Comments CLEMSON, S.C. — Syracuse (4-1, 1-1 Atlantic Coast) folded late against then-No. 3 Clemson (5-0, 2-0) on Saturday, losing 27-23, despite leading for most of the game.The Orange gave the Tigers a scare behind a solid pass rush and strong wide receiver play but were ultimately hamstrung by their inability to stop the run.Here are this week’s risers and fallers. Stock up Kendall ColemanAdvertisementThis is placeholder textColeman was Syracuse’s most dominant defensive player Saturday, and that was reflected in his final stat line. Coleman recorded two sacks for 19 yards, notched seven total tackles and disrupted the Tigers’ offense.At the time, Coleman’s second sack seemed game-altering. Syracuse punted on its previous drive. Clemson trailed 23-20 with less than nine minutes to play. On third and seven from his own 40, Tigers backup quarterback Chase Brice dropped back.Coleman burst off the left edge, beating left tackle Mitch Hyatt. At first, Coleman barely had a hold of Brice, and it seemed like the quarterback might slip the tackle. Instead, Coleman wrestled Brice down for a nine-yard loss.Both Coleman and Alton Robinson have been playing at a high level recently, as SU’s defensive line is hitting its stride.Turnovers Syracuse had three more takeaways on Saturday, recovering two fumbles and snagging an interception.The first fumble came on Clemson’s second offensive play, as Tigers quarterback Trevor Lawrence tried to pull the ball away from running back Travis Etienne late on a read option. The ball hit the turf, and Alton Robinson scooped it up.After Lawrence left the game, backup quarterback Chase Brice badly overthrew a receiver. Trill Williams made his first collegiate interception on the play, toeing the sideline.But the most important turnover was Amari Rodgers’ muffed punt at his own 10-yard line. Jamal Custis recovered, and Syracuse punched in its second touchdown.Through five games, Syracuse has forced 12 turnovers, eight more than last season.Wide receivers From Taj Harris’ 51-yard bomb to Jamal Custis snatching the ball from between two defenders, Syracuse’s receivers came to play Saturday.Five receivers caught passes for the Orange. Each of those players caught at least two, and Custis and Devin Butler paced the group with five catches apiece and 73 and 45 yards, respectively.Harris hauled in the catch of the game, though. Syracuse needed five yards to convert a third down from its own 35. Instead of taking something underneath, Dungey spotted Harris slipping open behind his man.Dungey lofted it up for Harris, who stuck out his hands, bobbled the ball, and secured the 51-yard catch that set up Syracuse’s first touchdown.Stock down Health After the game, senior defensive back Antwan Cordy and senior long snapper Matt Keller were seen leaving the locker room in with their arms in slings. Keller’s was on his right arm.It’s unclear when Cordy got hurt or what his injury is. Regardless, if the senior is out for any significant time, it will be a massive blow to the Orange’s secondary. Cordy has slotted in as a nickelback through five games this season as part of the Orange’s new 4-2-5 base defense.Keller appeared to have gotten hurt on Syracuse’s final special teams play, a punt. Television cameras showed the senior long snapper visibly upset on the sideline. His injury is also currently unknown.Behind Keller on the depth chart is long snapper Aaron Bolinsky. Likely candidates to fill in for Cordy include Williams and Ifeatu Melifonwu, two freshmen who received notable playing time Saturday. Linebackers Etienne ran wild on Syracuse on Saturday, mostly due to lapses from the linebackers.On Etienne’s first touchdown, a 26-yard run to the right side, linebacker Ryan Guthrie hesitated and fell behind the play. Forced to take a bad angle, he came up with air as he dove at Etienne’s ankles.When Etienne slid into the end zone to put the Tigers up with less than a minute left, Kielan Whitner and Guthrie were caught up with the defensive line, failing to set an edge.All game, Etienne and Clemson’s rushers consistently got through to the second level of Syracuse’s defense because a linebacker was out of position.Running backs Syracuse’s running backs combined to carry the ball 11 times for 28 yards, a paltry 2.5 yards a carry.The early game plan was to attack the edges, where SU identified open spaces in Clemson’s defense. But SU went about that by utilizing Sean Riley on sweeps. He finished with two carries for 24 yards.Instead, the running backs took on the unenviable task of challenging the vaunted Tigers’ defensive line straight on. It didn’t go well.Syracuse entered the game averaging more than 250 rushing yards per game. The Orange netted 61 on Saturday. After the game, a reporter asked Dino Babers if he was happy with the way his team ran the football.“No,” he said. Published on September 30, 2018 at 11:03 pm Contact Andrew: firstname.lastname@example.org | @A_E_Graham Facebook Twitter Google+
Here’s an effort to ground that conversation, to take a look at the biggest factors that will guide the discussion when general managers and owners meet at the end of the week (Thursday and Friday, respectively, according to ESPN), with a quick look at why certain models are being considered in addition to the good ol’ fashioned playoffs:NUMBER OF GAMESNothing is motivating the league to return quite like money. With salaries to pay and television partners to satisfy, there’s a lot of motivation to recoup some of the losses of a double-whammy of the pandemic and the China dust-up during the preseason. From a bottom line standpoint, more games are better.A straight-to-playoffs format is the most straightforward and familiar, but it also is the option with the fewest number of teams and games. Many teams are hopeful to fulfill local television contracts that can add to their revenue, and in that sense, every game matters. Even at the player level, someone like Jared Dudley understands that when he pointed out that he was reasonably sure the NBA would play full seven-game series.That’s one reason why Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has publicly endorsed a model of bringing back all 30 teams for a play-in tournament. On its face, that seems too logistically challenging to actually pull off, but ESPN has reported other teams are advocating for fields of 20 or 24 teams in either a group stage or a play-in format. Inviting more teams to play in Orlando could draw in more investment from fanbases like Portland or San Antonio or Chicago, getting more regional interest, more stars and perhaps also send a message of a unified front for the NBA. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error The idea behind bringing more teams is to say it’s not just “Playoffs are back,” but rather “The NBA is back.” It probably matters that the NHL just expanded its own playoffs to 24 teams whenever it plans to return — that’s probably a plan the NBA will watch closely.ENTERTAINMENT VALUEAdam Silver has long teased at tinkering with the NBA format, including shortening seasons, playing an in-season tournament and maybe even adjusting the playoffs. When is a better time to experiment than when the entire league has been tossed upside down?That’s why a format like World Cup-style group play is being discussed: The league could have an opportunity to do something different and see how people respond. Late-season regular season games are normally a yawn-fest with a lot of stars on the bench and 10-day contract players getting a lot of run. First-round series are also sometimes predictably dull (although the “I Believe” Warriors might argue with that). So if there is a format where a group stage — with Round Robin groups that could help determine playoff seeding and add drama, could now be the time to experiment?It’s worth remembering that fans are unlikely to be in the stands for these games, so they’ll have to be spicy on the court without the backdrop of epic home environments. The TV part of it might look like a pickup gym session on the court. The NBA also has the threat of players such as Bradley Beal or Damian Lillard threatening to sit out if their teams have games but aren’t in contention for a playoff spot — it wouldn’t be a good look for the first games back from the pandemic. The NBA has marketing reasons to keep those stars (and burgeoning phenom Zion Williamson) in the mix to possibly make the postseason.FAIR PLAYThis is a Lakers-centric newsletter, and it’s here where it merits pointing out that the Lakers have a lot to lose by entertaining change. They’ve earned a No. 1 seed in the West if no other regular season games are played — why would they want to risk that seeding in any of the play-in or group stage scenario where a few bad games (or heaven forbid a positive COVID-19 test) could have them stumbling to a lower seed. They might benefit from a proposal to seed 1 through 16 regardless of conference, potentially clearing their path from some of the more threatening Western Conference teams, but that’s probably something the Milwaukee Bucks would object to after clearing a top seed in the East and not wanting to face the Clippers and Lakers in the same postseason.The concept of fairness is where things get really knotty for changing the format. For example, why should Memphis, the leader for the West’s eight seed, be punished by having to fight in play-in games when it has a 3.5-game advantage on the field? For that matter, why should more competitive teams like Dallas or Houston have to be staring down the possibility that they might have to battle 26-win Phoenix for a playoff spot when almost 80 percent of the season has been played out and those teams have 14 more wins?It could get a little fiery in the coming weeks as teams with a better body of work so far strive to preserve what they’ve already done in the season, but struggling teams (and perhaps the league at large) fights to be more inclusive, to make a bigger splash with their return with more teams and more games. Novelty is a factor that could increase entertainment value, but the downside is it could harm legitimacy. Several reports cite that some executives believe the NBA diverging too far from their regular format could create an “asterisk” on the eventual champion. As much as the NBA wants a good TV product, the league’s integrity is also really important.SCHEDULINGAs problematic as this season has been to resume, next season will be tricky as well. The league is hopeful that it can approach something close to a normal season next year, but with this season potentially stretching into September and maybe even October, totally normal just isn’t possible.The NBA could be robbing Peter to pay Paul in the sense that being overly committed to finishing this season puts them behind the eight ball next season. Some NBA executives have been more willing to push back the start of next season in part because no one knows when fans can attend games in arenas again, and in that sense starting later is likely better. But instead of having just one catastrophically afflicted season, the NBA could push their way into two if the playoff format they decide on plays out for a long time, or if it is delayed by health and safety concerns. As one NBA executive told SCNG: “We have just as many problems next year, and we have to figure those out, too.”SAFETYObviously nothing can proceed unless the NBA does this in a safe fashion. That’s why discussions have seemingly migrated toward resuming the season at one site in Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort (which The Athletic points out should be a huge advertisement for Disney in and of itself). Limiting travel, outside interactions with other people and having control over a privately owned area should help mitigate at least some of the most serious risks of COVID-19. A related issue is obviously the fewer teams that travel to Disney World, the lower the risk of COVID cases cropping up.One of the NBA’s baseline rules is that players need to be tested consistently before competition. They’ve been advised on that front by several epidemiologists, including Vivek Murphy, a former surgeon general of the United States. That will be logistically challenging given that testing is still relatively scarce throughout the country, takes days to process and can produce unreliable results. This is one of the biggest barriers to resuming play, and probably a reason why the NBA hasn’t yet officially confirmed it will return.One of the most important decisions the NBA and NBPA have to make is whether the single site will be a closed “bubble” or an open area where players can come and go. Contractually, both parties seem to be leaning toward the latter, with the strong implication that players should stay in place if they can. Yahoo Sports spoke to several medical experts about the importance of quarantining and staying in a bubble. While the NBA may not be able to forcibly confine players to quarantined areas, players need to recognize the monumental risk of COVID-19 cases shutting down the season again, this time for good.If balancing all these interests between 30 owners and the players’ association while also trying to obey government guidelines and medical suggestions seems terribly complicated, it is. That’s why we’re still waiting for direction from the NBA, which feels the wind at its back, but still needs to decide which way to steer the ship.— Kyle GoonEditor’s note: Thanks for reading the Purple & Bold Lakers newsletter. To receive the newsletter in your inbox, sign up here.More readingThe latest on Operation: Disney Drop – The NBA publicly acknowledged it is in discussions to resume at Disney World.Is it a bubble or not? – Jared Dudley chimed in on his vision for the playoffs, as well as what it’s like going to the Lakers’ facility these days.A different Michael and LeBron discussion – I took a moment to reflect on how unusual watching “The Last Dance” must have been for James in the midst of a stalled season.Jeanie Buss opens up – The Lakers’ owner was candid on a podcast about Kobe Bryant, the Anthony Davis trade and more.Keep up with COVID – An autopsy report shows no signs of drugs or alcohol in the pilot who flew Kobe and Gigi Bryant in the fatal crash. Editor’s note: This is the Tuesday, May 26 edition of the Purple & Bold Lakers newsletter. To receive the newsletter in your inbox, sign up here.For a time, it seemed like the NBA was hibernating. There was little but mere speculation and anxiety leaking from the league offices in New York as the country waited for more news on the unfolding coronavirus — it wasn’t a matter of “when,” it was “if.”But in the last week, as the NBA’s sails filled with momentum to return to play at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, the rumors have picked up as well about just how the league will make its triumphant return: World Cup-style group play stages to determine who makes the playoffs? a 1 through 16 seeded bracket that disregards conferences? a play-in tournament involving anywhere from 20 total teams to all 30 (including the mathematically eliminated Warriors and Timberwolves)?This is predictably hard to track for fans, media and players. One league executive told Southern California News Group that rumors for the NBA’s proposed formats are as hard to gauge as ever: Which ones really need to be taken seriously?