Dallas Sports News

A&M CB Clifford Chattman out 4-6 weeks, LB Anthony Hines III to miss opener against Northwestern State

Dallas Morning Sport News - Wed, 08/29/2018 - 12:38

Texas A&M's defense will be a little shorthanded in the Aggies' season opener against Northwestern State Thursday night.

Head coach Jimbo Fisher said that sophomore cornerback Clifford Chattman will miss 4-6 weeks with an undisclosed injury and is currently recovering from surgery. Fisher subtly mentioned that Chattman was injured during last Thursday's press conference.

Chattman, who missed last season due to academic reasons, was in contention for a starting job at corner for the Aggies. A&M's current depth chart currently lists junior Charles Oliver (6-2, 202) and sophomore Debione Renfro (6-2, 193) as its starters at corner.

Additionally, Fisher said that linebacker and Plano East-ex Anthony Hines III will miss A&M's opener against Northwestern State, but said he should be back to practice next week.

After last Tuesday's practice, Fisher said that Hines was out with a "minor sprain" in an undisclosed place. Hines was listed as one of three starting linebackers for the Aggies.

With Hines out temporarily, A&M is short-handed on the second level. Due to this, Fisher mentioned Larry Pryor seeing significant snaps at nickel as well as a front that sets defensive end Tyree Johnson in a stand-up position on the edge.

The Demons are expected to run an up-tempo offense and have the capability to make big plays in the passing game.

A&M and Northwestern State are set for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff on Thursday night.

Categories: Dallas Sports News

Why report Tom Herman was with Zach Smith at strip club in 2014 says more about Buckeyes than Longhorns

Dallas Morning Sport News - Wed, 08/29/2018 - 12:31

Update, Thursday 1:34 p.m.: The Columbus Dispatch reported last night that Texas coach Tom Herman was the Ohio State assistant with Zach Smith during a visit to a Miami-area strip club in 2014.

SportsDay Big 12 insider Chuck Carlton addressed the report in his live chat Thursday.

"Ah yes," Carlton said. "Just when you thought everything was pretty much over on the Texas/Tom Herman/Ohio State/Zach Smith/Urban Meyer front, along came the revelation that Herman was the other coach with Smith at a Miami-area strip club in 2014.

"First, it was hard-nosed PR by Ohio State, looked like payback against Herman and also diverted attention from all the other disclosures coming out, Well-played Buckeyes. But beyond that, it's not illegal to go to a strip club, although it may be inappropriate depending on your employer. (Full disclosure: Although not recently, yes, I've been to a few as well). But the biggest concern would be if Herman and/or Smith picked up the tab for the Miami-area high schools they were with, which is an NCAA no-no. And Smith did spend nearly $600. So we'll see. Otherwise, I don't know about the lasting impact."

Original story, Wednesday night: Texas coach Tom Herman was the Ohio State assistant with Zach Smith during a visit to a Miami-area strip club in 2014.

The Columbus Dispatch reported that Ohio State spokesman Chris Davey confirmed that Herman, then Ohio State’s offensive coordinator, was the unidentified coach cited in a 23-page university investigation. The investigation looked into the domestic violence allegations against Smith and the handling of the incidents by Ohio State coach Urban Meyer.

Smith was fired in July as Ohio State’s receivers coach after college football insider Brett McMurphy reported that Smith had abused his former wife, Courtney. The incident led to an investigation by an independent panel and suspensions for Meyer and Ohio State AD Gene Smith.

Records show that Smith personally spent almost $600 at the strip club. He did not seek reimbursement from the university nor was Herman mentioned in the expense report, according to the Dispatch.

Texas did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Herman is scheduled to meet with the media Thursday ahead of Texas’ opener Saturday against Maryland at FedEx Field.

Categories: Dallas Sports News

Jimbo Fisher confirms Kellen Mond is Texas A&M's starting QB

Dallas Morning Sport News - Wed, 08/29/2018 - 12:22

It's official -- Kellen Mond is Texas A&M's starting quarterback.

On the afternoon before the Aggies open their season against Northwestern State, head coach Jimbo Fisher confirmed on the SEC's weekly teleconference that Mond will trot onto the field first against the Demons.

Mond, a sophomore, had been competing with fellow sophomore Nick Starkel for the Aggies' starting job. Throughout fall camp, the two had evenly split reps 50-50 with the first team, but in the end, Mond came out on top.

"I thought he had a little better camp overall and he is our starter," Fisher said of Mond on Wednesday's teleconference. "We feel very comfortable with Nick also, though."

Despite naming Mond the starter, Starkel is expected to see action against Northwestern State. However, Fisher did not provide any context as to how a potential rotation between Mond and Starkel would work on Thursday.

At last week's press conference, Fisher raved about Mond's completion percentage of over 80 the day prior in practice, noting how far Mond's accuracy has come since his arrival.

"His hand placement, his hips, his eyes -- tremendous," Fisher said of Mond last Thursday. "Throwing the ball much more accurate down the field and understanding the leverage and air … throwing the ball with his feet and hips very well."

Fisher did note last week that the game against Northwestern State is not necessarily a 'tryout' for Mond and Starkel with a matchup against No. 2 Clemson approaching next Saturday.

"It's not a tryout," Fisher said last Thursday. "It's whoever plays the best."

A&M opens its season Thursday night at home against Northwestern State. Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m. and the game will be aired on SEC Network.

Categories: Dallas Sports News

Who has been the Texas Rangers' MVP this season?

Dallas Morning Sport News - Wed, 08/29/2018 - 10:00

Eric Nadel, Texas Rangers radio play-by-play announcer and Ford C. Frick Award winner, answered questions about the team during a recent live chat. Here are some highlights, edited for clarity:

Who has been the Rangers MVP this season?

Nadel: That's a really tough question. Until he got hurt and missed a month, I would have said Mazara for his steady production....now that distinction falls to Choo. But, I may lean toward Gallo because of the way he has contributed DEFENSIVELY at first, LF and RF, even filling in at times in CF, along with leading the team in HR and RBI....Would be Choo or Gallo. Rougie has been amazing the last two months, but his start helped put the team in the hole they never got out of.

What does the future hold for Joey Gallo with the Rangers?

Nadel: Well I think it's pretty obvious now that Joey is a really good defensive outfielder. Whether he stays there depends a lot on whether Ronald Guzman is good enough to be the everyday first baseman, which is certainly what everyone is hoping for. I can't see Joey being the center fielder at his size and weight, so either RF or LF.

Which younger players do you think will see more time towards the end of the season?

Naddel: The young guys are already playing. Most of the lineup is under 25...I imagine the Rangers will try to create more playing time at catcher for Kiner-Falefa, and will get some at bats for Willie Calhoun....I suppose Yohander Mendez will get some starts, and maybe one or two other guys at Round Rock.

Which player needs to have the strongest end to the season?

Nadel: Great question and there are several good answers....I think Guzman needs to show that he is the first baseman going forward, or else that job will go to Gallo. Deshields still needs to prove he can contribute enough offensively, although his D has been superb. Martin Perez needs to show it's worth picking up his option. I think Leclerc has already shown that he can be a top notch closer. Kiner-Falefa at catcher needs to keep getting reps and establish himself as a legitimate big league receiver, thrower and game caller

View the entire chat.

Categories: Dallas Sports News

Week 1 college football picks: Will Texas get revenge over Maryland? Plus Ole Miss-Texas Tech, Oklahoma-FAU, more

Dallas Morning Sport News - Wed, 08/29/2018 - 09:28

College football season is officially here. And the opening week slate of games is a sight for sore eyes. There are a number of games that should appeal to local college football fans: Texas heads to Maryland to try and avenge its opening-season loss from a year ago. Local programs SMU and North Texas face off in Denton. Oklahoma hosts defending Conference USA champion Florida Atlantic. Kliff Kingsbury and Texas Tech kick off a crucial season in a neutral-site game against Ole Miss in Houston. And don't forget a juicy national slate that includes Michigan-Notre Dame, Auburn-Washington and Miami (FL)-LSU -- the latter of which takes place in Arlington at AT&T Stadium.

Our panel of nine experts will predict 20 games each week this season -- both straight and against the spread. We'll compile their records over the course of the season. Think you can beat them? Feel free to play along by e-mailing your own picks to sbell@dallasnews.com. We'll give the top performer each week a special shout out in the following week's picks.

Here are this week's full picks:

Week 1
BEN BABY SCOTT BELL CHUCK CARLTON CORBY DAVIDSON RIC RENNER JOSE RODRIGUEZ NEWY SCRUGGS KEVIN SHERRINGTON BRETT VITO Matchups Vs. Spread Straight Vs. Spread Straight Vs. Spread Straight Vs. Spread Straight Vs. Spread Straight Vs. Spread Straight Vs. Spread Straight Vs. Spread Straight Vs. Spread Straight Texas (-11.5) vs. Maryland in Washington D.C. Maryland Texas Texas Texas Maryland Texas Texas Texas Texas Texas Texas Texas Texas Texas Maryland Texas Texas Texas Texas Tech (-2) vs. Ole Miss in Houston Ole Miss Ole Miss Texas Tech Texas Tech Ole Miss Ole Miss Ole Miss Ole Miss Texas Tech Texas Tech Texas Tech Texas Tech Texas Tech Texas Tech Texas Tech Texas Tech Ole Miss Ole Miss FAU (+20.5) at Oklahoma FAU FAU Oklahoma Oklahoma Oklahoma Oklahoma Oklahoma Oklahoma FAU Oklahoma FAU Oklahoma FAU Oklahoma FAU Oklahoma FAU Oklahoma SMU (+4) at North Texas SMU North Texas North Texas North Texas North Texas North Texas North Texas North Texas North Texas North Texas North Texas North Texas North Texas North Texas North Texas North Texas North Texas North Texas Houston (-24) at Rice Houston Houston Houston Houston Houston Houston Houston Houston Houston Houston Houston Houston Houston Houston Houston Houston Houston Houston UTSA (+18.5) at Arizona State Arizona State Arizona State UTSA Arizona State UTSA Arizona State UTSA Arizona State Arizona State Arizona State Arizona State Arizona State UTSA Arizona State Arizona State Arizona State UTSA Arizona State Texas State (+16) at Rutgers Rutgers Rutgers Rutgers Rutgers Rutgers Rutgers Texas State Rutgers Rutgers Rutgers Rutgers Rutgers Rutgers Rutgers Rutgers Rutgers Rutgers Rutgers Colorado (-7) vs. Colorado State in Denver (Fri) Colorado State Colorado Colorado Colorado Colorado Colorado Colorado Colorado Colorado Colorado Colorado Colorado Colorado Colorado Colorado State Colorado Colorado Colorado Syracuse (-6) at Western Michigan (Fri) Syracuse Syracuse Syracuse Syracuse Western Michigan Syracuse Western Michigan Syracuse Syracuse Syracuse Syracuse Syracuse Western Michigan Syracuse Syracuse Syracuse Western Michigan Western Michigan Western Kentucky (+34.5) at Wisconsin Western Kentucky Wisconsin Western Kentucky Wisconsin Western Kentucky Wisconsin Wisconsin Wisconsin Western Kentucky Wisconsin Western Kentucky Wisconsin Western Kentucky Wisconsin Wisconsin Wisconsin Wisconsin Wisconsin Tennessee (+10) vs. West Virginia in Charlotte West Virginia West Virginia West Virginia West Virginia Tennessee West Virginia West Virginia West Virginia West Virginia West Virginia West Virginia West Virginia West Virginia West Virginia West Virginia West Virginia West Virginia West Virginia Alabama (-25) vs. Louisville in Orlando Alabama Alabama Alabama Alabama Alabama Alabama Alabama Alabama Alabama Alabama Alabama Alabama Alabama Alabama Alabama Alabama Alabama Alabama Auburn (-2.5) vs. Washington in Atlanta Auburn Auburn Washington Washington Washington Washington Auburn Auburn Auburn Auburn Washington Washington Washington Washington Washington Washington Auburn Auburn Miami (FL) (-3) vs. LSU in Arlington Miami (FL) Miami (FL) LSU Miami (FL) Miami (FL) Miami (FL) Miami (FL) Miami (FL) Miami (FL) Miami (FL) Miami (FL) Miami (FL) LSU Miami (FL) Miami Miami Miami (FL) Miami (FL) North Carolina (+7.5) at Cal Cal Cal Cal Cal Cal Cal Cal Cal Cal Cal Cal Cal Cal Cal Cal Cal Cal Cal Cincinnati (+16.5) at UCLA UCLA UCLA Cincinnati UCLA UCLA UCLA UCLA UCLA UCLA UCLA UCLA UCLA Cincinnati UCLA UCLA UCLA UCLA UCLA Michigan (-1) at Notre Dame Michigan Michigan Michigan Michigan Notre Dame Notre Dame Michigan Michigan Michigan Michigan Michigan Michigan Michigan Michigan Notre Dame Notre Dame Notre Dame Notre Dame Oregon State (+37) at Ohio State Oregon State Ohio State Ohio State Ohio State Ohio State Ohio State Ohio State Ohio State Oregon State Ohio State Ohio State Ohio State Ohio State Ohio State Oregon State Ohio State Ohio State Ohio State Appalachian State (+23) at Penn State Penn State Penn State App. State Penn State Penn State Penn State Penn State Penn State Penn State Penn State Penn State Penn State App State Penn State App State Penn State Penn State Penn State Boise State (-10.5) at Troy Troy Boise State Troy Boise State Troy Boise State Boise State Boise State Troy Boise State Boise State Boise State Troy Boise State Troy Boise State Troy Boise State Last season vs. line 156-140-13 (.527) 153-143-13 (.517) 152-144-13 (.514) 153-143-13 (.517) 150-146-13 (.507) n/a 156-140-13 (.527) 143-153-13 (.483) 144-152-13 (.487) Last season straight 225-84 (.728) 235-74 (.761) 232-77 (.751) 223-86 (.722) 223-86 (.722) n/a 229-80 (.741) 227-82 (.735) 228-81 (.738)

*Texas A&M, Baylor, TCU, Oklahoma State, Kansas, Kansas State and Iowa State all play non-FBS opponents, so their games do not have betting lines.

Categories: Dallas Sports News

Tyler Seguin is frustrated, and that's a good sign for Dallas Stars fans

Dallas Morning Sport News - Wed, 08/29/2018 - 08:34

The Dallas Stars need Tyler Seguin.

Tyler Seguin wants to stay with the Dallas Stars.

The Dallas Stars know what Tyler Seguin is seeking on his next contract.

The Dallas Stars can afford Tyler Seguin.

In comments yesterday, Seguin's little frustration with the situation hit the media. Panic ensued. Scenarios where the Stars have Radek Faksa and three AHL callups at center in the 2020 season began circulating in the minds of Stars fans.

Stop it.

The basic calculus of the Stars negotiations with their soon-to-be free agent superstar center hasn't changed in the last few days. Put yourself in the shoes of Seguin for a moment. You want to stay in a place you like, and you know they can afford your contract. You know what you're worth, John Tavares just showed you. In his shoes, wouldn't you be a little frustrated by not already having your name on the dotted line that guarantees you close to $90 million?

I love money. I wish I had more of it. I can only imagine how antsy I would get waiting for that to get guaranteed. Granted, I'm not Tyler Seguin in so many ways. But the point is that frustration is a very reasonable reaction to the situation.

What's important to keep in mind here is that it's good that Seguin is frustrated by this. His frustration should tell you, as a Stars fan, everything you need to know about where Seguin wants to play. He wouldn't be frustrated if he was trying to walk out the door.

This is what Seguin told reporters:

"Nothing's really going on, Pretty much haven't been talking much this summer. It's been a little disappointing. I thought I'd have some exciting news to talk about at BioSteel camp, especially this late in the summer."

This isn't a doom-and-gloom scenario. There could be a number of reasons why the Stars have yet to finalize a deal, but I would wager it has very little to do with Seguin. It's just as easy to imagine that the Stars roster could still be in flux with the possibility of adding another big piece who could also need a big extension after this season, thus blowing up the cap math the Stars are currently looking at.

Do I know that is the case? Absolutely not, but you can easily construct a scenario to fit your frame of mind about the situation should you want to do so. A pessimistic view is always creeping over the horizon until the ink is dry on a contract with a player of his caliber, but the reality here is that Seguin has a lot of leverage here if he wanted to exert it.

What are the Stars going to do? Not sign Seguin? Please. If a star player wants to play for you and you can afford him...you do it. Full stop.

This is a leverage move because he wants his contract. Everyone in this scenario does. I will be absolutely stunned if it doesn't happen at some point, maybe even soon.

The Dallas Stars need Tyler Seguin.

Tyler Seguin wants to stay with the Dallas Stars.

The Dallas Stars know what Tyler Seguin is seeking on his next contract.

The Dallas Stars can afford Tyler Seguin.

Do the math and take a step back. Take a deep breath. Everything is going to be OK. Get your minds right for the soon-to-be opening training camp of what should, hopefully, be a pretty fun season under new head coach Jim Montgomery.

Tyler Seguin isn't going anywhere.

Disclaimer to avoid @OldTakesExposed: most likely.

Categories: Dallas Sports News

What Dak Prescott has done to make Cowboys backup quarterback question less of an issue

Dallas Morning Sport News - Wed, 08/29/2018 - 07:00

Kevin Sherrington and Evan Grant of The Dallas Morning News are back to discuss all things Dallas Cowboys in this week's edition of the "Ballzy" podcast with their guest: Cowboys beat writer David Moore. Here are some highlights.

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Sherrington: Give me your three biggest concerns for the Cowboys at this point.

Moore: We talked about this, and there's no need to dwell on it because we've talked about a lot, but especially with the injuries they've had at safety the Earl Thomas question and possibility/probability looms even larger.

Here are three things I think going into the season this personnel department needs to sort through. One: Are they going to go get Earl Thomas or not? Two: Are they comfortable with their backup quarterback going into this season or do they feel they need to do something on the waiver wire or trade? Three: Are they comfortable that Joe Looney can start at center for a significant part of the season and they just pick up a backup off the waiver wire, or do they have to be a little more aggressive to trade and come into start and have Joe Looney as the back up center. Those would be the three things I would point to.

...

Sherrington: The backup quarterback situation. Especially when Romo was still here and there's no question they needed to have someone there, not only because of their injury history but because he was an older quarterback and they needed to be developing somebody.

I find it to be less of an issue for me now. I guess because Dak [Prescott] is so young and he's a big, healthy guy. But if you believe this team has real chances to go deep into the playoffs and Dak gets hurt, I think you probably do need to bring in a veteran quarterback to bring in at least for a couple of games that you feel like can steer the ship along a little bit. If you don't feel like Cooper Rush is capable of doing that then you probably do need to make a move.

Moore: Dak is a bigger quarterback. He hasn't shown any injury history to this point. I think he's a very smart runner. He doesn't take needless risks running, and he doesn't look to run at first opportunity. It's really kind of a last result. But how often does he flip up in the air in the end zone? Like I said, I think he has a really good feel. He slides and avoids a lot of hits in the open field. He knows when to go down. He knows where the first down is. Once you get that he's not looking to needlessly prolong the play for an extra 2-3 yards, he'll go down.

That being said, he's going to run 65 to 80 a season. He's going to run 5-6 times a game. Those are 5-6 opportunities in the open-field, where no matter how careful and judicious he is as a runner, he's exposing himself to getting knocked out for the remainder of the game or a game or two. So they have to be pretty confident. I think they were pretty confident going into this camp about Cooper Rush. Now where are you on this reassessment of that? I will say that he hasn't looked anywhere near as good as he did last season when he played his way onto the roster out of nowhere. But you also can't judge him too critically because here everyone agrees don't put Dak Prescott behind that offensive line against Arizona. We're fine putting Cooper Rush out there, and oh look Cooper Rush doesn't look good.

He hasn't had a lot of the top receivers out there either. He hasn't had Elliott or the primary receivers out there, and he's had a patchwork offensive line. He had a lot of that last year, which is true, but he hasn't looked as good and he hasn't looked as sharp. Internally there's not an overwhelming concern about him taking it step back this year.

Sherrington: My experience looking at NFL quarterbacks, especially young ones, is most of them are pretty good behind a good offensive line. When you start to get a rush in your face, things change very quickly. It would be a lower priority for me. Clearly Earl Thomas is the No. 1 thing. ...

Moore: With this young secondary and what they've seen from the defensive front-seven this camp, I think this encourages them. Some people would say they feel so good about this defense that they're less inclined to [trade for Earl Thomas]. I've always been of the ilk that the better their defense looked in preseason, the more likely they would go with Thomas because they think maybe this defense could be special.

He's a guy that could cover up a lot of mistakes our young secondary makes. Our secondary is playing more aggressive, playing up on the line more, we want them to do that. He can ease any mistakes that are made there, he can teach this young group. Now all of a sudden we go from a very good defense to a defense that can impose its will in some games. It's been a while since this Cowboys defense has been able to impose its will. They've had some decent defenses, but it's been a long time since they've been able to impose their will in portions of the game. I think they feel with what they've seen so far in camp that Thomas can make this one of the better defensive groups in the league.

Sherrington: The thing that's different about the Cowboys now for me is, if Jaylon Smith continues to play like he has played in the preseason and like he has looked, this linebacking group is the best they've had in a long, long time. I'm talking even back in the glory days they didn't really have a crew like this. Ken Norton was a very good linebacker, but as Brad Sham said he hasn't seen anyone as explosive at linebacker for the Cowboys since Hollywood Henderson.

....

When people talk about adding a guy like Earl Thomas, why would you do that now when the defense already looks pretty good? It's the same reason you do that the Rangers did not go out and add a starting pitcher now because they're not good and they're not very good.

Grant: If you've got an opportunity to take a defense from pretty good to elite, especially in the NFL I think an elite defense can carry you into the playoffs with an average to below-average offense. And I think the Cowboys offense can be better than average. If you've got the opportunity to create an elite, top-tier defense you do it. Clearly the Seahawks are rebuilding and clearly they're waiting to see what the best return in terms of a draft pick. I expect as we get down to setting final rosters that there's too much smoke there and too much reason for it to happen for it to not happen.

Categories: Dallas Sports News

The Rangers will be conducting many September experiments. Here are some conclusions they hope to find.

Dallas Morning Sport News - Tue, 08/28/2018 - 21:28

ARLINGTON - Ariel Jurado didn't make it through the third inning Tuesday in a 8-4 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers. He has a 6.69 ERA. And he has been the best of the starting pitching candidates the Rangers have called up from the minors this year.

That says a lot; most of it profane.

Before the week is out, though, the pool of names, could increase.

Maybe.

With the Rangers able to expand their roster up to 40 on Saturday, it seemed a foregone conclusion that Yohander Mendez, who had one dreadful major league start earlier this year, would join what could be a mish-mash of guys auditioning for 2019 spots in September. Then Mendez was hit by a line drive in the third inning while pitching for Triple-A Round Rock Tuesday. He was removed from the game with what appears to be a bruise.

What is clear is the Rangers need to look at whatever pitching options they have in September. They have the worst starting rotation ERA in the majors (5.50) this year and they have only one spot, that belonging to Mike Minor, nailed down for 2019. As a staff, the Rangers began the day with the third worst ERA in the majors (4.96).

If there is going to be a theme to the final month of the season, it is going to be about casting a net for pitching potential. The club has already given more than 3,100 plate appearances to young hitters. There has not been anything close to the same kind of exposure for pitchers.

With that in mind, here's a look at guys who would make sense as September pitching callups with an emphasis on starting:

Yohander Mendez: Forget the fact that Mendez is 0-8 with a 5.81 ERA at Triple-A and the majors this season, he still represents the most advanced starting prospect in the system. If not for his wild night out in Kansas City, he likely would have gotten the late-summer starts in place of Jurado. He's also out of minor league options after this season, so the Rangers are going to go to camp next year having to make a final decision on his future in the organization. They need to compile as many innings as possible for evaluation purposes.

Adrian Sampson: He's not on the 40-man roster, so the club would have to create room for him, but he's also compiled a 2.28 ERA in his last 10 starts at Round Rock. He reached the big leagues in 2016 with Seattle but got hurt warming up for his second major league start and it set him back a year. It's possible to make an argument Sampson, who turns 27 in October, could be a bigger part of the future than 33-year-old Austin Bibens-Dirkx, who currently holds a 40-man roster spot.

Chris Rowley: Acquired on a waiver claim from Toronto a month ago, Rowley, has allowed three earned runs in 26 innings over his last four starts at Round Rock. He was named the Pacific Coast League's Pitcher of the Week for the just-completed week. The Rangers also claimed lefty Zac Curtis off waivers from Philadelphia this summer; he could get a look as a situational reliever.

None are top-tier prospects. But the Rangers are also looking at experimenting with a pitching staff that does away with a lot of traditional roles.

Starters could be asked to go one or two-trips through the lineups or asked to pitch after an "opener" has navigated the Rangers through the first inning. For fringy prospects, such an arrangement might be easier to manage and easier to accept.

"It's something we'd like to look at," manager Jeff Banister said of experimenting with roles. "When we get to September and have a couple of more arms, we can look at those things. We would like to do it, but we also have a responsibility to the integrity of the game to play to win. We're trying to balance both. We'd like to take a look at what ways we can make the production [of the pitchers] better."

The Rangers will have that chance in less than a week. September will be upon them. And so will begin a month of experimentation.

Categories: Dallas Sports News

Why (in theory) using an 'opener' to start games would ultimately benefit the Rangers' rotation

Dallas Morning Sport News - Tue, 08/28/2018 - 19:27

The latest installment of #EvanHelpUs...

ME: The simplest way I can explain this is that it's about breaking down barriers.

One reason: Teams bat their best three offensive players in the top three spots in the lineup. If you've got somebody to neutralize them in the first inning, and somebody else to face them the second and third times through the order with different stuff and a different look, the chances of keeping them in check theoretically improve.

Second: More and more, starters are becoming five-inning pitchers. They tend to struggle a third time through the lineup, especially when facing the top of the order a third time. If this is the case, using the "starter" in the second inning could give him 24 hitters before he'd have to face Nos. 1-2-3 a third time.

The idea is to most efficiently find a way to get 27 outs. Let's face facts, Rangers pitchers have not done a good job of doing that. So, it's time to look at possible ways to improve that. This method may ultimately not work for them, but this team must be willing to try new things as it goes through the process of rebuilding its pitching staff.

ME: My instincts are that it will never get to an actual decision. I think either the Rangers will negotiate an extension that removes the opt out years or Andrus will simply choose not to opt out.

On the business side there is the supply and demand element. I don't think there are many contenders really in dire need at shortstop right now. Also, those that are will be aiming for Manny Machado this winter. In the AL, Boston, New York, Cleveland, Houston and the A's all seem set at shortstop for the time being. If there is a real threat to Andrus opting out, it might come after next season when he has a second opportunity to opt out. Then, the New York Yankees may be looking to replace Didi Gregorius (he's a free agent after 2019).

Even under that scenario, I think there's at least as good a chance the Yankees extend Gregorius, who is two years younger than Andrus, rather than go the free agent route for a shortstop.

Where Andrus is concerned, I think the Rangers are in a fairly decent position to hold on to him for the length of his contract.

ME: There was a list circulated, but in the interest of brevity, I'm not going to go through every player's tribute shoulder patch. Suffice to say, the name of a loved one was written on each. Either a parent, a spouse, a child, a mentor or a friend. The patches were meant for the players to express thanks to someone who had an impact on their lives. Nobody tried to get cute or funny with that concept.

ME: It's been discussed. All-too-real situation is the Rangers need rotation options for 2019. Any and all options should be discussed. Butler, 27, will be an inexpensive option for the Rangers to consider. Butler hasn't overwhelmed anybody since he came to the Rangers in the Cole Hamels trade, but a chance to compete for a starting role in 2019 might be great motivation.

The biggest issue is he's now out of minor league options. It would be great if he could shuttle back and forth to the major league rotation as needed - if that were needed - but the Rangers won't have that kind of flexibility with him. He'll either have to stick on the major league roster or be offered up to others on waivers.

ME: Oh, they considered it. Just because they haven't committed to it doesn't mean they didn't consider it. But what were they going to do: Turn the $500 million subsidy the City of Arlington was going to underwrite for them over the playing surface. Also, the Rangers feel there have been significant advancements in the technology related to artificial turf. Though everybody wants grass for aesthetics, the plain truth is that some parks might be better off if they had an advanced artificial surface over a sketchy natural playing surface.

Arizona and Houston both went with natural grass in their retractable-roof stadiums and have struggled to maintain the grass. Arizona brings in growing lights after games to help the grass grow. I know when the Rangers were in Arizona last month, the Diamondbacks hauled out the lights as soon as a game was over. And still the quality of the field wasn't great.

The Rangers will survey the options and they will make the call based on the latest possible information they have. In the end, everybody would prefer they have a natural playing surface, but, ultimately, their responsibility is to have the best, safest surface, regardless of whether it is real or plastic.

ME: Interleague play takes place every year. What changes are the divisional matchups. The rotation had the Rangers playing the NL East last year, the NL West this season and the NL Central next year. What gets weird is that there is no real rotation to whom they play at home and whom they face on the road in those stretches.

For example, the Rangers have played St. Louis just once in Arlington during the regular season; that coming in 2004. The Rangers have played twice at St. Louis in that time. When the Rangers went to San Francisco over the weekend, it was the first time they had been to AT&T Park since 2012. That element of the scheduling just becomes entirely unpredictable. There is no definitive trade off of home and home series. It can become quite random.

Case in point: The Chicago Cubs open the 2019 season in Arlington. The Cubs haven't been to Arlington since 2010. And that was the only time. Later in the year, the Cardinals visit for only the second time ever.

ME: I feel like we've been over this issue over and over in this space this year and my answer has remained pretty constant: If there is value to be had for Profar this offseason, particularly if it is in the area of pitching, a deal must be explored. He's too close to free agency (free after 2020) to be considered a core player. The need for controllable pitching is too great.

That said, I was also assuming Beltre would come back in 2019 and so you could justify moving Profar even more easily. I'm not nearly as sure any more that Beltre will return. So, maybe it makes more sense to consider extending Profar and making him a part of the core. There isn't a third baseman on the horizon coming from the minor league system. If the Rangers are going to add a third baseman in the future, Nolan Arenado should be the target. He's going to cost a ton and he's not a free agent until after 2019. I just think this remains a really fluid situation.

ME: Winn did sign for below slot, so, on the surface, it certainly appears the bonus was part of the decision. But I can tell you this: I feel really confident in saying the Rangers had Winn ranked ahead of Liberatore on their own board. They might have had Winn ranked as their No. 1 high school player overall. In the incredibly unlikely scenario that say Casey Mize or Joey Bart or Nick Madrigal had fallen to them, I don't know what the Rangers would have done, but I'm more confident than in previous years that Winn was indeed the guy they identified and wanted.

Winn, Owen White and Mason Englert, the Rangers' top three pitching picks, have all been at the club's spring training facility going through what the club calls a "deload" program that emphasizes acclimatizing to professional baseball. It also has meant less throwing. They did not pitch in any games during the Arizona Rookie League season. They will face hitters in the Instructional League when that begins in September.

ME: There is no absolute path to a GM's job, especially since there are only 30 of them. But if you want to work in pro sports today, I'd suggest studying law or business and get really comfortable with understanding concepts of statistical analysis.

You've also got to be aggressive, able to network, willing to work long hours for little pay and OK with giving up a social life. The baseball industry is incredibly competitive. Know that Jon Daniels gave up the start of a very successful business career to take an unpaid internship with Colorado. He lived in a buddy's basement during that period. When he got to the Rangers' it was essentially in an entry-level position that meant being willing to pick up players at the airport and tote their bags for them (not kidding, first time I met him, he was carrying Chris Widger's bag into the clubhouse in January, 2002).

And even after that, it is often a very long and hard road to future advancement.

One other thing I'd encourage you to understand is this: People get too caught up in whether you are a "scouting guy" or a "analytics guy." You don't have to pick a side. Both are valuable tools. But one area I really suggest you try to master is how to value people. A GM is a manager of people first and the key to success there is investing in people and helping them grow.

Categories: Dallas Sports News

What Tony Romo told ex-Cowboys teammate Travis Frederick after Guillain-Barre diagnosis

Dallas Morning Sport News - Tue, 08/28/2018 - 18:00

FRISCO -- Travis Frederick hasn't missed a down since the Cowboys drafted him in the first round of 2013.

He's about to snap that 1,065-play streak as he recovers from a recent diagnosis of Guillain-Barre Syndrome, a rare autoimmune disorder in which his immune system attacks his nervous system.

An ex-Cowboys teammate with experience missing games recently offered the center advice.

"I've texted with Travis, told him I was praying for him and always rooting for him - that he's going to fight this and I know he's going to be all right," Tony Romo told SportsDay by phone Tuesday. "Things happen sometimes in life. You have to deal with it, have to attack it, and no one's going to work harder to get back in play.

"But I told him I want him to be smart and safe, take his time."

Romo would know: He played just five of 32 games his last two seasons with the Cowboys, twice breaking his collarbone and then fracturing his back in his last season of 2016. Dak Prescott became Dallas' starting quarterback after Romo's 2016 preseason back fracture, never relinquishing the job.

Romo retired in the 2017 offseason to become, with a breakout debut year, CBS' lead NFL analyst. He's also Corona's gameday hotline operator this fall.

Romo said he learned an important lesson from his injuries that he's now reiterating to the center he once lined up behind.

"The hardest thing is that you don't want to let down your team," Romo said, "but you have to concentrate on that the best thing you can give your team is get yourself fully healthy.

"Coming back too early doesn't help anyone. I think that's one big part of it. And then when you do come back, you've just got to go back to work and do what you normally do."

Romo knows that big-picture outlook to watching games on the sideline is easier said than done. Frederick is "vital" to the Cowboys offense - "his communication skills are the best I've ever seen," Romo said. Sliding backup Joe Looney in for Frederick, even with Looney's understanding of the Cowboys offense, isn't as simple as next man up.

"Guys like that you don't just replace," Romo said. "You try to figure out a way to almost do things sometimes a little differently. You kind of tweak your offense a little bit."

The Cowboys will need to, with Frederick's diagnosis timeline indefinite since he first began experiencing symptoms during training camp in Oxnard, Calif. Frederick at first thought he was battling stingers. He went to examine the shooting pains, numbness and weakness with specialists in California and then Dallas.

Since beginning treatment last week, Frederick has maintained enough strength to return to Cowboys practice. He isn't practicing but has rejoined meetings and resumed light workouts. All are good signs for patients battling GBS, which varies in degrees of severity. Still, a neurologist at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas who treats GBS patients, cautioned SportsDay last week of the perils of rushing back.

Introducing intensity too early "could slow down his recovery or hasten reoccurrence if he overdrives his body early in the recovery period," Miller said.

Romo cautioned Frederick for another reason: his friends and family.

"He's a big part of the future of the Dallas Cowboys," Romo said, "and I know every week is really important to the season. But he needs to make sure he also thinks about his wife, loved ones and family, and do the right thing, which he will.

"He's a great teammate and a great person to be around."

Twitter: @JoriEpstein

Categories: Dallas Sports News

Dez Bryant tweets he 'will play ball' this season, but where and when is still unknown

Dallas Morning Sport News - Tue, 08/28/2018 - 17:48

The wait continues for Dez Bryant.

After his release from the Dallas Cowboys this spring, the free agent wide receiver's name has been linked to multiple teams over the past few months, but a contract for the upcoming NFL season has yet to come to fruition.

And according to Bryant's Twitter account (which has become a main source of information about his ongoing free agency), the wait for his next deal could even extend into the regular season.

"I just have to take care of me first," Bryant tweeted Monday night. "I will play ball this year just might be a lil bit later in the year .. we will see."

Bryant, who turns 30 in November, is the Cowboys' all-time leader in receiving touchdowns (73) and earned three trips to the Pro Bowl during his eight-year run in Dallas.

He recently visited the Cleveland Browns, but left without signing a contract.

Oddsmakers over at MyBookie currently have Cleveland as the favorite team to land the wide receiver this season. Tied with the Browns as their most-likely scenario -- Bryant not playing at all in 2018.

Categories: Dallas Sports News

What Cowboys DBs coach Kris Richard sees in corner Chidobe Awuzie, including smarts and a subtle mean streak

Dallas Morning Sport News - Tue, 08/28/2018 - 17:28

FRISCO -- During Cowboys cornerback Chidobe Awuzie's high school days in San Jose, Calif. he was a student of YouTube U.

He'd examine footage of NFL corners Patrick Peterson, Richard Sherman, Darrelle Revis and more. Awuzie, who the Cowboys hope can become the big-play corner they've long coveted, broke down the details of the star defenders' moves.

"I would take notes on every step," Awuzie said Tuesday from Dallas' locker room. "I would put it in slow motion and watch it again and again."

Entering his second season, the 2017 second-round draft pick is in the beginning stages of putting together his own cross section worth re-playing. As training camp wraps and Dallas endures its final preseason game Thursday at Houston, it's a challenge to list players who have had a better last five weeks than Awuzie.

Expectations are soaring for the entire defense and Chido, who NBC analyst Cris Collinsworth even gushed over as Dallas' potential next great corner during Sunday's preseason loss to Arizona.

In 57 preseason snaps over three games, playing left corner opposite fellow corner Byron Jones, Awuzie totaled six tackles, three passes defended, one interception and one tackle for loss.

The pick, in the second exhibition game, is memorable. Awuzie skied for the pass from Cincinnati backup quarterback Jeff Driskel and managed to knock the ball with his right hand. He gained control of it as he fell to the ground.

Awuzie said he wished he would've nabbed it with one hand on the first try. But first-year secondary coach Kris Richard gave it an A.

"The quarterback tried to expose a gray area that we emphasize," Richard said. Awuzie "did a really nice job of high-pointing the ball and bringing it down."

The Cowboys haven't been able to produce enough interceptions in recent years, notching nine in 2016 and 10 in 2017. Awuzie had one interception in his rookie season, in the final game of the season at Philadelphia.

He'd come on late, limited to 10 games -- starting the last five -- because of a hamstring injury first suffered in training camp that he twice re-aggravated. While he showed promise, he also endured growing pains, such as Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch going "Beast Mode" and trucking him during Dallas' trip to Oakland. However, Awuzie did keep Lynch from gaining yards after contact.

The Colorado Buffalo product's confidence can't be knocked out of him.

Richard likes that about Awuzie, along with his intelligence, anticipation and necessary subtle mean streak. And Richard says the big plays and takeaways will come if Awuzie and the rest of the secondary focus on technique and fundamentals. Forcing it can lead to being fooled by double-moves or having bad eyes in coverage.

Awuzie, 6-0, 200 pounds, with power, speed and length, is a natural for Richard's system. It's based on man-to-man coverage at the line of scrimmage, with a focus on making life hard on receivers, including using a kick-step technique that helps stay on top of the receivers.

Awuzie said he wants to become a "sensei," or master of the technique.

Dallas' receivers have noticed Awuzie's patience in camp in press coverage.

"That's really the toughest challenge you have in the NFL as a receiver is dealing with press all game," veteran receiver Cole Beasley said. "We get to work it all the time with our defense doing that."

Awuzie said he has enough faith in his athletic ability that he takes a "Why not me?" approach to the NFL. Back in his school days, he started working with a friend on the mental aspects of his game. Awuzie, more than just studying greats on YouTube, tried to hold himself to high standards.

"There's players in this league who are great," Awuzie said. "And I want to be one of those players. That's my motivation."

Editor's note: this story has been updated.

Categories: Dallas Sports News

What Kellen Mond worked on with 'quarterback guru' Jimbo Fisher to become Texas A&M's starter for season opener

Dallas Morning Sport News - Tue, 08/28/2018 - 16:45

COLLEGE STATION -- When Texas A&M coach Jimbo Fisher looked at Kellen Mond's hips and eyes, he liked what he saw.

Fisher referenced those attributes last week as he discussed the sophomore quarterback's improvement throughout the offseason. There were other things Fisher admired about Mond, too -- accuracy, demeanor and development.

"I've been very, very pleased with his progress," Fisher said last week.

Those things might have played a role in who would take the first snap of the season. According to multiple reports, Mond will be the starter when the Aggies host Northwestern State on Thursday night at Kyle Field.

Given the likelihood that Mond and sophomore Nick Starkel will see action in the opener, the quarterback battle probably isn't over. But to grasp how far Mond has come, one must look at the wide statistical gap between him and Starkel at the end of last season.

In 2017, Starkel suffered an ankle injury that paved the way for Mond to start eight games during the middle of the season. But by the end of the year, Starkel was back at the top of the depth chart.

So Mond spent the offseason working with Fisher, who brought his reputation as a quarterback guru to College Station when he was hired in December.

Mond said he worked on holding the ball with both hands, understanding angles and raising the ball in his throwing motion to quicken his release. But it wasn't all mechanics.

"It was a lot of the mental game," Mond said. "Understanding and reading defenses is one of the biggest reasons I'm having so much success this year."

Fisher praised Mond's performance in a practice last week. He said the former prized recruit completed more than 80 percent of his passes.

It's a staggering rate for any quarterback, but it gained added significance given the accuracy gap between Starkel and Mond last year.

Against "power five" opponents, Starkel completed 58.3 percent of his passes compared to Mond's 47.2 percent. While Starkel threw interceptions at a slightly higher rate, he averaged more yards per attempt and completion.

Those improvements will be something to watch against Northwestern State, a Football Championship Subdivision school. Last Thursday, Starkel said the scenario of both playing was appropriate because of how evenly they split reps during the preseason.

"That would make sense with the way it's going right now," Starkel said.

Mond showing his improvement as a passer will also be important because of the system change. In Fisher's pro-style offense, Mond anticipates the first-year coach will call for less designed runs. Mond, A&M's second-leading returning rusher, pointed out that he rarely ran the ball during A&M's spring game (six carries for 17 yards from scrimmage).

"He wants me to continue to play from the pocket," Mond said. "On third down occasionally, I might have to take off and run and make a play, but life's all about moving the chains."

What Mond has done in the pocket since Fisher's arrival is why he's starting the opener. Given the way Starkel ended last season, it appeared Mond required a lot of offseason work to dethrone the incumbent.

By all accounts, Mond did everything needed to show Fisher why he should be the leader of the offense. The quarterback's improvements and progress will be on full display Thursday as he attempts to lock up the starting job for good.

"I feel like the work ethic and the kind of work I've put in this offseason has led me and put me in a good position to succeed in this offense," Mond said.

Twitter: @Ben_Baby

Categories: Dallas Sports News