It's a trap? Irish looking to avoid letdown vs. BYU

919025.png

It's a trap? Irish looking to avoid letdown vs. BYU

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- "Trap" games are all too real a phenomenon in college football. West Virginia fell into one last week, with its powerful offense being stymied by an underrated Texas Tech defense. That's just one example, though. There are sure to be plenty more in the next month and a half.
Notre Dame doesn't want to be one of them.
But with a showdown in Oklahoma that carries serious BCS implications looming next weekend, if the Irish start looking ahead that could be the case.
"Why does that happen? Well, you forget how you got here," coach Brian Kelly said. They are trap games if you forget how to go to work ask do those things. We've already talked about it with our team, and we'll make sure that we do everything to prepare the right way."
BYU has the profile of a classic "trap" team, one that's only 4-3 but has had plenty of defensive success this year. That changed last week, as Oregon State hung 42 in Provo. But by Football Outsiders' defensive S&P rankings (explained here), BYU still has a top-10 defense fueled by a run defense that's only allowing 67.9 yards on the ground per game.
Given that Notre Dame's rushing attack has been the strong suit of its offense this year, that could play right into BYU's hands. If Cierre Wood, Theo Riddick and George Atkinson III are neutralized, it'll put the pressure on whoever's starting at quarterback, be it Tommy Rees, Everett Golson or even Andrew Hendrix. Kelly will announce the starter before Saturday's game, but whoever it is may need to power Notre Dame's offense.
The mantra this week in South Bend was all about BYU, and how the players will focus on Oklahoma next week. Senior captain Manti Te'o is leading that charge, and feels the experience Notre Dame possesses will keep the team's focus on this weekend.
"I think it's only a trap game if you're dealing with a young team, a team that is not focused on one singular goal, and that's to take that day by day, week by week," Te'o said. "So our team has done a great job of just focusing on the next opponent. We don't have Oklahoma this week. We don't have Stanford, we already played Stanford. Right now it's BYU, and that's all we're focused on.
"Until Sunday comes, you know, we'll stop focusing on BYU. Until then, it's all BYU."
A win over BYU would likely secure a BCS berth for Notre Dame, unless an unexpected slip-up happens against the likes of Pittsburgh, Boston College or Wake Forest -- three teams the Irish should easily beat. Even if Notre Dame loses at Oklahoma and USC, they'd have 10 wins. And it's unlikely a BCS bowl would pass at the opportunity to take Notre Dame, an option those committees haven't had in six years.
That's a big picture view, and it's one the team isn't taking.
"We don't have a list of goals that says, hey, we want to go to the Sugar Bowl, we want to go to the Fiesta Bowl, we want to win the National Championship. We don't have any of those goals," Kelly explained. "They are not written down. You won't see them anywhere. They are not in our locker room.
"All you'll really hear us talk about are the goals as it relates to playing the game, and if you hit these goals, you've got a great chance to win and then how do you get there and so that's how we deal with it on a daytoday basis."

Starters help White Sox bullpen maintain health for lengthy stretch

johnson_game_2_post_05-23_640x360_691508803679.jpg

Starters help White Sox bullpen maintain health for lengthy stretch

The White Sox are at another point in their schedule where every inning is precious.

So even though they only managed a split in Monday’s doubleheader against the Cleveland Indians, the White Sox have to feel good not to have taxed their bullpen.

Mat Latos and Erik Johnson combined for 12.1 innings pitched and five relievers combined for another 5.1 on Monday for the White Sox, who are in the midst of a stretch of 17 games in 16 days. Given they have Chris Sale and Jose Quintana scheduled the next two games, the White Sox feel pretty fortunate at the midway point of their lengthy run.

“We didn’t really abuse anybody,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “These doubleheaders can kind of get away from you and both sides probably had that. You get out of these things without having to use anybody in both games and extending anybody.”

With the way things had recently gone for Latos and Johnson’s command issues in his last start, Monday’s doubleheader could have been trouble for the White Sox bullpen.

Latos hadn’t completed six innings since April 24 and posted a 7.84 ERA in his last four starts. And in his only major league start this season, Johnson allowed four earned runs in five innings against the Boston Red Sox on May 5.

Not only do the White Sox have two more here against the Indians, they start a four-game series in Kansas City on Thursday and then head to Citi Field for three against the New York Mets. Only then do they have another day off.

Johnson made two early mistakes, but mostly followed in the footsteps of Latos, who delivered six innings in the opening game before he departed with a 6-3 lead courtesy of a three-run homer by Brett Lawrie.

While Johnson left a 3-0 fastball up to Rajai Davis and he ripped it for a two-run homer, which put Cleveland up 3-1 in the fifth, he faced only five over the minimum through six innings.

“EJ did a good job for us, we just weren’t really getting anything going,” Ventura said.

Johnson — who was optioned to Triple-A Charlotte after the start — entered the seventh inning at 93 pitches. With his team trailing by two, Ventura hoped to steal another inning from his right-hander. The Indians took advantage as Juan Uribe homered and scored another run off the combination of Johnson and reliever Matt Purke, who allowed a hit in 2.1 scoreless innings.

“You want to help the team out and save the bullpen as best you can, especially on these nine and nines,” Johnson said. “That’s your job as a starter for a regular nine inning game, whether it’s a doubleheader or not.

“I’m thankful for the opportunities and if they keep coming I’m going to keep coming back here.”

For now, the opportunity belongs to reliever Tommy Kahnle, whom was added as the 26th man before the doubleheader. By optioning Johnson to Charlotte, the White Sox will employ an eight-man bullpen.

Preview: Cubs look to snap losing streak vs. Cardinals on CSN

cubs_pgl_hit_05-23_640x360_691482691886.jpg

Preview: Cubs look to snap losing streak vs. Cardinals on CSN

The Cubs look to snap a three-game losing streak against the St. Louis Cardinals tonight, and you can catch all the action on Comcast SportsNet. Coverage begins with Cubs Pregame Live at 5:30 p.m. Then catch first pitch with Len Kasper and Jim Deshaies. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on Cubs Postgame Live.

Today’s starting pitching matchup: Jason Hammel (5-1, 2.31 ERA) vs. Michael Wacha (2-4, 4.03 ERA)

Click here for a game preview to make sure you’re ready for the action.  

[SHOP CUBS: Get your Cubs gear right here]

— Channel finder: Make sure you know where to watch.

— Latest on the Cubs: All of the most recent news and notes.

— See what fans are talking about before, during and after the game with Cubs Pulse.

Preview: Chris Sale targets 10th win as White Sox battle Indians on CSN+

ventura_game_2_post_05-23_640x360_691502147636.jpg

Preview: Chris Sale targets 10th win as White Sox battle Indians on CSN+

The White Sox continue their series with the Cleveland Indians tonight, and you can catch all the action on Comcast SportsNet Plus. Coverage begins with White Sox Pregame Live at 6:30 p.m. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on White Sox Postgame Live.

Tonight’s starting pitching matchup: Chris Sale (9-0, 1.58 ERA) vs. Josh Tomlin (6-0, 3.56 ERA)

Click here for a game preview to make sure you’re ready for the action.  

[SHOP WHITE SOX: Get your White Sox gear right here]

— Channel finder: Make sure you know where to watch.

— Latest on the White Sox: All of the most recent news and notes.

— See what fans are talking about before, during and after the game with White Sox Pulse.