Penn State's star running back bolts for USC

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Penn State's star running back bolts for USC

From Comcast SportsNet
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) -- Penn State's loss could turn into a big gain on the ground for Southern California. Star tailback Silas Redd bolted Happy Valley to join the Trojans in a season of great expectations in Los Angeles. A 1,200-yard rusher, Redd will join heralded quarterback Matt Barkley on a team already favored to win the Pac-12 and return to the Rose Bowl. It's a perk that Redd wouldn't have enjoyed at Penn State with the program burdened by stiff NCAA sanctions because of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal. Among the penalties was a four-year postseason ban, as well as a scholarship reduction. The NCAA also allowed players to seek new schools to play immediately this season, so long as they left by the start of Penn State training camp on Monday. Since the sanctions were imposed last week, Nittany Lions coach Bill O'Brien has been trying to keep the team intact by stressing academics, family and the prospect of playing seven home games a year in front of a crowd of 108,000 strong at Beaver Stadium. For the most part, it seems to have worked -- even though Redd's departure will be a serious blow to an offense being reconfigured by O'Brien, the former coordinator of the New England Patriots' high-powered attack. Counting Redd, three players have left Penn State since the NCAA imposed its landmark sanctions on July 23. A fourth player, third-string quarterback Rob Bolden, was removed from the roster this week but had been granted permission to talk to other schools before the sanctions. Otherwise, O'Brien hasn't lost any other starters or top backups so far. He had also said last week at Big Ten media days that more than 50 players had indicated they would stay. Six 2013 recruits have also reaffirmed their verbal commitments. Penn State athletic director Dave Joyner wished Redd and the other transfers well. "I think that certainly we understand and it's within their purview," Joyner said in an interview Tuesday night with The Associated Press at an evening football function. He added the low number of transfers was "a great testament to Bill O'Brien, and the kind of person he is, the kind of coach he is and the kind of players these are overall. "This team has a lot of unity." But it won't have Redd. Sophomore Bill Belton, a converted wideout, is next on the Penn State depth chart, and that could prove to be a roadblock as O'Brien tries to transform the offense on the fly. Out west, Redd joins a team that finished 10-2 and No. 6 in the final AP poll last season despite its own NCAA sanctions -- bowl ineligibility and a smaller roster. After Barkley and safety T.J. McDonald decided in December to return for their senior years, USC signed a top-flight recruiting class led by elite quarterback prospect Max Browne. Redd could make the Trojans even better. "We welcome Silas Redd to the Trojan Family," USC athletic director Pat Haden said in a statement. "He is an outstanding student and athlete." USC had been sanctioned for rules violations committed during the 2004 and 05 seasons. "At USC, we've seen both sides of this issue, having lost a number of players to transfer due to our NCAA sanctions in 2010. But Lane Kiffin and his coaches would not be doing their job if they did not try to improve our team every single day," Haden said. "There is a specific need here for a player like Silas Redd, so Lane and our coaches recruited him within the guidelines set up in this instance by the NCAA." An early-morning rally and last-minute social media campaign couldn't keep Redd from leaving Penn State. He took a weekend visit to USC before delivering the news to Nittany Lions coaches at the team headquarters -- about 12 hours after Tuesday's "Rise and Rally" community event to rouse the players at morning workouts. Penn State said later Tuesday that tight end Kevin Haplea was also no longer with the team. It was unclear where the junior, who started one game last year, was headed. Backup safety Tim Buckley, a former walk-on, was the first player to leave Penn State in the wake of the sanctions. He joined North Carolina State this week. And then, there is the case of Bolden, the former starting quarterback, who pondered leaving last year, as well. LSU has shown an interest in Bolden, yet he has not chosen a new destination. Most players interviewed after the rally and voluntary workout said they hoped Redd and others would stick around, but would honor their decisions regardless. "Each player came here for different reasons and with different objectives," tight end Garry Gilliam said. "When it comes down to it, I'd like them to stay, but if they don't, I'll respect their decisions." Linebacker Khairi Fortt -- like Redd, a junior from Connecticut -- has considered Cal, Florida State and Kansas, his father, Guy confirmed in an email to The Associated Press. The Stamford Advocate first reported details of Fortt's recruitment. The younger Fortt, a top reserve for Penn State, liked his visit to Cal but loves his Nittany Lions coaches, his father said. His decision could come Wednesday. The rally was evidence of the Penn State community's resolve to stand behind the Nittany Lions that remain. With the pep band playing, at least 2,500 blue-and-white backers, alumni and local business owners cheered outside the football building Tuesday in support of the players caught in the middle of one of the worst episodes ever in college athletics. Fans lined the sidewalks to slap high-fives and shake hands with the Nittany Lions as they snaked their way to the workout. The scene resembled the team entrance to home games at Beaver Stadium on fall Saturdays. Inspirational quotes from Winston Churchill, Thomas Paine and Vince Lombardi were posted in the windows of the building. "It isn't whether you get knocked down. It's whether you get back up," read one quote attributed to Lombardi, the Hall of Fame NFL coach. "It was so cool. I couldn't believe how loud it was," fullback Michael Zordich said. "This just goes to show why we're still here and why we're going to fight this thing through." Former player Keith Conlin, a local businessman and online radio show host who helped organize the event said he wanted current team members "to know that we have their backs." "These kids, they've been fighting an uphill battle for eight months, and it's nothing that they did," he said. "We're not going to leave them and run away." Most downtown businesses are displaying "Proud to Support Penn State Football" signs on windows. Some stores have started selling shirts with the slogan "Billieve," playing off of O'Brien's first name. After much deliberation, Redd will not be a part of this revival. Instead, he's going to chase a title with the Trojans.

Notes: Marquette King has a bad day, mocked by Kelce

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Notes: Marquette King has a bad day, mocked by Kelce

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Marquette King had a bad day at work. The Raiders punter rarely does, and celebrates his exploits with dances catered to each opponent. He has become a social media maven in recent weeks, by far the NFL’s most interesting punter.

On Thursday night, the opposition fought back. King mishit a punt that gave lightning quick Tyreek Hill an opportunity to return a punt 78 yards for a touchdown.

He also couldn’t get a slightly-off-target snap down in time for Sebastian Janikowski to kick a makable field goal.

All told, King punted eight times, and didn’t land a single one inside the 20-yard line. His 31.1-yard net average was 10 yards below his season average.

King’s no good, very bad day took a strange turn on the punt return touchdown, when Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce approached King and did a bronco riding dance King debuted in Week 9 against Denver. Kelce did his dance and then barked at the Raiders young punter, which was followed by a terse exchange.

"He told me I didn't have any rhythm," Kelce said on NFL Network. "I told him, 'Trust me, wait until I get until the end zone.'"

King also found Hill in the end zone and said unkind things that ultimately got him flagged for taunting.

That was the end of a bad sequence where King didn’t hit the punt right. His coverage was angled left, and he hit it straight.

“We kicked it right to a dangerous guy,” head coach Jack Del Rio said. “We didn’t want to kick it in the middle of the field. We wanted to get it to the sideline or out of bounds, but we just missed. He’s too dangerous a guy to give that type of opportunity to.”

Osemele taken to hospital: Raiders left guard Kelechi Osemele was taken to a Kansas City hospital on Thursday morning with an undisclosed illness.

He wasn’t ready to play on Thursday night, and was a late scratch. Vadal Alexander and Jon Feliciano played left guard in Osemele’s stead, but the Raiders missed their emotional leader along the line.

Del Rio said Osemele should be fine with a few days rest, and should be ready to practice when the Raiders resume football activity early next week.

“It was significant enough that we wanted to make sure he got the proper care,” Del Rio said.

Osemele was able to travel home on the team charter.

Another strong day for Murray: The Raiders passing game couldn’t get much going against Kansas City. The same can’t be said for the run game. The Silver and Black totaled 135 yards on 31 carries, an effort led by Latavius Murray’s fine day. He had 103 yards on 22 carries, the second straight game he has exceeded 100 yards total offense.

Murray kept the offense afloat while the air attack struggled, including several key runs on a late comeback push that was ultimately unsuccessful. Murray also scored his 12th rushing touchdown of the season, matching the highest total since Marcus Allen had a dozen touchdowns in 1990.

This ‘n that: Raiders receiver Amari Cooper exceeded 1,000 receiving yards for the second straight year, becoming the first Raiders to reach four digits in the first two years of his career. He is the third player in NFL history with at least 70 catches and 1,000 yards in his first two pro seasons. …Khalil Mack had a strip sack for the third straight game, which extends a marvelous run of defensive play. Mack has a sack in eight straight games, and has eight sacks, five forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries in the last six games. …The Chiefs have won four straight games against the Raiders, and sit atop the AFC West with three games to play.

Carr takes responsibility for poor Raiders passing game, 'We played awful'

Carr takes responsibility for poor Raiders passing game, 'We played awful'

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Derek Carr has made 44 starts as Raiders quarterback. They all haven’t been pretty. Most of them have, but the 25-year has hit a few bumps during what is generally considered a sterling start to his career.

He threw some costly interceptions in 2015, and was learning on the job as a rookie. He’s been nothing short of awesome this season. Until Thursday night, certainly one of his worst as a professional.

Ponder this stat line: 17-for-41, 117 passing yards, no touchdowns, no picks. His 49.1 passer rating was career low.

That’s un-Carr-like, to say the least.

While his receivers dropped four passes, there were many others not in the tally that should’ve been caught. Special teams made some costly mistakes and the defense had some first-half lapses.

Carr wasn’t afraid to say quarterback play had a huge impact on a 21-13 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, a nationally televised game that dropped the Raiders to 10-3 and into second-place in the AFC West.

“It was definitely a bad night, no way of getting around that,” Carr said. “I hate to have a bad night coming on this one, out of all the games we’ve had. Obviously, we didn’t do enough. 

“I feel very responsible for that because of being the leader of the offense and the team. I feel sick to my stomach when we put something like that out there on film. It hurts, I can promise you that. I put too much time into this to go do something like that.”

Carr didn’t want to make excuses after this loss. He didn’t blame his right pinky, which he dislocated in two places against Carolina, which still causes discomfort.

“It definitely wasn’t the finger’s fault,” Carr said.

He didn’t blame frigid temperatures, or whether that had an effect on his grip or his ailing digit. It certainly might have, but the Raiders quarterback never plays the blame game.

Despite the passing game’s struggles, Latavius Murray ran well and the defense clamped down in the second half. That kept the Raiders down one score most of the second half, but they couldn’t cross the goal line.

The Raiders had more than eight minutes to put a game-trying drive together, but stalled at the Kansas City 19-yard line and turned it over on downs.

Carr put one touchdown drive together, late in the first half that made it 21-10. The defense forced two turnovers in the red zone early in the third quarter, but the Raiders only got three points from those opportunities.

That, much like everything else that happened in the passing game, was uncharacteristic of an explosive unit.

“Everything about tonight was unusual, to be honest,” Carr said. “To have our defense step up for us and make plays, and for us to go out there and not execute, do things we don’t do… That’s why it’s frustrating. That why I promise you I’m not worried.

“We played awful. It wasn’t good enough, but I’m not worried because I know the guys in the locker room. I’m not worried one bit, but it just sucks. We have to take it. We have to take the punch, but I’m not worried. I think we’re going to bounce back.”