New York Giants: The Simple Key To Beating The Jaguars

The key to the game in week one isn’t complicated. It’s not based on complex schemes, never-before-seen blitzes, or on one specific moment in the game that will swing things one way or the other. Rather, it’s something that’s been known for ages: the team that wins in the trenches tends to win the game outright.

That’s true in any game, but it matters more against a team that reached the playoffs last year partly because of their strength on the offensive line. They were nicknamed Sacksonville last year for a good reason, and they were the second best defense in the league in terms of total yards allowed. Only the Minnesota Vikings, who also reached the Conference Championship stage of the playoffs, were better.

A big part of that defense is the front seven, and it will be one of the most important matchups when the New York Giants take on the Jacksonville Jaguars to open up the regular season. Another notable stat is that the Jags defense is the third ever in NFL history to have two different 10 sack games in the same season.

On the other side, there’s a Giants offensive line that has a total of zero regular season games together. The changes on the offensive line are a good thing, of course, but it usually takes a group of players some time to get used to playing together. The preseason isn’t the same intense environment as the regular season, so the week one game against Jacksonville will be our first time seeing the new O-line in action during a high pressure situation.

Ereck Flowers is the only starter from last season that’s coming back, and of course, the pressure will definitely be on Nate Solder as the most expensive tackle in recent memory. This Jags defensive line, on the other hand, has a few experienced stars that already have some good chemistry playing together. Calais Campbell is the most obvious example, but their entire front should be one of the tougher ones in the NFL.

The addition of Marcell Dareus doesn’t make things any easier for the interior of the offensive line. But dealing with that threat is also going to be one of the major things that wins the game for the Giants, if they can pull it off and begin the season 1-0.

Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shepard? They can’t catch the ball if Eli Manning doesn’t have any time to drop back and throw an accurate pass. Saquon Barkley? Well, he can’t get downfield for a big run if the offensive line can’t open up any gaps for him.

The Giants offensive talent is improved this year, and the team definitely has the capability to score more points than they did during the disastrous season of 2017. But it all starts with the offensive line, and in the opening game of the season, they face one of the more challenging defenses in the entire league. Finding a way to succeed in spite of that may be the key to the game.

Penn State Football: What To Watch For During The Pitt Game

Going into the second week of college football, Penn State versus Pittsburgh might just be the most interesting matchup featuring a Big Ten team. It’s debatable, with Colorado versus Nebraska taking place earlier in the day, but the Keystone Classic is the game that features one of the top teams in the nation.

And in a rivalry environment on the road, a surprising result isn’t out of the question. Especially after Penn State’s lackluster start to the reason, a game that will surely give motivation to Pitt after watching their rivals stumble and nearly fall.

What should be expected from this game?

Pittsburgh rolled over Albany to open up their season, allowing only seven points and shutting out the Great Danes once the first quarter was over. They actually managed to run back the opening kick for a touchdown, which could sum up how the game went in general.

Maurice French, who scored the touchdown on the return, ended up adding to the lead with his second non-receiving touchdown of the day. The score came on an end around run, despite French’ being a receiver. It just goes to show that the Penn State team will need to work on their tackling going into this game, because Pitt has more weapons than Appalachian State did and the margin for error is much lower.

If there’s one player in that receiving corps that Penn State fans should be aware of, it’s Rafael Araujo-Lopes. For a player with only three catches, his stat line was very good. 50 yards overall, and two of those three catches were touchdowns. The number matches his total number of touchdowns from last year, showing that he’ll play a large role as a senior.

Pitt is starting an inexperienced quarterback who only played in four games last season, but that inexperience didn’t really show in the result against Albany. Kenny Pickett threw for 16 completions and a great 72.7 completion percentage, with two touchdowns to one interception.

Safety Nick Scott and linebacker Cameron Brown both had sacks in the Appalachian State game, but a stronger and more consistent performance from the defensive line would work wonders in helping Penn State to avoid another scare. One area where Penn State should have an advantage, however, is the running game.

No back finished with more than 100 yards, but the Penn State running backs were good when they needed to be. Miles Sanders had two touchdowns, while Ricky Slade scored in his very first game as a college player and had an average of 6.8 yards per carry with a small sample size. Will Slade get more carries against Pitt?

It wouldn’t be an unwise move from the Penn State staff. While passing ultimately won the game for PSU, it wasn’t consistent and had a sluggish start. Watch for the Nittany Lions to try establishing the run, to avoid putting too much pressure on quarterback Trace McSorley to carry the offense in the absence of NFL draftee Saquon Barkley.

Finally, it’s important to remember that the game is in Pittsburgh, and that the atmosphere will be more intense than a normal nonconference game. Penn State might be favored by just about everybody, but in a game like this, the unexpected always seems to happen at some point.

If you have any doubts that Pitt will be playing this game differently, head coach Pat Narduzzi summed it up himself.

“Anyone who wants to argue and say this is no different than any other week, it is. That’s a fact. If you want to ignore that, you can ignore it, but it’s a big game… I think our kids will be excited. They got a great football team. They’re talented, they have great players, and they have a great program, so we’re looking forward to having them come to Heinz Field again.”

New York Giants Rookie Set To Start At OLB – Will He Succeed?

The New York Giants have several players on the injury bubble going into week 1 of the 2018 regular season. Olivier Vernon has been the most talked about name on the injury-report, as he struggles to come back from a practice induced high-ankle sprain.

Despite reports that Vernon was feeling better and could play on Sunday, it’s thought that he will, in fact, not be active for the home opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

What does this mean for the New York Giants at OLB?

Vernon made the transition to outside linebacker after playing defensive end in Steve Spagnuolo’s 4-3 defense. The star pass-rusher was expected to make a significant impact on the defense in his first year in the 3-4 scheme. If he’s forced to miss time, rookie Lorenzo Carter will have to fill in for the time being.

Carter is a Georgia product, quick, fast, and strong. He’s a lanky pass-rusher with a dynamic style of play that will allow him to expose the edge. While Carter showed up on the injury-report on Thursday due to an illness, he’s still slated to start for the injured Vernon.

Take a look at this clip. You can see the rookie start from an exterior position – he proceeds to stab at the right tackle in an attempt to push him beyond the pocket. The most impressive part of this play is that Carter keeps his eyes on the quarterback. He immediately stops in his tracks and b-lines towards the inside of the pocket where the opposing quarterback has stepped into. A fine display of vision and anticipation.

While he’s far from competing on a first-team level against top-tier offensive lineman, he’s shown great developmental building blocks and impressive rookie attributes. We shouldn’t feel safe with him starting in Vernon’s place, but optimistic.

What Happened In The Big Ten On The First Saturday?

The first full weekend of college football is done, and teams from the Big Ten finally kicked off their seasons with some exciting matchups. Some of them were projected from the start to be great games. Others, like Penn State versus Appalachian State, were simply a case of an underdog turning up and not bowing down to the favorite. And then there were some games that were just strange, like the 108 point clash between Ohio State and Oregon State.

What were the biggest moments from the first Saturday?

Matt Canada starts off with a win as Maryland head coach

Maryland is not the team that most would have picked to pull off an upset. Especially not over a team that should have been at least somewhat wary, after losing to the Terrapins last year. But despite all the drama around the team’s coaching staff, and the fairly recent suspension of D.J. Durkin, the team pulled together and managed an upset win in honor of Jordan McNair.

It was a close game but it was one that Texas trailed most of the time. Maryland kept Texas from gaining the lead until the later part of the third quarter, and even then, they would take it back near the start of the fourth. Their quarterback situation was lamented going into the season, and yet Maryland starter Kasim Hill had a higher completion percentage and passer rating than Texas QB Sam Ehlinger. Additionally, Hill threw for no interceptions, while Ehlinger had two.

Despite the game being stopped for over an hour because of the weather, Maryland was able to hold the lead throughout most of the fourth quarter to secure the win. It’s a win that will greatly help the resume of Matt Canada, a figure that many have mixed opinions about after his failed stint at LSU. Now, however, he has a 1-0 record while acting as head coach.

Penn State beats Appalachian State, but not in the way they wanted

The Nittany Lions did what was expected of them and they dispatched their visiting opponents from Appalachian State, but just about nobody within the Penn State fanbase would like to repeat a performance like that anytime soon. It didn’t exactly make the team look good, after all.

Trace McSorley is one of the Heisman favorites this year, and Miles Sanders should be a good enough replacement for number two overall draft pick Trace McSorley, but none of Penn State’s stars really looked like themselves for this game and the offense was sluggish for much of it. The 45 point output doesn’t tell the actual story of the game, because Penn State only did as much as they needed and not even a tiny bit more.

They only managed ten points in the first half, after all. The third quarter went Penn State’s way, but allowing 28 points in the fourth quarter isn’t going to fly when playing against conference opposition, especially elite opponents like Michigan State and Ohio State. On the bright side, the team showed a good amount of resilience to take over during the OT period and put an end to the game.

But everyone, both fans of Penn State and fans of their rivals, know that it never should have reached that point. If the Nittany Lions want to keep their spot in the rankings, they’ll certainly have to avoid letting lower ranked opponents play up to their level as the Mountaineers did.

Michigan State gets past Utah State… Barely

Penn State isn’t the only highly ranked Big Ten team to have some trouble with a nonconference opponent that everyone overlooked. Michigan State was picked by Vegas as the second most likely team to win the Big Ten East, but they had a scare at the hands of Utah State regardless.

Like Penn State, the Spartans did enough to win the game but didn’t do enough to please their fans and critics, their pass defense failing to close out Utah State and quarterback Brian Lewerke throwing an interception that would be returned for a touchdown. The running backs didn’t have the best game either, with top back L.J. Scott finishing with less than 100 yards on 23 carries.

Furthermore, the winning run didn’t come until there were about two minutes left in the game. That kind of close margin just isn’t what any top team wants out of a nonconference game like this, and you can be sure the Spartans will make some tweaks going into their next game.

Will they have a better defensive performance over an Arizona State team that put up 49 points in their season opener? That’s a question that will loom large going into their west coast road trip this Saturday.

Knicks’ Enes Kanter Knows The Recipe To Sign Kevin Durant

While most would bet their money on Kevin Durant re-signing with the Golden State Warriors, it would be ignorant to not consider the potential for any other team to snag him in free agency. In this specific scenario, the New York Knicks would grab him, but how?

Knicks’ center Enes Kanter opened up on SiriusXM NBA Radio about the potential for Durant to come to the Big Apple, and how it could happen:

“It is New York. If you are with New York, you’re king of America and king of the world,” Kanter said…

“We are New York. He’s a free agent. We need to use that. We are the best city in the world. That could draw a lot of attention for free agents. I would love for him to be my teammate again. When he was my teammate he was an amazing teammate, amazing character, scorer and basketball player on court and off the court, too. I would love to see him be my teammate again.”

All the things Kanter states in his answer are correct. The appeal of New York is enticing, the money is available, and he would have familiar faces to rely on.

Coming to New York might be the decision that puts Durant in on a different level. He’s been criticized constantly for making the move to Golden State, a team full of All-Star players. Going to the Knicks would put him alongside youngsters in Kevin Knox and Mitchell Robinson, as well as Kristaps Porzingis. If he could bring a championship to NY he would be considered a legend for eternity.

EXTRA:

Even if the Knicks managed to bring on Durant, it would likely force them to let Kanter walk, who’s earning $18.6 million in 2018.