Free-agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick (left) and Denver Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall were college teammates. (Facebook/John Leyba/The Denver Post/Getty Images)It’s been four months since quarterback Colin Kaepernick opted out of his contract with the San Francisco 49ers and despite his stellar performance stats, he remains unsigned.Denver Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall is one of the latest NFL stars to sound off on Kaepernick’s continued free agency, which began following a season of the former University of Nevada-Reno star protesting the oppression of Black people in America by originally sitting, then, later, taking a knee during the national anthem.“Maybe the owners are scared of having that distraction on the team or maybe fans boycott the games or whatever case it may be,” Marshall said to Altitude Sports Network Tuesday, June 6. “Honestly, if everybody really sat and looked at the reasons why he did it, he didn’t hurt nobody.“They act like he hit his girlfriend or got a DUI or something like that,” Marshall said, conjuring thoughts of former Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Michael Floyd, who was arrested for a DUI in 2016 and later signed with the Minnesota Vikings. “It’s almost like they’re shunning him worse than they do the people that get arrested, and I think it’s ridiculous. …“Colin, he’s done so much for the community. He was named top 100 most influential person [by Time magazine]. I think, ‘Why wouldn’t you want that? That exhibits leadership.’”Kaepernick’s most notable accomplishments with the 49ers include leading the team to the Super Bowl in 2013 and throwing 16 touchdowns and only four interceptions with what Marshall called a “terrible team” in 2016.“I saw something where he had a 90 passer rating, higher than [Los Angeles Chargers QB] Philip Rivers and [New York Giants QB] Eli Manning,” Marshall said. “I see these stats and numbers, and you know they say numbers don’t lie, right?“So, I mean, what’s the real issue is the question.”Marshall’s teammate, tight end Virgil Green, believes Kaepernick choosing to exercise his First Amendment rights is the cause of his continued free agency. Kaepernick recently worked out for the Seattle Seahawks but ultimately wasn’t signed. There also were rumors that the Broncos, New York Jets and Cleveland Browns were considering him but nothing ever materialized.“Kap is a great quarterback,” Green told reporters Tuesday. “He is a smart quarterback. He is very competitive. It is kind of shocking that he is not on a team. But, at the same time, there are a lot of different opinions and viewpoints out there, and they don’t all agree with Kap.“It’s something that I think he has to deal with, but ultimately, I do think he should be a quarterback in the National Football League.”
Conventional NBA wisdom is based on a set of assumptions about how the game is played, and those, in turn, are based on what has worked best in the past. Don’t shoot 3-pointers off the dribble. Don’t throw 60-foot alley-oops. Don’t play JaVale McGee. Yet each time the Warriors add some new theatricality to their game, like the transition 3-pointer or the pull-up 3 or a propensity for 30-foot alley-oops to JaVale in traffic, they aren’t just stunting on the league; they’re exploiting its assumptions.There is a simple explanation for how that works: The Warriors have style. For all the systemic differences between the aspirant 2013-14 team led by Mark Jackson and the swashbuckling 2015 champions led by Steve Kerr, the most transformative was that Kerr’s Warriors have style and Jackson’s did not. And style endures. Even after bringing on Kevin Durant, the Warriors never acceded and played like a traditional powerhouse, grinding teams down with sheer force of talent. Instead, the team continued playing its chaotic brand of offense, with Stephen Curry just as likely to be setting off-ball screens to free up Ian Clark as he is to be working in a high pick-and-roll. The unanimous MVP just in your grasp, the undrafted journeyman springs free for a look. Setup and payoff. The coyote roller-skates off the cliff.The Warriors don’t merely seek out the best practices of the day — they create value where there’s not supposed to be any.The leading example of the Warriors turning audacity into efficiency is the team’s signature shot: the pull-up 3. When Curry began pulling up from the cheap seats a few short years ago, the reaction was first one of awe, and then one of appreciation: The shots were fearless, and few could make them as often as Curry, but they also worked because most defenses never dreamed that that was a shot anyone wanted. Only recently, as a wave of pull-up 3s has swept across the league, have we begun to appreciate how Curry’s trademark opens up the floor for the Warriors.But pull-ups are just one of several ways the Warriors have bucked orthodoxy to remake the league’s ideas about smart basketball. Seeking out free throws has been a hallmark of the modern analytic game for as long as Derrick Rose has been harangued for avoiding them. Yet the Warriors don’t shoot very many of them. They ranked just 20th in free throw rate during this regular season, and while they’ve drawn more fouls in the playoffs, their postseason rate was about average among the playoff field.Meanwhile, the team has moved away from the league’s most popular play, which powers hyper-modern offenses like the Rockets’ and the Raptors’: the pick-and-roll. Golden State was last in the league in percent of plays that finished in the hands of a pick-and-roll ball handler at about 11 percent,1 less than half the rate posted by league leaders Toronto and Charlotte, and last in the league in percent of plays used by a pick-and-roll roll man at 4 percent.2 The NBA is increasingly a pick-and-roll league, but the Warriors have gone in the opposite direction, even if they have their moments of doubt.“I definitely want to be in more pick-and-roll situations, whether I’m getting shots or whether we’re manufacturing ball movement,” Curry said a few days after the team’s Christmas Day loss to Cleveland. “That’s a strength of ours, regardless of how teams play us.”In some ways, eschewing the pick-and-roll is a luxury the Warriors enjoy because they have two MVP-level players in Curry and Kevin Durant on the roster. But passing up pick-and-roll opportunities also enables Golden State to be the best long-range 2-point shooting team in the league, thanks to that chaos-engine offense. The Warriors don’t take a ton of the shots — they ranked 20th in the regular season in attempting them3 — but ranked first in percentage, making 47 percent.It may seem natural that the best 3-point shooting team is also the best long-2 team, but the Warriors are also seeking these shots out. Math is supposed to warn against that.Golden State ranked in the top 10 of total spot-up 2-point attempts during the season, and the team was again far ahead of the pack in percentage on those shots, hitting more than 50 percent — 2 percentage points higher than the second-place team, and more than five points better than the San Antonio Spurs, who led in attempts. As a late-stage development in a possession, it’s almost cruel. Chase Curry and Durant and all the other Warriors shooters up and down the floor, around screens, and out far beyond the 3-point line — sell out to cover all the most valuable ground on the court as fast as you can — and a guy like David West might just pop out to 17 feet and kill you anyway. The painted tunnel only works for the roadrunner.That’s what the Warriors do: They don’t merely seek out the best practices of the day — they create value where there’s not supposed to be any. It’s their most endearing trait, the thing that makes them a thrill even as they threaten to dominate the league at a magnitude unseen since Bill Russell’s Celtics. Very often, their “inefficient” ideas are also the most fun. Thearon W. Henderson / Getty Images If the Warriors are light on Chuck Jones’s disciplines, they’re absolutely bankrupt when it comes to being disciplined. The one thing that’s plagued the team, in past seasons and in this one, has been turnovers. The Warriors have floated around the middle of the pack per possession, but they have a talent for slapstick turnovers at the worst possible times. Early on in his tenure, Kerr took to calling the team’s helter-skelter turnovers — the ones that flew into the second row, endangering the announcers’ table more than the opposing defense — “plays of insanity,” the implication being that Golden State could be even more dominant if it could snuff out these momentary lapses. When the Warriors dominated the Cavs in Game 1, players pointed to the team’s four turnovers as a sign that they took the series seriously. It’s not quite so simple, though.With the game on the line, we expect a team to resort to less obviously risky plays. Not Steph whipping no-looks on one play and JaVale McGee flying by with an ACME rocket strapped to his ass the next.Some Warriors turnovers are a function of carelessness. But others are more about the team’s identity since Kerr arrived, what the younger Jim Mora used to refer to as Michael Vick’s “athletic arrogance” — the belief that they are the best team in the world and capable of summoning any necessary magic to the court. Sometimes this backfires, as it did with Curry’s infamous behind-the-back turnover in the closing minutes of Game 7 last season.“Yeah, I still think about that,” Curry told ESPN’s Chris Haynes just before the Finals began. “In thinking about that game, it’s funny because I know the concept of making the right play, making a simple play, understanding that there are deciding moments in games and the difference between winning a championship or not could be one of those plays. I came out in preseason this year and threw a behind-the-back pass because I have confidence that I can do it and it won’t change that.”That confidence will lead to more turnovers. But it will also lead to some of the prettiest basketball the league’s ever seen, and you can trace the contagion from that Curry pass to Durant sauntering into a pull-up 3 to win Game 3.And it doesn’t just affect the stars: The Warriors ethos infused Andrew Bogut and Zaza Pachulia with the spirit of Vlade Divac and Brad Miller over the last three seasons, and even drew out latent passing skills from Marreese Speights and West. On the Warriors, veterans are empowered to throw surprising, stunting passes — passes that contribute to the team’s 2-point offense being so unguardable.4And that was the promise of this team! That when things tightened up, they were just as likely to throw the full-court alley-oop, or toss a behind-the-back bounce pass through traffic, or plant a shooter in front of Jeff Van Gundy and pull up from 40. It’s different from just about every other team we’ve seen. With the game on the line, we expect a team to resort to less obviously risky plays — brawny hero ball, or a calculating high screen and read that’s got more deltoid than fast twitch to it. Not this. Not Steph whipping no-looks on one play and JaVale McGee flying by with an ACME rocket strapped to his ass the next. Ben Margot / AP Chuck Jones, the classic Warner Bros. animator, used to say that we are all defined by our disciplines: When anything is possible, the things we don’t do are just as important as the things we do. Bugs Bunny does not act unless provoked; the roadrunner does not harm the coyote; the Houston Rockets do not shoot long 2s; and the New York Knicks do not catch the roadrunner. The Golden State Warriors do not have many disciplines to speak of. They’re basketball anarchists, unmoored from any concept of the “right” way to play as defined by crusty traditionalists or, importantly, the current generation of NBA nerds.For three seasons now, the Warriors have been the de facto champions of analytic basketball, the calculator boys whose success rests on mathematical principles. Other teams have gone to further extremes, but Golden State is unquestionably the flagship — as they’ll be the first to tell you. And in the afterglow of the team’s second title in three seasons, who’s to argue?But look a little closer and it’s apparent that the Warriors’ game doesn’t reflect the analytics it has come to represent. The Warriors aren’t math — they don’t represent order; they upend logic. They’re Bugs Bunny pulling himself out of the hat. The Warriors are the punchline. Marcio Jose Sanchez / AP The Warriors’ success raises questions about the new-school wisdom of the league. Is this a blueprint for future contenders or merely the imprint of a uniquely talented team? The answer might simply be that Golden State’s talent level is exceptional, that they can buck league trends because they aren’t like the rest of the league. And that’s partly true. They do this through individual excellence, yes, but that’s also the point: Golden State already had the talent the rest of the league craves, and now it’s using that talent in ways that other great teams haven’t. The fearlessness that Kerr allowed to flourish had taken root long before Durant came to town.So why not pull up from 40 feet, or throw 60-foot alley-oops, or play your small forward at center in the Finals just to see what happens? Why let the coyote get his defense set? It could be that there’s a steep minimum talent requirement to make playing like the Warriors effective, but there’s a steep talent requirement for anyone looking to win the NBA title.The Golden State Warriors are the team of the future — but that future may not be the one we thought it was.Read more: They Are Kevin Durant’s Warriors Now
Rangers149714801492+12-5 Nationals154615221524+2-22 Braves147415101519+9+45 The A’s meteoric riseMajor league teams by change in Elo from the preseason and the All-Star Game, as of Aug. 22 Mets149114641484+20-7 Rockies150315101519+9+16 Cubs155815681543-25-15 Athletics149015281551+23+61 Pirates148314831493+10+10 At midseason, the American League seemed decided. The number of tanking teams — some intentional efforts, some unintentional — combined with the AL’s super teams1The top four teams by run differential reside in the AL: the Red Sox, Astros, Yankees and Indians. were conspiring to strip the league of postseason races. The league’s playoff teams seemed all but set by the All-Star Game.But then the Oakland A’s came charging out of the baseball wilderness to give us some late-summer drama.After three consecutive last-place finishes, the Athletics began the year with a 16 percent probability of reaching the postseason and a 6 percent chance of winning the AL West. And just two months ago, they were as many as 11.5 games behind the reigning World Series champion Astros. But after winning 42 of their last 58 games entering Friday, the A’s have cut that deficit to 1.5 games, and they now have an 89 percent chance of advancing to the postseason and a 22 percent chance of winning the AL West.The surge is no fluke. Oakland has the game’s eighth-best run differential, at +94 runs, and has seen the greatest improvement in FiveThirtyEight’s team rating since the start of the season.2As of Aug. 22. Phillies149015071496-11+6 EloChange from … The Moneyball A’s didn’t prize defense, fly balls or ace relievers, but this club does. While the formula is different than in the early 2000s, what remains the same is that the A’s are finding value where other clubs are not.Check out our latest MLB predictions. Royals145914081407-1-52 Cardinals152215081540+32+18 Yankees156515891571-18+6 Astros157715991585-14+8 Diversifying their pitchesWhile the A’s have a dominant star in the bullpen, the story is different in the rotation. In the early 2000s, the A’s had a trio of front-line starters in Barry Zito, Mark Mulder and Tim Hudson. This year’s A’s team has a rotation populated predominantly by reclamation projects like Trevor Cahill, Brett Anderson, Mike Fiers and Edwin Jackson. Without a legit ace — or even a household name — the A’s rank second to the Red Sox in pitching WPA.Signed to a one-year, $1.5 million contract in the winter, Cahill has become one of the biggest bargains in baseball in part by reducing the use of his fastball and generating more swing and miss with his slider, more than doubling its usage. Cahill has a 3.44 ERA, and his 2.1 WAR according to FanGraphs is the second-best mark of his career.Cahill had once been heavily dependent upon his sinker, but he told FiveThirtyEight that the A’s have given him “weighted pitch” data, which he’s used to diversity his overall pitch mix. For the first time since 2012, he has four above-average pitches, according to FanGraphs linear weights.“If you can throw four different pitches, and they are doing different things in the zone, it’s tough [for batters] to guess,” Cahill said.The A’s also have pitch-tracking Rapsodo technology for use in between appearances, which Cahill uses to monitor his release point and the underlying characteristics of his pitches — like spin rate — between starts.“I go look at my curveball and see if the spin rate is higher,” Cahill said. “I look at where I am releasing it.” Padres145514461444-2-11 Reds146514841474-10+9 Diamondbacks152315231536+13+13 Marlins144314491439-10-4 Treinen also has a slider and cutter that baffle opponents. Tigers144914481441-7-8 Dodgers156815601553-7-15 Brewers151015191515-4+5 White Sox145714371441+4-16 Indians157615551566+11-10 Giants149415021490-12-4 So how did the A’s get here? This isn’t another “Moneyball” story. The once-undervalued metric of on-base percentage is no longer baseball’s best-kept secret — and it’s not even an Oakland staple. The A’s have instead pursued different paths to become one of the better teams in the major leagues despite opening the season with the game’s lowest payroll.Keeping it in the airBecause fly balls and line drives are so much more valuable than ground balls, more and more individual players are trying to launch balls into the air. But the A’s have acquired, and ostensibly tried to develop, the skill at a teamwide level since 2013. As MLB.com’s Mike Petriello found, the A’s have posted five of the eight lowest ground-ball seasons since 2004, including this season’s mark so far. Their average launch angle of 14.9 degrees leads baseball.3The MLB average is 11.7 degrees.While they have acquired fly-ball hitters like Jed Lowrie, Matt Joyce and Khris Davis, they have also developed anti-grounder sluggers in Matt Olson (2012 first-round pick) and Matt Chapman (2014 first-rounder). Lowrie told FiveThirtyEight that he never sat down with an A’s official to talk about his batted-ball profile, but the Stanford University product does use the technology available in the home batting cage for tracking his exit velocity and launch angle to fine-tune his swing.“My guess is they probably identify guys like that to try and acquire [the skill],” Lowrie said of the A’s front office. “It’s part of their calculus.”What on-base percentage was to the Moneyball A’s, fly-ball percentage is to this group of upstarts. That’s made them the league’s fourth-most efficient offense despite a near league-average on-base mark of .322.The A’s are also adapting to their environment. Lowrie notes that Oakland Coliseum is one of the most difficult places in the game to drive the ball, and while the A’s have the lowest ground-ball rate on the road in the majors at 37.8 percent, that rate spikes to 40.9 percent at home, good for eighth-lowest. While Lowrie says teammates Davis, Olson and Chapman can hit the ball “out of Yellowstone,” other A’s alter their approach depending on the ballpark environment. The A’s lead baseball in offensive efficiency on the road with 119 weighted runs created plus (wRC+), a stat that adjusts for park and run environment, with 100 representing league-average performance. But Oakland is only about average at home, with 96 wRC+.Lowrie noted that the A’s set a record for most consecutive road games with a home run this season4They hit at least one homer in 27 straight road games. and that they’ve done much more damage on the road. The Athletics rank 18th in the majors in home runs at home with 67, but they lead the majors in road homers with 106. They are one of the best road teams in baseball at 37-26.“We are playing on a [home] field that is below sea level, with swirling winds that are generally blowing in from right field,” Lowrie said. “We’ve pitched much better at home,” with a 3.32 home ERA vs. 4.30 on the road. “We’ve found different ways to win at home and on the road.”Always be closingThe early 2000s A’s rarely overpaid or valued relievers, believing them to be highly fungible. This Oakland team has the most dominant reliever in the game in Blake Treinen and has further bolstered its strong bullpen with trade acquisitions of Jeurys Familia (2.02 fielding-independent pitching, 19 strikeouts in 15 innings with the A’s) from the Mets and former Twins closer Fernando Rodney.Acquired as a buy-low target with a 5.73 ERA last July in a trade that sent Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson to Washington, Treinen is second in the majors in relief WAR and owns a 1.00 ERA.While WAR may not be the optimum way to measure a reliever’s value, win probability added (WPA) accounts for the change in win expectancy between every plate appearance. According to WPA, Treinen has been the most valuable pitcher in baseball this season — ranking ahead of aces Max Scherzer, Jacob deGrom and Aaron Nola. His sinker leads the majors in whiffs per swing, and when put in play, it produces 4.6 ground balls for every fly ball. Per FanGraphs pitch values, it’s the fifth-best sinker in the majors. The pitch, with its combination of elite velocity and movement, can make opponents look foolish. Rays1495151915190+24 Blue Jays150714881480-8-27 Red Sox154915901602+12+53 Orioles147514221416-6-59 Angels151015141511-3+1 The well-traveled, and perhaps forgotten about, Jackson has given the A’s 60 quality innings this season — not bad for a guy playing on his 13th(!) MLB team. Jackson has done this by getting crafty: reducing the use of his fastball from 35.3 percent last season (47.9 percent for his career) to 16.2 percent this season.Among the changes Fiers has made since joining the A’s is creating more separation in height between his fastball and curveball, as Jeff Sullivan found for FanGraphs. He has a 1.47 ERA in three starts with Oakland.Saving more runsThe makeshift pitching staff is also aided by one of the best infield defenses in the game. That’s an effort led by Chapman.While Chapman is an excellent hitter, he’s the best third base defender in the game according to Defensive Runs Saved — and it’s not close. In fact, his 26 Defensive Runs Saved are the best in the game at any position. The next closest third baseman is Travis Shaw of Milwaukee with nine.Chapman leads an elite Oakland infield defense. According to DRS, the A’s also rank second in DRS at first base and eighth at shortstop in the majors. Moreover, Oakland trails only the Arizona in the difference between expected opponent batting average — based on opponent exit velocity — and actual opponent batting average. The A’s are getting to more ground balls and line drives relative to their infielder rivals. TeamPreseasonAll-Star GameCurrentAll-Star GamePreseason Mariners150815221507-15-1 Twins151014941493-1-17
Ohio State sophomore cornerback Kendall Sheffield (8) takes down Penn State’s Saquon Barkley in the third quarter in the game against Penn State on Oct. 28. Ohio State won 39-38. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo EditorOhio State head coach Urban Meyer couldn’t believe what he was looking at on the podium during his postgame press conference.It was the stat sheet from No. 6 Ohio State’s dramatic, come-from-behind 39-38 victory against No. 2 Penn State in front of 109,302 people at Ohio Stadium Saturday. The paper said the nation’s top running back and Heisman Trophy front-runner Saquon Barkley was limited to 44 rushing yards on 21 carries.“Is this right?” Meyer asked. Yes, it was. And it was the performance Ohio State’s defense had to have against the country’s premier playmaker. In a night where so many calls didn’t go the Buckeyes’ way, the defense bent, but never broke and ended up being the force that broke the hearts of the Penn State sideline.“We were shooting ourselves in the foot a lot of the times, so we definitely knew that it wasn’t those guys beating us,” junior linebacker Jerome Baker said. “It was really just beating ourselves.”Two second-quarter pass interference penalties turned into touchdowns on the next play for Penn State. Junior cornerback Denzel Ward’s third-quarter interception in the end zone was overturned for a Penn State touchdown on the most pivotal play at that point in the game. Through all that, the Ohio State defense lit its own light out of darkness.Ohio State trailed 35-20 entering the fourth quarter and couldn’t afford any mistakes. On the first drive, quarterback J.T. Barrett fumbled the ball in Ohio State territory, dimming the outlook of any possibility of a comeback.The next play, redshirt junior linebacker Dante Booker tackled Barkley for a 7-yard loss on first down and the Buckeyes eventually forced the Nittany Lions into a three-and-out. That’s when the defense created its own break. Ward rushed the punter unblocked, stuffing the kick and Booker recovered the kick in Penn State territory, dramatically shifting the momentum.Penn State nearly put the game away on its next drive, marching down to the Ohio State 7-yard line. At a make-or-break point in the game, Ohio State’s defense came through with a goal-line stand, forcing a field goal when a touchdown likely would have dashed the Buckeyes’ College Football Playoff aspirations.Still down 38-27 with 5:37 on the clock, Ohio State’s offense was only going to have a shot at winning the game if the defense forced two straight three-and-outs.That’s exactly what happened.Ohio State junior linebacker Jerome Baker (17) combines for a tackle with redshirt sophomore cornerback Damon Arnette (3) on Penn State’s Saquon Barkley in the second quarter in the game against Penn State on Oct. 28. Ohio State won 39-38. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo EditorRedshirt junior defensive end Sam Hubbard met Barkley and quarterback Trace McSorley at the mesh point for a 7-yard loss on first down, recording one of nine tackles for loss on Barkley to pin the Nittany Lions back to their own 8-yard line and force a punt. Once Ohio State regained the lead with 1:45 remaining, the defense had to make another stop with Penn State starting its drive on its own 41.Defensive end Jalyn Holmes sacked McSorley on second down and the once-undefeated Nittany Lions didn’t gain a single yard.“That last four plays really sums up what we got, four of the best D-linemen in the country,” Hubbard said. “We knew if we got them in that situation, we were going to close the game.”The Buckeyes held Penn State to 4-of-9 passing for 50 yards and 14 rushing yards on 10 carries in the fourth quarter. Ohio State recorded 13 tackles for loss in the game, including five in the fourth quarter.To win, the Buckeyes could not allow Barkley to beat them. He had his impact on special teams, but his impact on the ground was annihilated outside of his 36-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. Barkley’s 2.1 yard per carry average was his lowest of the season. He entered the game averaging 6.2 yards per carry.Meyer said he was worried about Barkley’s catching ability. The Buckeyes held him to 23 yards on four receptions.“We basically wanted to hit Saquon basically every play,” redshirt senior linebacker Chris Worley said. “We knew that give him any type of daylight, if you don’t build that wall, as you seen on the long run he had, don’t build that wall and he’s going to get in the open field and nine times out of 10, score. He capitalized off that and after that, we didn’t give him much. The big thing was stop that.”The defensive line stalwarts of Hubbard, Holmes, Tyquan Lewis, Nick Bosa and Dre’Mont Jones exposed a Nittany Lion offensive line that couldn’t protect its versatile quarterback or invaluable running back. Ohio State made the late-game defensive stops with immense pressure on McSorley, showing that the defensive line’s dominance can subdue any deficiencies the Buckeyes have in pass coverage.The game was far from perfect, but the defensive performance when it counted most was nearly flawless.
Ohio State redshirt junior H-back Parris Campbell runs after a catch in the first half of the Buckeyes’ victory against Illinois on Nov. 18. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo EditorPlaying their final home game in Ohio Stadium, Ohio State redshirt senior quarterback J.T. Barrett and 18 other seniors ran roughshod on Illinois. The Fighting Illini seemed powerless to stop an Ohio State offense, which dropped 38 points before the starting unit was subbed out with six minutes to go in the second quarter. By that time, the Illini offense had accumulated just 25 yards.“It’s not a goodbye because we have a lot of ball in front of us,” head coach Urban Meyer said. “But it was an opportunity for our seniors to tip their hat to the class, best fans in the land.”The Buckeyes’ first-team offense retook the field after defensive back Ahmari Hayes picked up backup quarterback Dwayne Haskins’ fumble and returned it 54 yards for Illinois’ first score of the game. But after a 12-yard tight end Marcus Baugh touchdown reception, the starters headed to the bench for a final time as No. 9 Ohio State (9-2, 7-1 Big Ten) coasted to a 52-14 victory against Illinois (2-9, 0-9 Big Ten) Saturday at Ohio Stadium.The victory clinched the Big Ten East for Ohio State and set up a matchup between the Buckeyes and Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship on Dec. 2.“The message in the locker room was get out and get out fast,” redshirt senior center Billy Price said. “Take care of the ball, execute at a high level. We had a good game plan going in, we knew what they were going to do.”In his final home game, Barrett completed 11-of-19 passes for 141 yards and two touchdowns. His first touchdown, an 11-yard pass to sophomore wideout Binjimen Victor, gave him 100 passing touchdowns, making him the first quarterback in program history to reach the century mark. Barrett added five rushes for 33 yards and a touchdown. Ohio State’s offense racked up 543 yards, surpassing the 500-yard mark for the ninth time this season.Victor caught a second touchdown later in the game when Haskins hit him for a 21-yard score in the left side of the end zone. Redshirt junior H-back Parris Campbell caught three passes for a team-leading 59 yards. He also took a reverse for 44 yards.Redshirt sophomore running back Mike Weber led the team with 11 carries for 108 yards, including a 4-yard touchdown for Ohio State’s first score of the game and a 43-yard touchdown dash later in the first quarter. The Buckeyes scored three rushing touchdowns in the first quarter, a feat the Illini have not achieved once the entire season. Freshman running back J.K. Dobbins added 12 rushes for 51 yards and a 1-yard touchdown rush.“I will continue to tell y’all, if you get the running game going, everything else opens up,” Price said.Meyer attributed much of the ground-game improvement to the offensive line.“Most improved unit on our team,” Meyer said. “The leadership, the cohesiveness of that group led by their unit leader, [offensive line] coach [Greg Studrawa], has been very noticeable. It was not the strength of our team a year ago. It’s the strength of our team right now. We all know that teams that go to compete with what’s coming up down the road, you have to have a powerful offensive line. The Illinois offense stood no chance against the Buckeyes, either. The Illini accumulated just 105 yards, less yards than in any single game since at least 2000. The visiting team did not pick up a first-down until running back Dre Brown rushed 10 yards to move the chains with 3:37 remaining in the first half.“Defense was dominant,” Meyer said, succinctly. “They did what they had to do.”Ohio State ended the first quarter with 28 points, while the Illini had just 16 yards. The only statistical category Illinois held an advantage in was penalty yards. The visitors were penalized four times for 30 yards in the opening quarter, while the Buckeyes were not flagged.Haskins went 5-for-8 for 77 yards, including one touchdown. He also rushed eight times for 23 yards. The Buckeyes will look to extend its win streak in the final regular-season game of the season when they take on Michigan at noon Saturday in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
The Duchess also unveiled a commemorative plaque in the Sackler Courtyard. Ms Levete, who won the contract for the project in 2011, said: “It’s an absolute honour to have the Duchess of Cambridge opening this building, and I feel very proud of the work my team have done.”The architect, who has recently been nominated for a CBE, said Kate was “quite stunned” when she first emerged into the porcelain courtyard because the “sun came out and the courtyard was glistening”. The former MP added: “It’s also a huge day for the museum; it really revives our original mission, which is the notion of Albertopolis, spreading out on to Exhibition Road.”The first public exhibition will launch in September in the Sainsbury Gallery, with seven nights of opera featuring a different show each night. The Duchess receives flowers from a young girlCredit:Eddie Mulholland for The Telegraph Her Royal Highness tours the V&A’s new entrance and The Sainsbury Gallery with Tristram HuntCredit:Eddie Mulholland for The Telegraph Kate, who is a patron of The National Portrait Gallery, also congratulated donors during a short reception to meet guests involved in the project’s delivery.Sir Tim Sainsbury, 85, a trustee of the Victoria & Albert Museum, said: “I think, like everybody else, the Duchess was immensely impressed by the scale and column-free big heights of the Sainsbury exhibition space.”I think she genuinely enjoyed herself – she even said she’s looking forward to many more future visits.” The Duchess of Cambridge was stunned by the new entrance to the Victoria and Albert Museum, as she attended a ceremony to open the £56.4 million Exhibition Road Quarter.Kate, who wore a nautical Gucci dress, mouthed “Wow” as she walked into the Sackler Courtyard – the world’s first all-porcelain public courtyard, paved with 11,000 hand-made tiles in 15 different patterns The Duchess arrives at the Victoria and Albert MuseumCredit:Eddie Mulholland for The Telegraph The Duchess was said to be ‘quite stunned’ by the architecture Credit:Richard Pohle /Getty V&A director Dr Tristram Hunt said: “I think she was wowed by the architecture, and she was really interested in the engineering – how we dug down and yet kept the walls upright and didn’t break a single glassware or ceramics.” The Duchess, who studied History of Art at university, toured the V&A’s new development, including the Sainsbury Gallery – a huge underground space that was created by digging 59ft (18m) under the museum.The facility, which was largely funded by private donors, was completed in four years by British architect Amanda Levete and her practice, AL-A. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.
A sea eagle apparently carrying a lambCredit:Deadline News Sea eagles are considerably larger than golden eaglesCredit:Deadline News The rare raptors are have been the subject since 1975 of a successful, but controversial, reintroduction programme in different parts of Scotland, most recently on the east coast. He added that if the laser trial was successful it could be rolled out under licence to other areas where the birds were causing problems.Farmers and crofters in areas including the Isle of Skye and the Gairloch peninsula have complained of the birds killing lambs and larger ewe hoggs (sheep up to 18 months old).Last May, a photograph emerged of a sea eagle carrying a new born lamb in its talons as it flew over the village of North Connel in Argyll. Laster beams could be shone on to Highland hillsides in a bid to protect flocks of sheep from Britain’s biggest bird of prey.The technology is to be trialled in Argyll in an area where crofters and farmers have repeatedly complained that Scotland’s white-tailed sea eagles are taking their livestock.The unusual move will be tried along with other measures, including cutting down trees close to one lambing area in a bid to stop the huge raptors nesting in them and preying on lambs.The conservation agency Scottish Natural Heritage said the trials would be “carefully monitored”, with lasers being shone on to the hills and not directly at birds.David Colthart, a farmer and member of the Argyll and Lochaber Sea Eagle Stakeholder Group, said not all sea eagles were a problem but some did prey on lambs. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. Ross Lilley, SNH’s sea eagle project manager, said the “serious concerns” of some farmers and crofters about the impact of sea eagles on livestock had been acknowledged.He added: “At this point, no trials on laser-scaring deterrents for sea eagles have been undertaken.”They are under consideration along with other options. A carefully monitored trial will be critical to make sure lasers are a safe and effective method before we proceed any further.”A report in 2016 predicted the number of sea eagles was likely to reach around 220 pairs by 2025, with potential for a much larger population by 2040. Sea eagles became extinct in the UK in 1916, largely due to persecution.
But this year those same pubs lay empty, as a shortage of grouse saw 70 per cent of the shoot days in the North of England cancelled. With the season coming the a close on Monday, it can be revealed that the shortage has cost rural areas millions in lost income. As well as local businesses feeling the pinch, local people who rely on the casual work as loaders, beaters, flankers, and pickers have all been forced… The vibrant shooting community, which moves into remote moorland areas just as the tourists begin to move out, has in some places disappeared entirely. On a chilly autumn evening the pubs on the edges of the moors come alive with the sounds of celebration after a good day’s shooting.
Paula Taylor’s daughter, Brooke,sat on the floor on the flightCredit:Paul Taylor After being contacted by the programme, TUI offered the family a full £1300 refund, blaming the incident on a “last minute aircraft change”.However, Mrs Taylor said she “got short shrift” from the airline when she personally complained immediately after the incident, despite having photographs of what had happened.She alleges that, after explaining to the company that the seats were “physically missing”, she was told that there was no record of the incident and offered a “good will gesture” of £30. Frustrated, she contacted Rip-Off Britain. A spokesman for TUI said: “We are sorry to hear about Mr Taylor and his family’s experience with us.”Unfortunately a last minute aircraft change meant that the seats the family was originally assigned were unavailable as the alternative aircraft had a different seating configuration.”We’re also sorry for the way the situation was initially handled and we’ll be investigating this. We will also be contacting the customers directly to apologise and will be offering a full refund.”The episode of Rip-Off Britain: Holidays will be broadcast on BBC One on Tuesday at 9.15am. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings. Yet, on the plane, they could not locate the seats stated on their boarding passes.”We all just looked at each other as if to say ‘where’s our seats gone?’ There are no seats where our seats should be,” Mrs Taylor said. Members of the cabin crew proposed that ten-year-old Brooke could take the last spare seat on the flight, and Paula and her husband Ian could sit in two spare flip-up chairs meant for the crew. However, after the plane had taken off, the couple were told that they had to vacate their seats as the attendants needed access to the food and duty free items, which were stored behind them. A family were forced to sit on the floor of an aeroplane during their flight home from Menorca after being told that their allocated seats did not exist. Paula Taylor, 44, her husband Ian, 55, and their daughter Brooke, 10, from Alcester, Warwickshire, arrived early at Mahon airport in June last year for their flight with TUI airlines.They were given the seat numbers 41 D, E and F, but when they boarded the plane they could not find their seats and cabin crew instead offered them flip-up ‘jump’ seats tucked into the crew station.They were later forced to the floor because flight attendants needed access to food and duty free items.–– ADVERTISEMENT ––”We made sure we were three hours early at the airport to check in early just to make sure we got seats together,” Mrs Taylor explained to BBC One’s Rip-Off Britain: Holidays. “We went straight to the front and we were very excited by the fact we had managed to sit together.” Paula Taylor with her husband Ian and daughter BrookeCredit:Paula Taylor On the floor they were joined by their daughter and later the co-pilot of the aircraft, who thanked the family for their “co-operation and understanding”. “He said that how calm we were and he was so grateful because he would have had to, he would have missed the time slot take off,” Mrs Taylor said.She said of the floor: “It’s hard and it’s uncomfortable and it’s just filthy. It’s just not an experience I ever want to repeat.”The Civil Aviation Authority, the body that regulates airlines in the UK, is now investigating the incident. It has asked TUI airlines to explain why the family was allowed to sit on the floor and is looking into a possible breach of regulations.Passengers are allowed to sit in crew seats under certain conditions, but must not be left unseated during any stage of the flight.
Edward Putman on holidayCredit:ROBIN BELL Mr Keeley said the defendant eventually submitted the correct code at a shop in High Wycombe, on August 29 2009.But he said went on: “He was lying. He did not hold the winning ticket, but a forgery created by Mr Knibbs. The real winning ticket may still be out there, for the real winner has never been identified.”Evidence suggested Mr Knibbs was paid an initial £280,000 from Mr Putman for his part in the alleged con, followed by much smaller increments totalling £50,000.But he was angry not to receive more and the pair clashed bitterly in 2015 over what he considered had been Mr Putnam’s “betrayal”.The court was told how a friend staying with Mr Knibbs before his suicide claimed he had been “terrified” that the lottery fraud would emerge.Mr Keeley explained that Mr Knibbs’ suicide in 2015 prompted police to carry out an investigation into the lottery win.This initial investigation was impeded by Camelot’s inability to locate the original of the forged ticket, the court was told, but the case was re-opened in 2017 when ticket was located by an employee,Mr Putman from Kings Langley, Hertfordshire, denies fraud by false representation and the trial continues. Then with the deadline to claim the prize rapidly approaching, Mr Putman allegedly visited 29 different shops providing a different ticket each time, before the right number was found. Opening the case against Mr Putman, prosecutor, James Keeley, said the pair had acted together to defraud the National Lottery.He said: “Although the prosecution say Mr Knibbs received some of the proceeds of the lottery win from the defendant, Mr Knibbs did not feel that he had received his fair share and felt let down by him. It was this sense of injustice that came to a head in June 2015.”The court heard how Mr Knibbs, who worked for Camelot between 2004 and 2010, had been in the office late one night, when he saw a document containing details of the big wins that had not been claimed.The real winning ticket had been bought at a Co-op store in Worcester on March 11 2009 but had never been submitted. Mr Keeley explained that there had been “some trial and error” in producing a successful forged ticket because there were 100 different possible unique codes printed on the bottom.The court was told that Mr Knibbs created numerous different specimens of the forged ticket, each with a different combination of code numbers. He was subsequently arrested on suspicion of burglary, blackmail and criminal damage, but took his own life four months later with the allegations still hanging over him.During the subsequent police investigation it emerged that before his suicide he had confided in friends about the alleged scam because he was terrified it would be exposed. Edward Putman’s home Credit:south beds news agency For six years, builder Edward Putman is alleged to have lived happily on the proceeds of an apparent £2.5million lottery windfall.But the “secret” fraud was exposed when a friend killed himself following an angry confrontation over how the winnings were divided, a court heard.Mr Putman, 54, is accused of submitting a fake ticket in 2009 in order to claim an unclaimed jackpot.St Albans Crown Court heard how he conspired with his friend Giles Knibbs – who worked in the security department at Camelot – to generate a fake winning ticket for the outstanding prize.But having effectively got away with the crime for six years, the alleged fraud was exposed in 2015 when the pair fell out bitterly over the division of the proceeds. The jury was told that Mr Knibbs has only received around £330,000 of the £2,525,485 jackpot and in June 2015 broke into Mr Putnam’s home to confront him. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.