[ {"id":"3cddca8a-9fc5-11e8-98f9-c36b522f8da8","type":"article","starttime":"1534345200","starttime_iso8601":"2018-08-15T10:00:00-05:00","sections":[{"iowa":"sports/college/big-10/iowa"},{"iowa":"sports/football/college/big-10/iowa"}],"application":"editorial","title":"Big Ten breakdown: Rutgers","url":"http://qctimes.com/sports/college/big-10/iowa/article_3cddca8a-9fc5-11e8-98f9-c36b522f8da8.html","permalink":"https://qctimes.com/sports/college/big-10/iowa/big-ten-breakdown-rutgers/article_3cddca8a-9fc5-11e8-98f9-c36b522f8da8.html","canonical":"https://qctimes.com/sports/college/big-10/iowa/big-ten-breakdown-rutgers/article_3cddca8a-9fc5-11e8-98f9-c36b522f8da8.html","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":1,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"prologue":"Big Ten breakdown: Rutgers Coach: Chris Ash, 6-18 entering third season at Rutgers and overall 2017 record: 4-8, 3-6 Big Ten (fifth, East Division) Offensive starters returning (7): OL Tariq Cole, OL Michael Maietti, OL Jonah Jackson, OL Kamaal Seymour, QB Gio Rescigno, TE Jerome Washington, WR Mohamed Jabbie","supportsComments":false,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["lb trevor morris","sport","american football","senior","tackle","starter","team","isaiah wharton","jonathan hilliman"],"internalKeywords":[],"customProperties":{},"presentation":null,"images":[{"id":"8af987a4-a2f5-5e5c-b30f-5ed16645ab80","description":"Illinois running back Ra'Von Bonner is tackled by Rutgers defensive lineman Kevin Wilkins during the fourth quarter a game at Memorial Stadium in Champaign in this file photo.\u00a0","byline":"AP","hireswidth":2870,"hiresheight":2104,"hiresurl":"https://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/8/af/8af987a4-a2f5-5e5c-b30f-5ed16645ab80/59ea7a54bc35e.hires.jpg","presentation":"","versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1681","height":"1232","url":"https://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/8/af/8af987a4-a2f5-5e5c-b30f-5ed16645ab80/59ea7a545c1c7.image.jpg?resize=1681%2C1232"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"73","url":"https://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/8/af/8af987a4-a2f5-5e5c-b30f-5ed16645ab80/59ea7a545c1c7.image.jpg?resize=100%2C73"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"220","url":"https://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/8/af/8af987a4-a2f5-5e5c-b30f-5ed16645ab80/59ea7a545c1c7.image.jpg?resize=300%2C220"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"750","url":"https://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/8/af/8af987a4-a2f5-5e5c-b30f-5ed16645ab80/59ea7a545c1c7.image.jpg?resize=1024%2C750"}}}],"revision":2,"commentID":"3cddca8a-9fc5-11e8-98f9-c36b522f8da8","body":"

Big Ten breakdown: Rutgers

Coach: Chris Ash, 6-18 entering third season at Rutgers and overall

2017 record: 4-8, 3-6 Big Ten (fifth, East Division)

Offensive starters returning (7): OL Tariq Cole, OL Michael Maietti, OL Jonah Jackson, OL Kamaal Seymour, QB Gio Rescigno, TE Jerome Washington, WR Mohamed Jabbie

Defensive starters returning (8): DL Kevin Wilkins, DL Jon Bateky, LB Trevor Morris, LB Deonte Roberts, DB Damon Hayes, DB Blessuan Austin, DB Isaiah Wharton, DB Saquon Hampton

Specialists returning (1): PK Justin Davidovicz

Returning statistical leaders: Rushing, Raheem Blackshear 39-238; Passing, Gio Rescigno 47-100-1-517-2; Receiving, Jerome Washington 28-282; Tackles, Trevor Morris 118; Interceptions, KJ Gray 2

Starring roles

Tariq Cole: Is the most experienced player among a group of three returning starters on the offensive line. The 6-foot-6, 320-pound senior tackle is the anchor of a group which includes improving depth and more experience than Rutgers has had to work with in recent seasons.

Jerome Washington: Among few brings spots at the skill positions in an offense which struggled last season. The senior tight end who transferred to Rutgers from Miami led the team with 28 receptions and will likely be a top target of whoever emerges in a quarterback battle between fifth-year senior Gio Rescigno and true freshman Artur Sitkowski.

Isaiah Wharton: In a lineup filled with change, the fifth-year senior has been a constant contributor for the Scarlet Knights. Wharton has started all 36 games in his career and is one of three returning senior starters in the Rutgers secondary. He broke up nine passes and had 40 tackles last season.

On the rise

Trevor Morris: Has shown improvement in consistency throughout his career and the senior linebacker is positioned to become just the third player in Rutgers history to record 100 or more tackles in three consecutive seasons. Morris finished with a team-leading 118 stops last season and joins returning senior starter Deonte Roberts in giving the Scarlet Knights experience in the middle of the defensive lineup.

Newbie

Jonathan Hilliman: A graduate transfer from Boston College, Hilliman rushed for 638 yards and seven touchdowns last season for the Golden Eagles. He is expected to split time in the backfield with sophomore Raheem Blackshear.

The big number

6: Plays from scrimmage Rutgers had that went for more than 40 yards a year ago, including two by returning running back Raheem Blackshear and one by returning receiver Bo Melton, both preparing for their sophomore seasons.

Coach speak

\u201cIn year three, it\u2019s about trying to build your team and have an opportunity to go to postseason play. Right now, we feel like we\u2019re on track to get that done. A lot of things have to be done to get to that point and reach that goal, but we have a lot of things to be excited about.\u2019\u2019 \u2013 Chris Ash, Rutgers coach

2018 schedule

Sept. 1 \u2013 Texas State

Sept 8 \u2013 at Ohio State*

Sept. 15 \u2013 at Kansas

Sept. 22 \u2013 Buffalo

Sept. 29 \u2013 Indiana*

Oct. 6 \u2013 Illinois

Oct. 13 \u2013 Maryland*

Oct. 20 \u2013 Northwestern

Nov. 3 \u2013 at Wisconsin

Nov. 10 \u2013 Michigan*

Nov. 17 \u2013 Penn State*

Nov. 24 \u2013 at Michigan State*

* -- East Division game

Numerology

Where Rutgers ranked in the Big Ten in 2017:

Scoring offense: 13.8 (13th)

Rushing offense: 131 (10th)

Passing offense: 95 (14th)

Totals offense: 227 (14th)

Scoring defense: 32.7 (11th)

Rushing defense: 212 (12th)

Passing defense: 221 (11th)

Total defense: 433 (13th)

Trends

The Scarlet Knights\u2019 record over the last five years:

2013: 6-7

2014: 8-5

2015: 4-8

2016: 2-10

2017: 4-8

Eye on Iowa

All-time series

Iowa 1, Rutgers 0

Record in the only game vs. the Hawkeyes:

2016: Iowa 14, Rutgers 7

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Unless you are Midland, we're just more than a week out from kicking off the 2018 high school football season in the Quad-Cities.

Midland is the only team in the Quad-City Times circulation area slated to play a Week 0 game. The Eagles welcome Lone Tree to Wyoming for the season opener Friday night in an eight-player contest.\u00a0

As for everybody else, it commences Thursday, Aug. 23 or Friday, Aug. 24.

The Thursday night game features Muscatine and Davenport Central at Brady Street Stadium. Yes, the new field turf will be ready as the crew had more than 30 yards of it installed as of Tuesday morning.\u00a0

I've received some emails in the past several days inquiring about season previews for each team.\u00a0

In recent years, we've featured one or two teams each day leading up to the opener. This year, we're packaging them all together in a 20-page high school football preview section scheduled to insert into the Thursday, Aug. 23 edition.\u00a0

It will include an article, capsule, schedule and photos for each of the 13 metro programs -- Assumption, Bettendorf, Clinton, Davenport Central, Davenport North, Davenport West, Muscatine, North Scott and Pleasant Valley along with Alleman, Moline, Rock Island and United Township. We'll also preview Ryan Streets' first season as Central DeWitt's head coach.\u00a0

The section also will entail an in-depth player profile from Bobby Metcalf on Orion senior and Iowa football recruit Logan Lee, a look at Wilton do-it-all quarterback Jerome Mays and a capsule on each of the area programs in eastern Iowa and western Illinois.

Starting early next week, we'll post a couple stories each day at QCVarsity to get you ready.

Also next week, I'll release my preseason football rankings for each classification in Iowa. We'll also take a deeper look at five quarterbacks in the Quad-Cities metro and surrounding area you need to keep an eye on this fall.\u00a0

Once again, we'll have our \"Friday Night Tweets\" up and rolling on Aug. 24. There are several intriguing games in Week 1 -- PV at Bettendorf; North Scott at Iowa City West; Assumption at Alleman; Davenport West at UT. We'll have them all covered.\u00a0

In the coming days and weeks, we'll also get you set for the volleyball, cross country and girls swim seasons in eastern Iowa. We'll also catch up on what has transpired in the opening week of the boys golf season.\u00a0

Sit back and enjoy the ride. Another season is upon us.

Matt Coss is the sports editor of the Quad-City Times. He can be reached at mcoss@qctimes.com or 563-383-2288.

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Q-C pitches third straight shutout

The Quad-Cities River Bandits pitching staff extended its scoreless innings streak to 30 on Tuesday in a 5-0 Midwest League victory in Cedar Rapids, the team's third straight shutout to close out a four-game home-and-home series with the Kernels.

Bryan Abreu moved to 4-0 with six scoreless innings, striking out 10 while allowing four hits and one walk. Humberto Castellanos and Hansel Paulino closed out the five-hit shutout victory, the Bandits' 16th shutout of the season.

The pitching staff got a boost offensively from Logan Mattix, Miguelangel Sierra and Colton Shaver. Mattix hit a two-run double in the second inning, Sierra hit a two-run homer in the fourth and Shaver added a solo shot in the sixth.

Clinton 5, Peoria 3: Keegan McGovern hit a go-ahead grand slam in the third inning and the LumberKings did not look back to earn a series split Tuesday at Dozer Park in Peoria.

The Chiefs used a pair of homers and an RBI double in the first and second innings to jump out to an early 3-0 lead.

Johnny Adams opened the bottom of the third with a single and after a pair of two-out walks McGovern delivered his slam to right field to give Clinton the lead.

Marvin Gorgas earned his sixth win with three scoreless innings of relief.

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ROCK ISLAND, Ill. \u2014 The message coach Steve Bell and his staff are giving to the Augustana football team is pretty simple: The time is now.

\u201cThis senior class is the one we brought in and said 'you are going to be the one that will be remembered for changing it around,'\u201d Bell said. \u201cThis is it. You don't get to do it again.\u201d

Despite three years of growing pains and struggles to an 8-22 record under Bell, the Vikings head into the 2018 season with a load of optimism. They return more than 20 guys in all three classes who have been a starter at one point in their careers (although many of those have come as the result of injuries that forced players into new roles). They have 45 returning lettermen.

And maybe more importantly, they have short memories with last year's 1-9 struggles put to bed.

\u201cWe all know what our past record was, but we don't need to harp on what happened last year,\u201d said Ryan Pitra, a senior running back out of Geneseo. \u201cWhat we need to do right now is focus on the present. Making sure we're doing everything we possibly can to be technically sound in camp.

\u201cAs far as attitude goes, the attitude has been great in camp and through the whole offseason really. People outside of the program are going to talk as much as they want about it, but we're just focusing on us, focusing on the present and focusing on getting the job done.\u201d

Bell, who has some new pieces on his coaching staff, is hoping things finally start trending in the right direction for the program that was at one point the measuring stick of NCAA Division III football.

With 14 seniors leading the way and 25 juniors helping, this could be a big year for the Vikings.

\u201cTheir job is to make this team the best that this team is capable of being,\u201d said Bell of the legacy that could be left by this group of seniors. \u201cEverybody else is going to judge that on did you win the CCIW, did you go to the national playoffs. They need to put Augustana football back to where it is competitive. Whatever that looks like, I can't attach a number to it. At the end of the day they will be able to walk off the graduation stage and go 'we put it in a much better place than where we got it.'\u201d

\u201cI think a successful season would be having a winning season,\u201d said Pitra. \u201cMe, personally, I think us seniors want to go out thinking we turned the program around and led it in the right direction. Be technically sound, disciplined and do it with a great attitude would be a success.\u201d

All those in camp feel as if there are a number of pieces in place to make that happen. Offensively, the Vikings have three capable quarterbacks in seniors Zach Fuller and Luke Bleyer along with sophomore Alek Jacobs. Bell made it sound as if the job belongs to Fuller, saying \u201che throws the ball at a different level.\u201d The job was his last year until an ankle injury ended his season and Bleyer and Jacobs split time after that.

Pitra and juniors Bobby Jarosz and Antonio Cannon are primed for big seasons in the backfield behind an offensive line that is deep, talented and now experienced after suffering through a number of injuries last season.

Whoever ends up at QB will have some nice receivers to target as Augie hopes to improve on its 18.3 points per game average. The Vikings return five of their top six receivers, including No. 1 receiver Ryan Hennessy. They also add explosive tight end Justin Pope back to the program after a year's absence.

\u201cWe've been a young team in the past, but now we finally have returners who have experience and are the veterans,\u201d said Pitra. \u201cIt feels good to be that experienced upperclass group.\u201d

The defense will also have a number of familiar faces returning, but will be operating under new defensive coordinator Dick Maloney. Eleven of the team's 14 top tacklers from last season return, knowing that they will have to improves on the 35.2 points per game average they allowed.

Room for improvement? You bet.

And that's what Bell is hoping to see to get the program trending upward.

\u201cI know where we need to be to know that it's going in the right direction,\u201d Bell said. \u201cOur guys know where it needs to be and they basically need to be who they should be.\u201d

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The future continues to look as bright as ever for the St. Ambrose football program.

In the last two years, new practice fields have been built, the weight lifting facilities have been renovated and this season began with the unveiling of a new building that houses the locker room and coaches offices.

The field turf at Brady Street Stadium is being replaced, which should bridge the gap until a new stadium is built.

The team is also sporting new uniforms and helmets, part of an agreement with Nike.

\"For me it was a like fresh start,\" junior defensive back Kobe Easley said. \"There are so many improvements from when I showed up, to now, it's mind-blowing.\"

While all these perks will continue to pay off down the line, right now the football team is focused on the present.

\"This is the year to do something,\" receiver Tanner Champley said. \"It\u2019s all new, we\u2019ve got new guys coming in, a lot of guys coming back, a new look so we\u2019re definitely going to have to make it count.

\"We\u2019re betting on this year.\u201d

The Fighting Bees are coming off consecutive 4-6 seasons and return just 14 seniors. But many of the younger players have playing experience and one of the largest recruiting classes in recent history has brought plenty of optimism.

\"We're very excited right now,\" head coach Mike Magistrelli said. \"We get a sense and see that we have a very talented new group of players that have very quickly started to mesh with the returners to where we feel they complement them very well. We feel like we have a chance to, if healthy, have a good year and I think that's why everybody's excited.\"

Offensively, Jake Romani returns for his second season at quarterback. He earned second team all-conference honors after completing 52.1 percent of his passes for 15 touchdowns.

\"I'm the oldest guy here so all eyes are on me,\" Romani said. \"I've got to be a leader behind the scenes and on the scene. ... First guy in, last guy out. I've got to be serious about everything I do. You take one play off or you take it as a joke, these other guys are going to feed off that and do the same thing. Every move I make, it has to be crisp, it has to be business.\"

Romani also threw 11 interceptions last year but Magistrelli has seen a big step up in his decision-making during the offseason.

\"You saw him progress every year in our program to where last year, finally getting those game reps ... you don't really know until you get out there,\" Magistrelli said. \"I think he went through as big a learning curve, maturity through experience a year ago by playing 10 ball games and gave him a lot of confidence to where you saw that this past spring.\"

The Bees return three starting offensive linemen and Jake Osterberger anchors the running game after rushing for nearly 600 yards and eight touchdowns last season.

Champley leads a receiving corps that is as deep as any the Bees have had in recent years. While there may not be a big-time target, Champley, Vince Vignali and Tom Macari each saw playing time last year and bring something different to the offense.

\"They all can play, they all can be starters so we're pretty confident whenever they can get in the game they can make plays,\" Romani said. \"Communication has been a big thing, making sure we get that down and ready for Week 1.\"

Defensively, the Bees have to replace All-American Chris Overton, who piled up 14.5 sacks last season. While there may not be one single player that can make the impact he did, there's plenty of pieces that can help carry the load.\u00a0

The Bees have four new defensive linemen but return junior linebacker Dillon Valdez, who played in all 10 games last season. Ryan Zitkus, an Illinois State transfer, figures to bring another dimension to the defense as well.

With consistency on the coaching side\u00a0\u2014 Vince Fillipp returns for his second season at defensive coordinator, the first time since 2014 the Bees haven't had to break in a new coach \u2014 the defense is coming quicker and easier.

\"I like the football IQ,\" Valdez said. \"We\u2019re calling out plays, formations and we\u2019re playing fast and we trust each other. We know where we\u2019re going to be and we\u2019re playing hard.\"

There's also experience in the secondary. Easley returns after leading the team with four interceptions as a sophomore and Jake Schramm played in all 10 games as a freshman. Much like the receiving corps, there's depth in the secondary, with four players battling for playing time at the safety spot.

The Bees will be tested throughout the season, with four of their games against teams ranked in the Top 25. St. Ambrose starts off its season with three straight overnight road trips and has to face the last three national champions in two-time defending champion Saint Francis (Ind.) and Marian.

The Bees played a similar schedule last season and believe they're now ready for the gauntlet, and hope to challenge for a conference title.

\"I think a lot of the young guys, going through that hard schedule, it\u2019s only prepared us to be better and more prepared for this year\u2019s schedule,\" Easley said. \"I think we\u2019ll go into the games more focused, more prepared, getting all the younger guys prepared, knowing what to expect.

\"We\u2019re excited for the pressure.\"

"}, {"id":"97698132-5dfd-5393-86f9-b36710de77c0","type":"article","starttime":"1534266000","starttime_iso8601":"2018-08-14T12:00:00-05:00","priority":0,"sections":[{"football":"sports/football"},{"football":"sports/professional/football"}],"flags":{"spotlight":"true"},"application":"editorial","title":"David Murphy: If the NFL actually wants to be safer, it's time to re-evaluate tackling","url":"http://qctimes.com/sports/football/article_97698132-5dfd-5393-86f9-b36710de77c0.html","permalink":"https://qctimes.com/sports/football/david-murphy-if-the-nfl-actually-wants-to-be-safer/article_97698132-5dfd-5393-86f9-b36710de77c0.html","canonical":"http://www.mctdirect.com/preview.php?id=201808140433MCT_____NEWS_SVC_23487979_0000","relatedAssetCounts":{"article":0,"audio":0,"image":1,"link":0,"vmix":0,"youtube":0,"gallery":0},"byline":"By David Murphy, The Philadelphia Inquirer","prologue":"Not long after Jordan Mailata arrived at IMG Academy to begin the process of learning American football, the former rugby player from Australia noticed something strange about the way defenders were taught to tackle. During workouts and film sessions, he and fellow rugby convert Christian Scott Williamson would watch with equal parts confusion and concern as defenders launched themselves into ...","supportsComments":false,"commentCount":0,"keywords":["wire","tns","nfl","football","tackling","safety","rugby","american football","jordan mailata","tackler","defensive player","tackle","sport","player"],"internalKeywords":["#lee","#mct"],"customProperties":{},"presentation":null,"images":[{"id":"f816b265-4f6c-5fd0-bf84-b3e3cbcef163","description":"Atlanta Falcons cornerback Damontae Kazee (27) tackles New York Jets' Jermaine Kearse (10) during the first half of a preseason NFL football game Friday, Aug. 10, 2018, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)","byline":"Bill Kostroun","hireswidth":3132,"hiresheight":2023,"hiresurl":"https://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/f/81/f816b265-4f6c-5fd0-bf84-b3e3cbcef163/5b6e69ffe60f4.hires.jpg","presentation":null,"versions":{"full":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1791","height":"1156","url":"https://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/f/81/f816b265-4f6c-5fd0-bf84-b3e3cbcef163/5b6e69ffe3a3e.image.jpg?resize=1791%2C1156"},"100": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"100","height":"65","url":"https://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/f/81/f816b265-4f6c-5fd0-bf84-b3e3cbcef163/5b6e69ffe3a3e.image.jpg?resize=100%2C65"},"300": {"type":"image/jpeg","width":"300","height":"194","url":"https://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/f/81/f816b265-4f6c-5fd0-bf84-b3e3cbcef163/5b6e69ffe3a3e.image.jpg?resize=300%2C194"},"1024":{"type":"image/jpeg","width":"1024","height":"661","url":"https://bloximages.chicago2.vip.townnews.com/qctimes.com/content/tncms/assets/v3/editorial/f/81/f816b265-4f6c-5fd0-bf84-b3e3cbcef163/5b6e69ffe3a3e.image.jpg?resize=1024%2C661"}}}],"revision":2,"commentID":"97698132-5dfd-5393-86f9-b36710de77c0","body":"

Not long after Jordan Mailata arrived at IMG Academy to begin the process of learning American football, the former rugby player from Australia noticed something strange about the way defenders were taught to tackle. During workouts and film sessions, he and fellow rugby convert Christian Scott Williamson would watch with equal parts confusion and concern as defenders launched themselves into ballcarriers like they were locked doors in an emergency: head lowered, shoulder following like a battering ram, arms often trailing behind.

\"That's not bleepin' tackling,\" Mailata said to Williamson.

Here's a thought: maybe it shouldn't be.

Ever since the NFL's competition committee passed a rule that forbids tacklers from lowering their heads to initiate contact with their helmets, defensive players across the league have complained about the impact that the additional regulation will have on their ability to do their job. But there's a strong argument to be made that the biggest problem with the new rule is that it does not go far enough. If the NFL is serious about its desire to make the game safer, then limiting its focus to plays on which a player makes contact with his helmet is far too narrow in scope.

Instead, what the league really needs is a fundamental re-evaluation of tackling itself, from a philosophical reconsideration of its overall purpose to an explicit redefinition of the technique that player must utilize in order to legally bring a ballcarrier to the ground. What it needs to do is turn tackling from an act of violent collision to an act of wrapping up and bringing to the ground. And that's not nearly as far-fetched an idea as it sounds.

The solution to the problem that the NFL supposedly wants to solve already exists in Mailata's former sport: two sentences, both tucked neatly within rugby's official laws of the game.

1. A player must not charge or knock down an opponent carrying the ball without attempting to grasp that player.

2. A player must not tackle an opponent early, late or dangerously. Dangerous tackling includes, but is not limited to, tackling or attempting to tackle an opponent above the line of the shoulders even if the tackle starts below the line of the shoulders.

That's it. That's all the NFL needs, assuming that it is sincere in its quest to lessen the physical toll that the sport of football places upon those who play it. Wrap up.

If the NFL really wants to make the game safer, the hit that it needs to eliminate doesn't start with the helmet. The most dangerous version of those hits is already covered by the rules. What it needs is to take the violence out of all hits. Instead of policing the game by defining what constitutes an illegal tackle, why not start with the definition of a legal tackle and penalize anything else that does not fit the criteria?

In it's simplest form: a legal tackle is a tackle in which a player leads with his arms, a tackle in which a player's shoulders are externally rotated, his biceps above his clavicle.

\"The Seahawks do it already,\" Mailata said. \"They have a rugby guy come in and teach them how to tackle.\"

To be clear, Mailata was not advocating a change to the NFL's rules. He was simply asked by a writer to explain how tackling works in rugby compared with tackling the NFL. He complied by treating the aforementioned (and increasingly unnerved) writer to a hands-on demonstration of proper rugby tackling technique. The tackler targets a spot on the ballcarrier's body. He reaches with his arms, makes contact with his shoulder, ensures that his head is to the side of the ballcarrier's body.

\"Even when we tackle up top, we find anchors,\" Mailata said.

If the NFL really wants to reduce the risk of concussions, the hit that it needs to eliminate is the one that all of us saw Brian Dawkins put on Alge Crumpler in the NFC playoffs 15 years ago. It's the hit that almost knocked DeSean Jackson out cold in a regular-season game against the Falcons several years later. It's the hit that Malcolm Jenkins laid on Brandin Cooks in the Super Bowl.

Defenders don't want to hear it. And they shouldn't. Because most of them got to where they are by excelling at the sport within the framework of the current rule book. But the question we're considering is how does the NFL make the sport less destructive? And the answer is, by eliminating that devastating, knockout hit.

Now, football is not rugby. Over the last month, I've approached a number of the members of the Eagles defense with the idea of a rule change that requires players to make an attempt to wrap up. Every single one of them has raised the same objection.

\"You've got to think about the running back as well,\" linebacker Nigel Bradham said. \"If he's coming at you, and you're trying to wrap up? You're gonna get run over.\"

Chris Long: \"You'd have to tell the ballcarrier that he has to run straight up[right].\"

Chris Maragos: \"It's easier said than done. You've got a guy coming at you with world-class size, at world-class speed, you're just doing anything you can to bring him down.\"

I bounced that scenario off of Mailata.

\"You have to get lower,\" he said. \"If he comes in low, you just have to come in lower, and get the anchor, and then fall with him.\"

The reality is, we've come to equate tackling with violent, knockout blows. It does not have to be that way. Maybe that changes the complexion of the game as we know it. But, then, isn't that the point?

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Big Ten breakdown: Penn State

Coach: James Franklin, 36-17 entering fifth season at Penn State, 60-32 entering eighth season overall

2017 record: 11-2, 7-2 Big Ten (tied for second, East), defeated Washington 35-28 in the Fiesta Bowl

Offensive starters returning (8): QB Trace McSorley, WR Juwan Johnson, WR DeAndre Thompkins, OL Ryan Bates, OL Will Fries, OL Steven Gonzalez, OL Connor McGovern, OL Chasz Wright

Defensive starters returning (3): DE Ryan Buchholz, DE Shareef Miller, LB Koa Farmer

Specialists returning (1): P BlakeGillikin

Returning statistical leaders: Rushing, Trace McSorley 144-491; Passing, Trace McSorley 284-427-10-3,570-28; Receiving, Juwan Johnson 54-701; Tackles, Koa Farmer 48; Interceptions, Amani Oruwariye 4

Starring roles

Juwan Johnson: At 6-foot-4, the junior provides returning quarterback Trace McSorley with a big target. He hit his stride late last season, recording 22 of his 54 receptions in Penn State\u2019s final four games. Johnson and senior DeAndre Thompkins, who recorded 28 catches last season, will factor even more into the passing game following the graduation loss of tight end Mike Gesicki.

Trace McSorley: Led the Big Ten in total offense and passing yards as a junior last season, gaining an average of 312.4 total yards and 274.6 passing yards per game in his second season as the Nittany Lions\u2019 starting quarterback. The 6-0 senior begins the season needing 1,089 yards to top Penn State\u2019s career passing charts. He threw for 3,570 yards last season.

Shareef Miller: Is the most veteran player on a defensive front which must replace three starters at the onset of the season. The junior defensive end led Penn State with five sacks a year ago and finished the season with 11 tackles for a loss. Miller and part-time starter Ryan Buccholz at the opposite end are the only players with starting experience in the Penn State front four.

On the rise

Amani Oruwariye: Penn State must replace its entire starting secondary, but Oruwariye is no stranger to competition. The senior cornerback saw plenty of playing time in a reserve role last season, leading the Nittany Lions with four interceptions. He also broke up eight passes in addition to recording 20 tackles.

Newbie

Micah Parsons: A defensive end prospect who enrolled early in January has been moved to outside linebacker where he could see playing time as a true freshman in an area where the Nittany Lions\u2019 depth is limited. The 6-3, 245-pound Pennsylvania native has a blend of quickness and strength that will lead him into early action.

The big number

6.5: The Penn State offense averaged 6.5 plays per game of 20 yards or more last season, explosive gains led by the abilities of Saquon Barkley and returning quarterback Trace McSorley.

Coach speak

\u201cWe probably have more question marks going into this season than we\u2019ve had the last two years, yet I think we\u2019re at an exciting time in our program. We obviously lost a lot of production, six players drafted, 15 signed with some NFL organization. I\u2019m proud of that, but it has also put us in a situation where we\u2019ve got to get a lot answered. For the first time, I feel like we have an offense that has a chance to a strength in our program\u2026. Defensively, the biggest question marks are at tackle where we graduated three.\u2019\u2019

2018 schedule

Sept. 1 \u2013 Appalachian State

Sept. 8 \u2013 at Pittsburgh

Sept. 15 \u2013 Kent State

Sept. 21 \u2013 at Illinois

Sept. 29 \u2013 Ohio State*

Oct. 13 \u2013 Michigan State*

Oct. 20 \u2013 at Indiana*

Oct. 27 \u2013 Iowa

Nov. 3 \u2013 at Michigan*

Nov. 10 \u2013 Wisconsin

Nov. 17 \u2013 at Rutgers*

Nov. 24 \u2013 Maryland*

* -- East Division game

Numerology

Where Penn State ranked in the Big Ten in 2017:

Scoring offense: 39.8 (Second)

Rushing offense: 161 (Sixth)

Passing offense: 287 (First)

Totals offense: 448 (Second)

Scoring defense: 19.1 (Third)

Rushing defense: 117 (Fifth)

Passing defense: 231 (12th)

Total defense: 348 (Sixth)

Trends

The Nittany Lions\u2019 record over the last five years:

2013: 7-5

2014: 7-6

2015: 7-6

2016: 11-3

2017: 11-2

Eye on Iowa

All-time series

Penn State 13, Iowa 12

Record in the last five games vs. the Hawkeyes:

2010: Iowa 24, Penn State3

2011: Penn State 13, Iowa 3

2012: Penn State 38, Iowa 14

2016: Penn State 41, Iowa 14

2017: Penn State 21, Iowa 19

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Iowa defensive end Anthony Nelson has been named to the watch list for the Ted Hendricks Award along with two players the Hawkeyes will face in the first two games of the coming season.

Northern Illinois\u2019 Sutton Smith and Iowa State\u2019s JaQuan Bailey also made the watch list for the award, which honors the top defensive end in college football.

On-field performance, exceptional winning attitude, leadership abilities, school and community contributions, and academic preparedness are some qualities the award\u2019s recipient must display. The winner of the award will be announced on Dec. 12.

Nelson, a junior, started all 13 games last season and recorded a team-leading 7.5 sacks while earning third-team All-Big Ten honors. Bailey, also a junior, ranked fifth in the Big 12 with 7.0 sacks last season while Smith led the nation with 14 sacks and 29.5 tackles for loss.

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