The Good and the Bad of OSU’s Kickoff Game

first_img2016 – Matt Ammendola – 63.31 avg / 48.57 TB%2015 – Ben Grogan – 60.09 avg / 23.91 TB%2014 – Kip Smith – 59.24 avg / 20.00 TB%2013 – Kip Smith – 60.04 avg / 23.33 TB%2012 – Quinn Sharp – 62.92 avg / 69.61 TB%So while he hasn’t been perfect, Ammendola has been the best at getting the ball into the back of the end zone by far since cult hero Quinn Sharp left.This has allowed Ben Grogan to focus strictly on his place kicking duties. Here’s Mike Gundy on that.“Ben has done a really good job for us,” coach Mike Gundy said. “He’s stayed consistent. He’s had two significant surgeries and has rehabbed himself over the summers to come back and kick well. We took away the kickoff duties from him because we felt it stressed his body a little much, but he’s been very consistent for us. He’s level-headed and a guy we can trust.”Return IssuesOn the other side of the field, things haven’t been so great. OSU ranks 107th in the nation (8th in the Big 12) averaging just 18.74 yards per return on kickoffs. That’s the Cowboys’ lowest average since 2009 (18.52).Kickoff return duties have been mainly handled by Barry J. Sanders as well as splitting punt returns with Jalen McCleskey. Sanders averages a decent 21.58 yards per kickoff return and 15.50 per punt return but after a couple of exciting plays early in the season has been ho-hum. Mostly it’s been just fair catch after fair catch.The Cowboys haven’t had a game-changer in the return game since Tyreek Hill. In 2014, Hill returned two kickoffs and a punt for scores. The last two seasons? Jalen McCleskey’s punt return touchdown at Texas Tech. That’s it.So while the kickoffs have been better, the other side of it has been worse. Hopefully the two can come together over the final two games as OSU goes for its second Big 12 title in the last six seasons. The kickoff.It’s a part of the game that amounts to an afterthought for most of us. A time for you to make one last run to the fridge before the real action starts.But don’t tell that to Mike Gundy.Special teams has always been a priority for him as a coach, often making a point to be hands-on in that phase while sitting back in more of a “CEO” mentality on offense and defense.Gundy has spoken repeatedly about the importance of special teams.“We’ve talked about today’s football, in our opinion, is the offense being able to get big plays; trying to find a way to establish some sort of a run; control the ball as best you can; be sound in special teams; try to get one big play in special teams; and defensively, try to force turnovers,” he said after Game 1.The Cowboys have shown marked improvement on their kickoffs this season, partially due to freshman Matt Ammendola who Mike Gundy has given the nickname “Philly.”Last season the Cowboys ranked 96th in the nation (6th in the Big 12) in opponent kickoff returns, allowing 23.01 yards on average. But this year they rank 17th in the nation (1st in the Big 12), only allowing 17.95 yards per return.Another big improvement? Fewer returns.You can thank “Philly’s” big leg for that. Ammendola ranks fifth in the Big 12 in kickoff yardage at 63.31 and fifth in touchback percentage at 48.57 percent. That may not seem staggering but if you look at the Cowboys’ kickoffs the last couple years you’ll see the difference.Here are the Cowboys who handled the majority of kick-off duties over the last few years. While you’re here, we’d like you to consider subscribing to Pistols Firing and becoming a PFB+ member. It’s a big ask from us to you, but it also comes with a load of benefits like ad-free browsing (ads stink!), access to our premium room in The Chamber and monthly giveaways.The other thing it does is help stabilize our business into the future. As it turns out, sending folks on the road to cover games and provide 24/7 Pokes coverage like the excellent article you just read costs money. Because of our subscribers, we’ve been able to improve our work and provide the best OSU news and community anywhere online. Help us keep that up.last_img read more

Cowboys Finish No. 11 in Final AP Poll

first_imgDon’t look now, but Oklahoma State just posted its second-highest final Associated Press Top 25 ranking under Mike Gundy. The Pokes checked in at No. 11 as the final AP Poll was released after the national championship game on Monday evening.USC at No. 3 is pretty ambitious, though I’m not sure who else I would have there. I might rank Clemson and Alabama at Nos. 3 and 4 again and put SC at No. 5. Oklahoma ahead of Ohio State is humorous. Also, am I crazy for thinking Oklahoma State could beat Michigan and Wisconsin?This is actually just the second time a Mike Gundy-coached team has finished in the top 12 of the postseason AP Poll and just the 13th time in school history an OSU team has even finished ranked in the postseason AP Poll. That’s pretty incredible.What does it all mean? Well, it means the hype train has already pulled out of the station for 2017 and is barreling right for September 1 as Oklahoma State is an early top 10 team heading into a new year. While you’re here, we’d like you to consider subscribing to Pistols Firing and becoming a PFB+ member. It’s a big ask from us to you, but it also comes with a load of benefits like ad-free browsing (ads stink!), access to our premium room in The Chamber and monthly giveaways.The other thing it does is help stabilize our business into the future. As it turns out, sending folks on the road to cover games and provide 24/7 Pokes coverage like the excellent article you just read costs money. Because of our subscribers, we’ve been able to improve our work and provide the best OSU news and community anywhere online. Help us keep that up.last_img read more

Spring Preview: Linebacker Depth Allows OSU Versatility in Scheming

first_imgKey: SLB= “Star” Linebacker, MLB= “Mike” (strongside inside) Linebacker, WLB= “Will” (weakside inside) LinebackerKenneth Edison-McGruder moves over from safety where he earned a reputation for laying the wood on folks. He will serve the role of departed “star” linebacker of Jordan Burton.“As y’all know, I like to put my head in,” said Edison-McGruder recently. “So that’s not a big problem at all. I love the physicality.”Calvin Bundage should see a lot of reps at the star, as well. The former Edmond-Santa Fe star played early and often as a true freshman and showed that he’s also not afraid of contact. Senior Kirk Tucker has gotten most of his burn on special teams but should also have a role at the “star” position.Chad Whitener is the active leading tackler at OSU. The former walk-on transfer from Cal has become one of the leaders of the defense and was missed when he limited due to injury last season.Behind Whitener is last year’s NCJAA Defensive Player of the Year. If you haven’t already, get to know the name Patrick Macon because you should be hearing it a lot. At Arizona Western College, Macon was a one-man tackling machine. His 27.5 tackles for loss led the nation. That’s more than any Div. I player has had since 2014.After seeing significant time as a true freshman (including a big-time Bedlam performance), Justin Phillips redshirted in 2015. Since then, his role has continued on an upward trajectory. Gyasi Akem is a senior who has seen time both on defense and special teams but will be needed to contribute with a crucial two-deep linebacker rotation. Sophomore Kevin Henry also figures to factor in at the “Will” spot.Cowboy fans will get acquainted with several young guys during the spring game.Amen Ogbongbemiga comes off a redshirt year and will be looking to crack the rotation. Not only is he the second cousin of Emmanuel Ogbah, he was the No. 1 ranked middle linebacker from Canada two years ago.Devin Harper also redshirted in 2016 and was a jack of all trades in high school, lining up at defensive end, running back and even wide receiver. He even had 345-yard, four-touchdown performance at running back his senior year. Some guys can just make plays and he hopes to show that he’s one of those guys starting this spring.Brendan Vaughn was an early commit in the 2016 class and the only incoming high school signee. When OSU offered, he was flying under most schools’ radars. But after his OSU pledge and an impressive third-place showing at a Nike skills camp, Vaughn’s star began to rise. Now he will get to show off his 4.51-40 speed against Div. I competition for the first time. SLB1KENNETH EDISON-MCGRUDERJUNIOR One of the (if not the) biggest storylines coming out of the start of Oklahoma State’s spring camp was the revelation of some pretty significant roster shuffling on defense. The only cornerback with any starting experience is now a safety and an up-and-coming thumper at safety has been moved over to linebacker.That linebacker corps loses a couple of playmakers in Jordan Burton and Devante Averette. But there remains plenty of depth and a couple of new faces that should play a key role.For the offense, spring camp (and the spring game in particular) is a lot about sitting your veterans and letting the young guys show what they can do. Glenn Spencer’s crew doesn’t have that luxury. The Cowboys are going to continue to use the 3-3-5 defense they used down the stretch in 2016 and working to implement an entire second scheme is an undertaking, even with an entire offseason to prepare.That versatility in scheming is made possible because of the depth in the linebacker corps. The depth at the “star,” “Mike” and “Will” linebacker spots should shake out something like this.2017 Projection SLB2CALVIN BUNDAGESOPHOMORE WLB2GYASI AKEMSENIOR MLB2PATRICK MACONJUNIORcenter_img PLAYERCLASS MLB1CHAD WHITENERSENIOR (RS) WLB1JUSTIN PHILLIPSJUNIOR While you’re here, we’d like you to consider subscribing to Pistols Firing and becoming a PFB+ member. It’s a big ask from us to you, but it also comes with a load of benefits like ad-free browsing (ads stink!), access to our premium room in The Chamber and monthly giveaways.The other thing it does is help stabilize our business into the future. As it turns out, sending folks on the road to cover games and provide 24/7 Pokes coverage like the excellent article you just read costs money. Because of our subscribers, we’ve been able to improve our work and provide the best OSU news and community anywhere online. Help us keep that up.last_img read more

Vincent Taylor Says Call From Miami Was ‘Dream Come True’

first_imgTaylor was one of two Pokes drafted this year. The other was Chris Carson to Seattle. It’s the first time since …. 2012 …. OSU has had more than one player get taken in the same draft. Taylor noted that he has tried to shape his game after one of his now-teammates.It’s a blessing to be apart of @MiamiDolphins Organization ready to get to work! ??— Vincent Taylor (@BallOut_96) April 29, 2017“Growing up, I used to always tell myself, man, I like the way Ndamukong Suh plays,” Taylor told MiamiDolphins.com. “And I’m not just saying it because I just got drafted by Miami. I’ve been saying that. Every interview I did, who do you model your game after? Who do you look up to? Ndamukong Suh was always that guy I looked up to and for me to be able to be on the same team with him and just learn from him, I’m looking forward to see what God has in store for me and what I can learn from him.”Hey @MiamiDolphins fans, here’s a little preview of what you’re getting in Vincent Taylor. @BallOut_96 #NFLDraft #okstate pic.twitter.com/ePMMdXME6x— Cowboy Football (@CowboyFB) April 29, 2017 While you’re here, we’d like you to consider subscribing to Pistols Firing and becoming a PFB+ member. It’s a big ask from us to you, but it also comes with a load of benefits like ad-free browsing (ads stink!), access to our premium room in The Chamber and monthly giveaways.The other thing it does is help stabilize our business into the future. As it turns out, sending folks on the road to cover games and provide 24/7 Pokes coverage like the excellent article you just read costs money. Because of our subscribers, we’ve been able to improve our work and provide the best OSU news and community anywhere online. Help us keep that up. Vincent Taylor had his name called by the Miami Dolphins on Saturday in the 6th round of the 2017 NFL Draft. He said it was a world changer for him.“I’m very emotional,” Taylor told MiamiDolphins.com. “I told myself going through this whole process I don’t care where I go. My coaches told me, it’s not where you get drafted, whether you go first round or second round, what matters is what you do when you get that foot in that door. It was like a dream come true hearing my name called in the NFL draft.”? 4 blocked field goals last season ? pic.twitter.com/HbuPxo1tnO— Miami Dolphins (@MiamiDolphins) April 30, 2017last_img read more

Oklahoma State Kicks off Fall Camp on Sunday; Storylines, Dates, Schedule

first_imgWhile you’re here, we’d like you to consider subscribing to Pistols Firing and becoming a PFB+ member. It’s a big ask from us to you, but it also comes with a load of benefits like ad-free browsing (ads stink!), access to our premium room in The Chamber and monthly giveaways.The other thing it does is help stabilize our business into the future. As it turns out, sending folks on the road to cover games and provide 24/7 Pokes coverage like the excellent article you just read costs money. Because of our subscribers, we’ve been able to improve our work and provide the best OSU news and community anywhere online. Help us keep that up. The start of fall camp kicks off on Sunday evening for Oklahoma State—just hours after players are expected to report for training camp.We’ve gone through some key storylines to watch, players expected to benefit from the month-long lead-up to the first game, and freshmen who could make an early impact. Now it’s time to get this thing rolling with a primer detailing everything you need to know before camp kicks off.As we noted earlier this week, here are all the notable dates in August to put on the calendar for now, as well as three storylines to watch. We’ll have more details on key dates such as fan appreciation day as events approach.AdChoices广告Sunday, July 30Players report (afternoon)First practice in Stillwater (7:10)Wednesday, August 2Media availabilitySaturday, August 5Media availability (plus photo shoot)Wednesday, August 9Media availabilityWednesday, August 16Media availabilityFriday, August 25Media luncheonThursday, August 31First gameThree storylines to watch1. The backup quarterback competition; Cornelius or the field? Despite the hype surrounding Keondre Wudtee coming in last season, the Louisiana native hasn’t solidified himself as a backup to Mason Rudolph — now he has three weeks to do so. Lots of smart people consider walk-on Taylor Cornelius to be the frontrunner to land the back gig. But can redshirt freshman Wudtee or true frosh Jelani Woods unseat him?2. Will a true frosh backup Justice Hill? Freshman All-American running back Justice Hill will be the starter, health willing, but behind him is one giant Times New Roman question mark. Everyone has their opinion: J.D. King is a fan favorite, Chuba Hubbard has Cowboy fans drooling about his speed, and LD Brown is a sleeper pick after having been on campus a year. Redshirt frosh Ja’Ron Wilson also figures to be squarely in the mix. But Mike Yurcich isn’t saying a word just yet.“It’s kind of a teaser when you start camp, because you’re in pajamas,” Yurcich said earlier this week. “When practice becomes full pads and you start seeing the fur fly — you start seeing whose going to be physical, who can bounce off and make somebody miss, who can break a tackle and make tough yardage after contact .. that’s the fun part.”3. Which receivers separate themselves? If you were to tell me OSU has eight future NFL receivers on its current roster, I’d not dispute it. The Pokes have James Washington and Jalen McCleskey as preseason Biletnikoff candidates, Marcel Ateman as an all-conference red-zone target, Tyron Johnson as an all-hype player, and Tylan Wallace as one of the most highly touted freshman to arrive on campus since Dez Bryant.Washington will be WR1, but behind him there’s plenty of competition. Will Tyron Johnson jump up and become WR2? Will Marcel Ateman pick up where he left off pre-injury? Or will Jalen McCleskey take a step forward again in 2017 to backup Washington? Fall camp should provide plenty of answers to those questions.last_img read more

McTominay preferred to Pogba against Sevilla

first_imgUEFA Champions League Man Utd team news: Pogba named on the bench at Sevilla as McTominay starts Kris Voakes Manchester United Correspondent Last updated 1 year ago 02:35 22/2/2018 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(1) Paul Pogba Manchester United Getty Images UEFA Champions League Manchester United Paul Pogba Sevilla v Manchester United Sevilla The France international is reportedly unsettled at the Red Devils and only earns a place on the bench after recovering from a mysterious illness Paul Pogba has been named on the substitutes’ bench for Manchester United’s Champions League last-16 clash with Sevilla, with Scott McTominay starting in his place.The France international sat out United’s win over Huddersfield Town in the FA Cup with a mystery illness, with manager Jose Mourinho seemingly unconcerned over his absence . And while he has apparently made a full recovery from the complaint, he will be left on the bench come kick-off at the Sanchez Pizjuan. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Williams case shows Solskjaer isn’t holding Man Utd’s youngsters back – he’s protecting them Goalkeeper crisis! Walker to the rescue but City sweating on Ederson injury ahead of Liverpool clash Out of his depth! Emery on borrowed time after another abysmal Arsenal display Diving, tactical fouls & the emerging war of words between Guardiola & Klopp McTominay, 21, continues in the first team after making a positive impression in United’s 2-0 victory at the weekend.Romelu Lukaku, meanwhile, leads the line alongside Alexis Sanchez, with the front trio completed by Juan Mata rather than Anthony Martial.Pogba is reportedly unsettled at Old Trafford after being shifted to a more defensive role following the arrival of Alexis, and has been far from his best in recent weeks, with Mourinho leaving him on the bench for the recent league win over Huddersfield. That dip in form has in turn led to reports he has fallen out with Mourinho, and could leave the club for a second time this summer. Real Madrid are one of the clubs who have been linked with a bid for the midfielder, who moved to United in a then-world record £89.3 million move from Juventus in 2016.Sevilla: Rico, Navas, Lenglet, Mercado, Escudero, N’Zonzi, Vazquez, Sarabia, Banega, Correa, Muriel.Substitutes: Soria, Carico, Ben Yedder, Pizarro, Nolito, Roque Mesa, Sandro.Manchester United: De Gea; Valencia, Smalling, Lindelof, Young; Matic, Herrera, McTominay; Alexis, Lukaku, Mata. Substitutes: Romero, Bailly, Darmian, Pogba, Lingard, Martial, Rashford.last_img read more

Ospina to start Carabao Cup final

first_imgArsenal Ospina to get Wembley nod as Wenger waits on Ramsey Dom Farrell 07:25 22/2/2018 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(0) Arsenal UEFA Europa League Arsenal v Östersunds FK Arsenal v Manchester City Östersunds FK Manchester City League Cup Arsène Wenger Mesut Özil Arsene Wenger will retain the Colombian for Arsenal’s Europa League clash with Ostersunds and the upcoming final against the Citizens David Ospina will start Sunday’s Carabao Cup final against Manchester City but Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is waiting on the fitness of influential midfielder Aaron Ramsey and Mesut Ozil.Colombia international Ospina has been Arsenal’s regular goalkeeper in cup competitions since Petr Cech’s arrival from Chelsea in 2015, and Wenger insisted there is no temptation to select the veteran Czech with silverware on the line.Speaking at a news conference ahead of Thursday’s Europa League match at home to Ostersunds, where Arsenal carry at 3-0 lead over from the first leg, Wenger confirmed Ospina would be his first choice for both matches this week. Editors’ Picks Williams case shows Solskjaer isn’t holding Man Utd’s youngsters back – he’s protecting them Goalkeeper crisis! Walker to the rescue but City sweating on Ederson injury ahead of Liverpool clash Out of his depth! Emery on borrowed time after another abysmal Arsenal display Diving, tactical fouls & the emerging war of words between Guardiola & Klopp “It’s always a difficult decision but I think we are clear about that since the start of the season,” he said.”[Ospina] played in the whole competition.”I have two world class goalkeepers and I decided from the start to have clarity in the way we play and I will continue that.”Ramsey has proved a Wembley specialist for the Gunners, scoring the winnings goals in the 2014 and 2017 FA Cup finals against Hull City and Chelsea respectively.The Wales international is back in training but faces a race against time to fully overcome a groin problem and face City, although Wenger is more confident Ozil will overcome the effects of a bout of illness.”He [Ramsey] is not in the squad tomorrow. He had a good training session but he is a bit short for tomorrow,” said the Gunners boss.”We’ll see how his evolution goes now from today until Sunday. I don’t rule him out yet. It depends how well he can improve his intensity of training until Sunday.”On Ozil, Wenger added: “Mesut [has been] sick until today. He was in bed Monday, Tuesday for sickness.The manager says @D_Ospina1 will start in #AFCvOST and in the @Carabao_Cup final pic.twitter.com/LbBqwIEBR6— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) February 21, 2018″I would certainly have played him but because he was sick he will have to work hard tomorrow and will not be involved in the game. He should be okay for Sunday.”Wenger will be without record signing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for the rest of the Europa League campaign due to the former Borussia Dortmund striker being cup-tied and Henrikh Mkhitaryan for the same reason at Wembley. Wenger on @HenrikhMkh: “He will play tomorrow” #AFCvOST pic.twitter.com/kzYe2ImAZz— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) February 21, 2018Asked whether the rule should be re-examined, Wenger suggested there is a groundswell of support among European clubs to confine it to the dust bin.”It will be, I think,” he said. “There is a swathe underneath with all the clubs who fight against that now.”In the middle of the season to be frustrated like that doesn’t look right. When you look at the amount of money that is in involved now with the transfers, it is very difficult to defend.”Everybody in Europe want this rule to be changed.”last_img read more

Injured Wilshere misses out on Man City clash

first_imgPremier League Arsenal team news: Injured Wilshere misses out on Man City clash Goal Last updated 1 year ago 03:04 2/3/2018 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments() Jack Wilshere Arsenal Getty Images Premier League Arsenal Arsenal v Manchester City Manchester City The midfielder is suffering from an ankle problem and will be absent on Thursday for the Gunners Jack Wilshere misses out for Arsenal as the Gunners seek Carabao Cup revenge on Manchester City at the Emirates Stadium.Arsenal confirmed that the midfielder had suffered a “slight ankle knock” and will not take part in Thursday’s Premier League clash. Granit Xhaka and Aaron Ramsey are therefore tasked with anchoring the middle of the park, with a trio made up of Mesut Ozil, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Danny Welbeck supporting Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang up front.  Article continues below Editors’ Picks Williams case shows Solskjaer isn’t holding Man Utd’s youngsters back – he’s protecting them Goalkeeper crisis! Walker to the rescue but City sweating on Ederson injury ahead of Liverpool clash Out of his depth! Emery on borrowed time after another abysmal Arsenal display Diving, tactical fouls & the emerging war of words between Guardiola & Klopp The Gunners are otherwise near full strength, with Laurent Koscielny and Shkodran Mustafi aiming to stop one of the league’s most potent attacks in the middle of defence at the Emirates. Gabriel Jesus, meanwhile, continues his encouraging return from injury with a place on the bench in Pep Guardiola’s 100th City game. The newly crowned Carabao Cup champions, who smashed Arsenal 3-0 on Sunday to win the trophy, will hope the likes of Sergio Aguero, Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva offer repeats of the weekend’s heroics as they seek to tighten their grip on the Premier League summit.Arsenal: Cech, Bellerin, Koscielny, Mustafi, Kolasinac, Xhaka, Ramsey, Ozil, Mkhitaryan, Welbeck, Aubameyang.Substitutes: Ospina, Holding, Chambers, Maitland-Niles, Elneny, Iwobi, Nketiah.Manchester City: Ederson, Walker, Kompany, Otamendi, Danilo, Gündogan, Silva, De Bruyne, Bernardo, Sané, Agüero.Substitutes: Bravo, Stones, Laporte, Zinchenko, Yaya Touré, Foden, Gabriel Jesus. Check out Goal’s Premier League 2019-20 fantasy football podcast for game tips, debate and rivalries.last_img read more

No Sauerbrunn, no problem for USWNT

first_imgUnited States No Sauerbrunn, no problem: Three thoughts on the USWNT’s win over Germany Thomas Floyd @thomasfloyd10 Last updated 1 year ago 11:15 2/3/2018 FacebookTwitterRedditcopy Comments(0) Tierna Davidson USWNT Kent Horner United States SheBelieves Cup Germany United States v Germany Opinion The inexperienced duo of Abby Dahlkemper and Tierna Davidson got the job done in central defense as the U.S. opened the SheBelieves Cup with a 1-0 win When U.S. national team coach Jill Ellis pencils in her lineup for a given game, it’s become safe to say Becky Sauerbrunn is typically the first name on that sheet.The statistics back up that notion: Sauerbrunn started all 16 matches the U.S. played in 2017, captaining the squad on six occasions. But you don’t need numbers to understand Sauerbrunn’s influence in central defense as an organizational presence, builder out of the back and master of the last-ditch tackle. Simply put, she’s indispensable.Sauerbrunn is so ever-present, in fact, that it has proven difficult for younger center backs to break through. While Abby Dahlkemper burst onto the scene to establish herself as Sauerbrunn’s first-choice partner in the second half of 2017, the options past those two have looked perilously thin. Editors’ Picks Williams case shows Solskjaer isn’t holding Man Utd’s youngsters back – he’s protecting them Goalkeeper crisis! Walker to the rescue but City sweating on Ederson injury ahead of Liverpool clash Out of his depth! Emery on borrowed time after another abysmal Arsenal display Diving, tactical fouls & the emerging war of words between Guardiola & Klopp So when Sauerbrunn was omitted from Ellis’ squad for the SheBelieves Cup with a foot injury, the opportunity to test some new blood against top opposition emerged as a silver lining. As the top-ranked U.S. side opened the round-robin tournament against No. 2 Germany on Thursday in Columbus, Ohio, Ellis handed 19-year-old Tierna Davidson the assignment of starting alongside Dahlkemper in central defense.If the Stanford defender carried any shred of intimidation, she did well to hide it in a 1-0 U.S. win. Davidson played with poise beyond her years, holding her own in the back while moving the ball efficiently and making timely interventions when called upon. She may only have two caps, but Davidson appears to have already passed Emily Sonnett as the third center back on Ellis’ depth chart.Dahlkemper, meanwhile, was impressive in her own right. The 24-year-old misplayed one defensive header in the early stages, setting up a Germany opportunity, but eventually settled into the match. She saved a sure goal with a well-read interception at the near post in the 25th minute, and generally showed she can be trusted to manage the back line without Sauerbrunn as world-class safety blanket.Sauerbrunn’s eventual return to the lineup will of course be embraced. But U.S. fans can take solace in seeing the inexperienced duo of Dahlkemper and Davidson shut down one of the world’s most lethal attacks.Here are two more thoughts from the Americans’ SheBelieves Cup opener:Rapinoe and Pugh shine out wideMegan Rapinoe Lindsey Horan Alex Morgan USWNT GermanyThings @mPinoe just did: THATThe #USWNT strikes first in its #SheBelievesCup 2018 opener! pic.twitter.com/x0YnuVMh93— U.S. Soccer WNT (@ussoccer_wnt) March 2, 2018The U.S. Soccer Female Player of the Year in 2016, Tobin Heath earned just four caps in 2016 because of a back injury. Now the crafty playmaker is sidelined another 8 to 12 weeks after undergoing ankle surgery.While a fit and in-form Heath is one of the most dangerous players the game has to offer, the U.S. has gotten used to life without her services. Since last summer, that has typically meant seeing Megan Rapinoe on the left flank and Mallory Pugh on the right.After Pugh scored twice in a 5-1 win over Denmark in January to kick off 2018, it was Rapinoe who netted the lone goal Thursday. Connecting with a flick-on header from Alex Morgan, the 32-year-old slipped behind the Germany back line and buried the finish.The wingers caused problems for Germany throughout the night, as Pugh kept defenders guessing with her pace and control while Rapinoe offered her usual creative flair. Both players pressed with vigor as well, forcing the Germans into dangerous giveaways or careless long balls.So where does Heath fit in once she returns? It’s tough to see Ellis sitting Rapinoe or Pugh at this point, so perhaps Heath slots into central midfield or plays left back, like she did at times in the 2016 Olympics. Whatever happens, Ellis now finds herself with an enviable lineup quandary.Quiet night for LloydCarli Lloyd Dzsenifer Marozsan USWNT GermanyNow 35 years old and coming off a down year for club and country, Carli Lloyd is at a crossroads. She remains passionate about representing her country at the 2019 World Cup and 2020 Olympics, but it seems increasingly likely she’ll do so in a secondary role.Making her first start since Aug. 3, Lloyd went 65 minutes in attacking midfield Thursday before giving way to Morgan Brian. She showed flashes of brilliance, including a 54th-minute through ball to Alex Morgan that drew a foul on the edge of the box. But she couldn’t convert a couple chances that fell her way in what amounted to a quiet evening.With Julie Ertz locked in at the base of Ellis’ midfield trio, competition for the two advanced midfield spots is stiff. Samantha Mewis, an automatic starter in 2017, and Rose Lavelle missed on the SheBelieves Cup because of lingering injuries, and that still leaves Lindsey Horan, Savannah McCaskill, Allie Long and Brian to scrap with Lloyd for minutes.Don’t count out Lloyd for a starting spot. That said, she certainly has her work cut out.last_img read more

Brennan Presley Commits to Oklahoma State

first_imgWhile you’re here, we’d like you to consider subscribing to Pistols Firing and becoming a PFB+ member. It’s a big ask from us to you, but it also comes with a load of benefits like ad-free browsing (ads stink!), access to our premium room in The Chamber and monthly giveaways.The other thing it does is help stabilize our business into the future. As it turns out, sending folks on the road to cover games and provide 24/7 Pokes coverage like the excellent article you just read costs money. Because of our subscribers, we’ve been able to improve our work and provide the best OSU news and community anywhere online. Help us keep that up. Oklahoma State coaches hauled in an impressive catch on Monday when 2020 Bixby wideout Brennan Presley announced his pledge via Twitter.Committed!!🍊🔫 pic.twitter.com/7nLRczWlV6— Brennan Presley (@bprezzle) July 15, 2019Speaking of impressive catches, Presley recently set the interwebs ablaze when he reeled in an OBJ-like one-hander at Northwest Arkansas Southwest Elite 7-on-7 Showcase.Shades of OBJ 😱 #SCtop10(via @JoshSmith918) pic.twitter.com/s0l8V66wYB— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) July 12, 2019Presley is currently ranked as the No. 10 player in the state of Oklahoma by 247Sports but has yet to receive a composite ranking by the service. 247 lists him as a three-star prospect.Presley is a 5-foot-7, 160-pound athlete who plays both wide receiver and cornerback for Bixby High.Oklahoma State was the first Power 5 school to offer, but expect Presley’s star to rise if he continues to make plays like that.last_img read more