, exactly, do I think he's so potentially important to this offense?

    Check out my answer in our latest quick-hit BuckWhys video.


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    Hue Jackson has lost two more games by three points this season. That makes his record 1-9-1 in games decided by three or fewer points since he became head coach of the Cleveland Browns.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- The Browns are so frustrating.

    That's because Hue Jackson is correct when he says: "We all know we are right there."

    The Browns head coach meant so close to winning.

    "This team feels different," insisted Jackson.

    He meant different from the 1-31 record of the previous two seasons.

    He meant different from Browns teams that would fall behind, then completely fall apart.

    But at the quarter-pole of the 16-game NFL season, the Browns are 1-2-1.

    Some fans believe they could be 4-0...or 3-1...or 2-1-1.

    But they have one victory in the first four games following Monday's 45-42 overtime loss in Oakland. 

    Jackson has lost two more games by three points.

    His record is 1-10-1 in games decided by three or fewer points since taking over the Browns.

    Some of the issues are with coaching. Special teams are a disaster.

    I don't know how much of it is the fault of Amos Jones.

    I do know Jones had the bottom 20 percent special teams when he was in Arizona from 2013-17.

    I also know Jackson fired Chris Tabor (who also struggled running the Browns special teams) and hired Jones.

    I'm not going to detail all the special teams mistakes. You are watching the games.

    Analytics sites Profootballfocus and Football Outsiders rate the Browns as having the worst special teams in the NFL. That matches the eye test.

    Jackson is talking about the need to "finish" strong and win close games.

    Even average special teams will help that cause.

    Poor ones set up what Browns fans are watching now, little mistakes leading to big problems in tight games.

    WHAT DOES HE MEAN?

    At his Monday press conference I like how Jackson refused to blame the officials for the loss.

    Dwelling on that serves no purpose, other than giving the players and coaches a reason not to look more deeply at their own performances.

    "I take responsibility for it all," Jackson said. "We have to coach better."

    But then Jackson said something that seemed a bit odd.

    "Like I tell everybody, I'm really responsible for the process," he explained. "The players, they have to start being responsible for the outcome."

    My guess is Jackson is not blaming the players for losing close games, but that comment can lead his critics to imply just that.

    Players have to deliver clutch performances on the field to win close games.

    But the coaches have to do better than an end-around short pass on a sweep to Antonio Callaway.

    It was third-and-goal at the 1-yard line.

    Offensive Coordinator Todd Haley called the strange play to Callaway, and the rookie receiver was tackled for a 6-yard loss.

    That "process" left a lot to be desired.

    The same with Nick Chubb having only three carries despite having TD runs of 63 and 41 yards.

    DEFENSIVE COLLAPSE

    Jackson correctly said three Browns turnovers led to 21 points for Oakland.

    Baker Mayfield had a pass picked off and run back for a TD. Part of the problem was Callaway slipped and perhaps ran the wrong way on that pattern.

    No matter. Seven points for the Raiders.

    Mayfield lost fumbles on the Cleveland 20 and 7 yard lines.

    Oakland turned both of those into TDs.

    The defense was put in an awful spot. But how about stopping the Raiders after one of those fumbles and forcing them to kick a field goal? A good defense can do that.

    Near the end of the fourth quarter, Oakland went 53 yards with ZERO timeouts to score a TD. Then the Raiders connected on a 2-point conversion to tie the game at 42-42.

    That's on the defense. Even stopping the 2-point conversion wins the game.

    The Browns defense picked off two more passes. But it also allowed 565 yards! It was their worst game of the season.

    So many receivers were so wide open. Some of it had to be defensive schemes of Coordinator Gregg Williams.

    More problems with the process.

    THE BOTTOM LINE

    A lot went wrong.

    Baker Mayfield made some rookie mistakes. Jackson said Browns receivers dropped nine passes. That's right NINE!

    Profootball focus said the Browns dropped six: Callaway (2) and one each for David Njoku, Jarvis Landry, Duke Johnson and Rashard Higgins.

    After the game, Landry said he had two drops.

    But the Browns offense found a way to score 42 points. That's the most since 2007.

    You score 42 points, you should win.

    They had a 14-point lead in the middle of the third quarter. They had a 42-34 lead with 4:20 left in regulation.

    And they still lost.

    Call it process. Call it outcome.

    The bottom line is this was yet another game the Browns could easily have won -- but failed to do so.



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    If the Ohio State coach is still a little uncomfortable with a quarterback like Dwayne Haskins, that's great. That means the Buckeyes are doing it right. Watch video

    COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Of course it's not his preference.

    Urban Meyer likes a running quarterback. Admitting that is only acknowledging the obvious. Playing Dwayne Haskins and using him the way the Buckeyes have so far is doing the same - admitting the obvious.

    Look at Meyer's Ohio State quarterbacks in his seven seasons and their rushing totals through five games.

    * 2012, 90 carries, 577 yards (Braxton Miller)

    * 2013, 65 carries, 351 yards (Miller, Kenny Guiton)

    * 2014, 71 carries, 276 yards (J.T. Barrett)

    * 2015, 46 carries, 193 yards (Cardale Jones, Barrett)

    * 2016, 70 carries, 342 yards (Barrett)

    * 2017, 52 carries, 252 yards (Barrett)

    * 2018, 14 carries, 36 yards (Dwayne Haskins)

    What's that mean?

    It means that Ohio State's three-time national championship coach is going against his nature in the name of what's best for his talented quarterback and his playoff-worthy team.

    If Meyer slightly cringed through my question about this at his Monday news conference, or if you thought I was trying to put Meyer on the spot about this, that wasn't the intention. 

    The intention was to get Meyer to admit what all of us have been talking about, and to show how even a veteran coach with locked-in tendencies should and can change when the player in front of him needs to go about it a different way.

    Through his first six seasons, Meyer's primary quarterbacks averaged 66 carries through the first five games of the season. Haskins has run it 14 times. 

    That's not a problem. That's progress.

    You take a player's talents and you put him in position succeed, you don't force him into what you've aways done as a coach. Ohio State's plan for Haskins in the Meyer offense is that idea in action.

    "This is exactly that," Meyer said. "We're throwing for 340 (yards) a game, something like that, and we're winning games. We're taking care of the football, and throwing the ball and utilizing some very good players. And he's a very good player."

    On that point, I couldn't agree more. I'm sure most fans feel the same.

    Ohio State is averaging 347 passing yards per game, which ranks eighth in the nation.

    Haskins himself is throwing for 293 yards per game, which ranks 16th. His 70.8 completion percentage is ninth. His 19 passing touchdowns rank second.

    The Buckeyes are 5-0 and ranked No. 3 in the nation. There's no arguing with the result.

    But it's fascinating to watch the process. Meyer, truly, still isn't 100 percent comfortable without a running quarterback.

    "That's a good question," Meyer said Monday, almost visibly squirming at the podium, as you can see in the video above.

    Honestly, it wasn't a great question. Because everyone knows the answer is yes. Saying that isn't a slight to Haskins or a wish for a different quarterback. 

    Because Meyer's discomfort is THE WHOLE POINT.

    To beat Alabama and Georgia and the best teams in the nation, it may take a quarterback with Haskins' elite throwing abilities. There has been some idea that the best way to attack a Nick Saban defense is with a quarterback who can run and who is a threat to make something happen on broken plays.

    But almost all teams have a dual-threat quarterback now. Even Michigan's quarterback runs more than Ohio State's quarterback this season. Shea Patterson has carried it 21 times for 21 yards.

    What Haskins offers, with his accuracy and arm strength and command in the pocket, is suddenly rare in the college game.

    What Haskins offers goes against most of what Meyer has done in his career.

    What Haskins offers is exactly why Ohio State could win it all.

    That's true even if Meyer is a little lost without that QB draw on third down - for now.

    "It's a comfort zone like that short yardage that I've been used to," Meyer said. "People say, 'Are you going to run the quarterback again?' but usually we see the official do this."

    And then Meyer made the sign for a first down. And oh, you could tell he still loves that idea.

    But that isn't the current reality.

    "So that's our philosophy, who's the best quarterback? Dwayne Haskins is playing his you know what off," Meyer said. "Keep doing it. One thing, I'm also comfortable seeing the screens come out of his hands so fast. Seeing him with pinpoint accuracy."

    All good. The third-and-short? They're working on that. And that isn't on Haskins. That's on Meyer and the staff to figure out, just like they've figured out so much of what has worked with Haskins.

    "There's certain times of the game I'm used to having something in my pocket that it's not there," Meyer said of that missing QB run. "We had two situations Saturday that we haven't figured that out.

    "So those are all questions that we have."

    But Haskins is absolutely an answer, not a question, and Ohio State knows it.

    Think Meyer's uncomfortable? Good.

    Think opposing defenses are uncomfortable? Even better.


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    Dwayne Haskins is on pace to break Ohio State passing records now held by Troy Smith, J.T. Barrett and Joe Germaine.

    COLUMBUS, Ohio - Dwayne Haskins, five games into his first year as the Ohio State starting quarterback, is on pace to break every major single-season school  passing record.

    Here's our weekly update:

    Passer rating: J.T. Barrett holds the school record with a 169.8 rating in 2014; Haskins' rating is 188.8.

    Completion percentage: Troy Smith holds the record of 65.3 percent (203 of 311) in 2006; Haskins is completing 70.8 percent (109 of 154).

    Touchdown passes: Barrett holds the record with 35 TD passes in 2017; Haskins has 19 TD passes through five games, with eight to 10 games to go.

    Passing yards per game: Joe Germaine holds the record with 277.5 yards per game in 1998; Haskins is averaging 292.8 yards per game.

    Passing yards: Germaine holds the record of 3,330 yards, set in 1998; Haskins is on pace for 3,806 yards if he plays in 13 games, 4,099 over a potential 14-game season and 4,392 yards over a potential 15-game season.

    Scroll over the lines on the graphics below for more details and comparison to the top four passing seasons. This will be updated weekly.


    Some mobile users may need to use this link instead.

    Rich Exner, data analysis editor for cleveland.com, writes about numbers on a variety of topics. Follow on Twitter @RichExner.

    OSU starting QBs and hometowns, since 1968


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    Chris Livingston is a nationally ranked high school basketball player entering his freshman season at Akron Buchtel. He is considered the No. 2 player in the country for the 2022 recruiting class by Future150.com, behind only 6-7 forward Emoni Bates of Ypisilanti, Mich. Watch video

    CANTON, Ohio -- The 17- and 18-year-olds took notice of the 6-foot-5 freshman running up and down the court Saturday with them at Walsh University.

    Chris Livingston is considered a phenom by some, a nationally ranked high school basketball player entering his freshman season at Buchtel. He is considered the No. 2 player in the country for the 2022 recruiting class by Future150.com, behind only 6-7 forward Emoni Bates of Ypisilanti, Mich.

    Ohio State already offered Livingston a scholarship in mid-August.

    "Chris is going to be a real big problem," Richmond Heights senior guard Curtis Houston said. "We've got some real good guys in there, and him being in the ninth grade, that shows he's going to do something."

    Added Cleveland Central Catholic junior Tevin Jackson, "It's hard to guard a guy like that. He can shoot it and drive to the hole and dunk on you"

    Livingston and his brother Cordell, a 5-10 freshman point guard, participated Saturday at the NEO Spotlight Super 60 showcase and combine. The event is a scouting opportunity for college coaches at Division II schools and smaller.

    So why go?

    Livingston said he just wants to get better, and playing against older players is one way to do so. Him and his brother have been doing it since they were 5, they said, but the anticipation picks up now that they are in high school. Livingston also took part Saturday in combine activities, which included a 31-inch vertical jump by the 14-year-old. 

    Even LeBron James made a point to see Livingston this summer in Las Vegas for an AAU tournament. Get a glimpse for yourself, and hear from him, in the above video.

    Contact sports reporter Matt Goul on Twitter (@mgoul) or email (mgoul@cleveland.com). Or log in and leave a message below in the comments section.


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    One of Ohio State's 2019 targets committed to Penn State, and the Buckeyes offered a Michigan State commit.

    COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Urban Meyer's return to the Ohio State sideline two weeks ago against Tulane made for a surprisingly good recruiting weekend for the Buckeyes, especially given the opponent.

    One of those visitors was four-star 2019 tight end Brenton Strange, who made an unexpected return trip to Columbus. That signaled that things weren't dead between the Buckeyes and Strange, and that Ohio State was serious about taking two tight ends in its 2019 class.

    Well, if OSU still wants two tight ends now, it will have to look elsewhere.

    Strange on Monday committed to Penn State, following his official visit to Happy Valley for Ohio State's 27-26 win over the Nittany Lions last Saturday. The Parkersburg, West Virginia product is the No. 16 tight end in the country.

    Strange was reportedly considering an official visit to Ohio State later this season.

    With his commitment, Penn State now has the No. 12 class in the country and the No. 3 class in the Big Ten. That's one spot behind Ohio State in both rankings.

    The Buckeyes already hold one tight end commitment in the 2019 class from three-star prospect Cormontae Hamilton.

    Offensive line moves

    Ohio State is still in the market for a couple of offensive linemen in this 2019 class to add to the group it already has in five-star center Harry Miller, four-star guard Doug Nester and four-star tackle Ryan Jacoby.

    On Tuesday the Buckeyes offered a Northeast Ohio product, three-star guard J.D. Duplain from Strongsville. Duplain has been committed to Michigan State since Aug. 1. He's the No. 39 player in Ohio.

    On Monday Ohio State offered Ole Miss commit Nick Broeker. The three-star tackle from Springfield, Illinois has been committed to the Rebels since June 14.

    Add both of those names to the list of offensive line options for Ohio State as it looks to round out this class. The others on that list are five-star tackle Darnell Wright, four-star tackle Trevor Keegan and three-star tackle Jonathan Allen.

    Ohio State has four senior offensive linemen on the roster this year, plus another in Michael Jordan who will be draft-eligible after this season. Junior Branden Bowen is trying to make a return from a broken leg last season that required another surgery this season. So it seems the Buckeyes could take up to five offensive linemen this year if the pieces fall into place.


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    Major League Baseball has confirmed the start times for games 1 and 2 of the American League Division Series.

    CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Major League Baseball on Tuesday announced the start times for games 1 and 2 of the American League Division Series between the Cleveland Indians and Houston Astros.

    Game 1 will take place Friday at 2:05 p.m. and Game 2 will start at 4:37 p.m. both at Minute Maid Park in Houston, according to MLB officials. Both games will be televised on TBS.

    No start time was made available for Game 3 on Monday, May 8 when the series shifts to Progressive Field in Cleveland.

    Fri., Oct. 5: ALDS, Game 1 @ Houston, 2:05 p.m.

    Sat., Oct. 6: ALDS, Game 2 @ Houston, 4:37 p.m.

    Mon., Oct. 8: ALDS B, Game 3 @ Cleveland , TBA

    Tue., Oct. 9: ALDS B, Game 4* @ Cleveland, TBA

    Thu., Oct. 11: ALDS B, Game 5* @ Houston, TBA

    *if necessary


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