NASHVILLE, Tenn. — There are sure to be contrasts in Tennessee’s offense with Dowell Loggains as offensive coordinator in the final five games of the season, but an element of continuity may be most important.
Titans coach Mike Munchak promoted the 32-year-old Loggains from coaching Titans quarterbacks to replace Chris Palmer, who was in his second season with Tennessee and 21st in the NFL, on Monday. Munchak said there are multiple reasons why Loggains is ready for the opportunity.
There is also logic. Loggains has been with the Titans since 2006 and been working closely with quarterback Jake Locker since the Titans drafted the second-year pro with the eighth pick in 2011.
Locker is preparing to make his seventh NFL start against Houston (10-1) on Sunday at LP Field, and the Titans (4-7) hope the familiarity between Loggains and Locker will ease the transition and yield a late-season surge in the standings.
“I just think (Loggains is) very comfortable in the position,” Munchak said Wednesday. “I think he knows the players very well, the receivers, the tight ends, our strengths and our weaknesses. Obviously, he has a great relationship with the quarterbacks and has a great feel for what they like to do, what they’re good at, how they see the game.”
Loggains began installing the game plan after he was promoted. Wednesday’s practice was the first in which the Titans worked on the elements he added, and he’s scheduled to make his first interview with reporters since his promotion on Thursday.
Locker, who will be making his third start since returning from a shoulder injury against Houston on Sept. 30, said the excitement that Loggains has about the opportunity transferred a burst of energy to the players after a disappointing loss at Jacksonville. Locker said he appreciated the relationship he had with Palmer and the knowledge that the veteran shared, but working through the change with Loggains will be helped by their mutual familiarity.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to work with Dowell in the last few years as well,” Locker said. “He’s very intelligent when it comes to the game of football, very eager to learn and grow as a coach. It’s fun to work with him. I enjoy working with him. He sees things really similar to the way I do. I’ve enjoyed it. I’ve learned a lot from him over the last couple of years, and I look forward to continuing to learn from him.”
Locker said the short time frame will not lend itself to wholesale changes, but it is likely that the option routes that were a big part of Palmer’s system that implemented Run ’N Shoot concepts likely will be less prevalent in Loggains’ scheme.
Locker said the most important thing for the Titans’ offense will be to establish consistency.
“We’ve shown flashes of how talented and how explosive we can be,” Locker said. “We’ve just got to be more consistent with it.”
Tennessee repeatedly moved the ball down the field against Jacksonville, going inside the Jaguars’ 25-yard line six times but got just one touchdown out of it in Sunday’s 24-19 loss.
Locker’s shoulder injury in his first start against the Texans worsened an injury he suffered to his left, non-throwing shoulder in the season opener. Locker was hurt early in the game on an unimpeded blitz by Houston’s Glover Quin and missed the next five games until he received medical clearance to return to action. Munchak said Locker has done a better job of adjusting the protections and avoiding direct hits.
Munchak, a Hall of Fame guard and former offensive line coach said Loggains’ understanding of the protections will help him call the game.
“I’m looking forward to seeing how the game goes for him. I’m excited for him,” Munchak said. “I think today he did a good job putting the game plan in, I think we have some good ideas. We’ll see how it goes. I think we’re excited about the plan. We thought we had a good plan last time, but unfortunately we turned the ball over and lost a quarterback. Some bad things happened early in that game last time. Hopefully it’ll be a lot different this Sunday.”
Tight end Jared Cook said the scheme that Loggains is installing had similarities to the scheme of former offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger, who passed away Sept. 30, 2011, from a rare form of cancer.
“It’s exciting to see the kind of plays that we’re bringing to the table and the things that we’re practicing,” Cook said. “It’s kind of like ’Dinger’s offense, which is pretty cool, but it’s going to be a different story on Sunday. We’re going to go and see what kinds of plays are called.”
Cook said the coaching change reinforced a message to offensive players.
“I just feel like we have to improve offensively, and I think that was Coach Munchak’s reason behind it,” Cook said. “Our intention is to improve and get better as an offense.”
Added wide receiver Kendall Wright, who leads NFL rookies and is the team leader with 48 receptions: “I think everybody will notice a difference come Sunday, so we’ll just have to wait and see.”
Munchak said he determined it was time to try a different approach in attacking opponents.
“I felt it was time to do something different. Once I realized that, I think it was time to make the change,” Munchak said. “We’re trying to win football games, and I think this gives us the best chance to win the next five football games.”
NASHVILLE – Austin Peay State University women’s basketball team suffered through one of its worst halves in recent history, scoring nine second-half points in a 67-36 loss to Vanderbilt, Wednesday night at Memorial Gymnasium.
Austin Peay (1-5) was just 3-of-28 (10.7 percent) from the floor in the second half and had two stretches where it missed 13 consecutive shots. Only four Lady Govs scored in the period, including freshman Tiasha Gray who hit one of her four three-pointers in the period.
Despite the Lady Govs shooting woes, Vanderbilt (4-3) could only build an 11-point lead in the opening 10 minutes. It took a 16-0 run over a stretch of four minutes later in the half to expand its lead to 28 points.
“It was definitely the tale of two halves,” said Lady Govs head coach Carrie Daniels. “I thought we rushed some things in the second half. But you have to give Vanderbilt credit. They picked up the pressure and forced us out of where we wanted to run our offense. We got away from what was working for us in the first half.”
Austin Peay’s second half woes overshadowed a first-half performance that saw it keep pace with homestanding Vanderbilt. The Lady Govs did trail by nine points with 5:13 left in the period, but Gray hit two of her three point shots in that final stretch, the latter cutting the deficit to two points, 27-25, with 1:27 left.
The Lady Govs tied the game on its next possession thanks to senior Kaitlyn Hill‘s turnaround hook shot. However, the Commodores took a 29-27 halftime lead after Clair Watkins’ layup.
Gray led Austin Peay with a career-best 12 points, making 4-of-6 from three-point range. Hill was next on the Lady Govs scoring list with six points.
Tiffany Clarke led Vanderbilt with 19 points and seven rebounds. The Commodores shot just 39.6 percent from the floor, but easily outpaced the Lady Govs 23.2 percent shooting effort.
Austin Peay will return to the floor when it hosts Ball State at 5:15 p.m. Saturday at the Dunn Center.
By Mark Bowman / MLB.com
ATLANTA — The Braves made B.J. Upton their primary offseason target, and they can now look forward to seeing him in their lineup for at least the next five years.
Upton and the Braves agreed to a five-year contract, officially announced after a physical on Thursday morning in Atlanta. A source said the deal was worth $75.25 million.
Upton chose the Braves after drawing interest from the Phillies and to a lesser extent, the Nationals. The 28-year-old outfielder had been with the Rays since being taken with the second selection in the 2002 First-Year Player Draft.
Along with enhancing the Braves’ lineup with his coveted combination of speed and power, Upton will bring his highly regarded defensive skills to an outfield that already possesses Gold Glove right fielder Jason Heyward.
As things currently stand, Upton will replace Michael Bourn in center field, as the Braves continue to search for a left fielder via a trade or the free-agent market.
When the Braves began looking toward the future, they quickly determined Upton was the most attractive outfielder on the free-agent market. They did not have the financial resources available to compete for Josh Hamilton, and they were hesitant about bringing Bourn back with a five-year deal.
With much of Bourn’s value coming via his speed, the Braves were worried about the production he might provide near the end of a five-year deal. The speedy outfielder, who was acquired by the Braves at the 2011 Trade Deadline, will turn 30 in December.
Along with being two years younger than Bourn, the 28-year-old Upton has shown the ability to provide both power and speed. This combination and his age seemingly made it easier for Atlanta to project what he might provide over the life of the contract.
When the free-agent process began, Upton thought there was a good chance that he would end up with the Phillies. But the Braves put themselves in position to get a deal done when they made a solid impression on the veteran outfielder during his Nov. 15 visit to Turner Field.
General manager Frank Wren and manager Fredi Gonzalez both were impressed with the maturity and knowledge Upton showed during that meeting. Upton’s visit to Atlanta was enhanced when former manager Bobby Cox stopped by the clubhouse and spent some time talking baseball with the five-tool outfielder.
Upton batted .246 with a career-high 28 homers and a .752 OPS in 146 games with Tampa Bay in 2012. He also recorded a career-high 169 strikeouts and posted an alarming .298 on-base percentage.
Over the past three seasons, Upton has combined to hit .242 with a .317 on-base percentage and a .436 slugging percentage.
These are not the numbers that were necessarily envisioned when Upton was drafted with great expectations 10 years ago. But the athletic outfielder has continued to impress scouts with his skills and ability to come through in the clutch. Upton hit eight home runs while helping the Rays reach the 2008 World Series.
Upton has increased his home run total each of the past five years and has recorded at least 31 stolen bases each of the past five seasons. He finished two home runs shy of joining the 30-30 club in 2012.
Fort Campbell lost to Evansville Reitz 60-17 in a dual wrestling match in Evansville on Tuesday.
The Falcons won four of the 14 matches.
The match started at 126 pounds.
Evansville Reitz (ER) 60.0 Fort Campbell (FOCA) 17.0
126: Kyle Todrank, ER, pinned Jose Intriago, FOCA, 1:34.
132: Blake Johns, ER, pinned Brian Hedrick, FOCA, 3:00.
138: David Sahms, FOCA, pinned Jeff Reese, ER, 3:55.
145: Alex Riegel, ER, pinned Nighgell Davidson, FOCA, 2:09.
152: Josh Green, FOCA, pinned Will Vanhook, ER, 2:17.
160: Jerry Haywood, FOCA, dec. Andy Winpelberg, ER, 11-4.
170: Ki Ryder, FOCA, dec. Andrew Shaw, ER, 4-1.
182: Seth Meyers, ER, pinned Enrique Martinez, FOCA, 0:28.
195: Tristian Clark, ER, pinned Caleb Carter, FOCA, 1:13.
220: Mike Hammonds, ER, pinned Jesse Robertson, FOCA, 0:25.
285: Dan Goodwin, ER, pinned Jake Jorstad, FOCA, 1:40.
106: Ty Ferguson, ER, pinned Syanne Ferguson, FOCA, 0:09.
113: Damon Kuhn, ER, pinned Nick Brooks, FOCA, 1:12.
120: Josh Davis, ER, pinned Anthony Dewitt, FOCA, 1:24. (FOCA Thrown Headgear -1.000)
CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. — Austin Peay State University redshirt senior Anthony Campbell recorded the 1,000th point of his career, among his game-high co-leading 20 points Wednesday night at the Dunn Center, as the Govs hammered Berea College 108-53.
Campbell’s 1,000th point came at the free-throw line with 17:01 left in the second half for Austin Peay (3-3), after Berea College’s Deon Banks was called for a technical foul.
He is the 32nd Governor in school history to reach 1,000 career points.
“I’m really happy for Campbell because it’s quite a milestone and distinction, especially the way he’s done it,” Austin Peay coach Dave Loos said. “With what he’s had to fight through and to score 1,000 points I’m happy for him.”
Reaching that milestone seemed a foregone conclusion after his sophomore season, when he stood at 739 points, but the Edwardsville, Ill., native was limited to 10 games in each of the last two seasons after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in each campaign.
Also totaling 20 points for the Govs, who finished the night with five players breaking double figures, was freshman Corey Arentsen – who hit all seven second-half shot attempts, including six straight three pointers at one point, after recording two misses in the first half.
The 20 points marked the first time Arentsen broke into double figures for the Govs this season.
“I’m not surprised with the way he shot the ball in the second half,” Loos said. “He can really stroke it if you give him a clean look and he gets his feet set and squared up. He can make a large portion of his shots and he did tonight.”
In addition to Campbell and Arentsen, junior Travis Betran added 16 and freshman Chris Horton 15, including a reverse slam on a lob from fellow freshman AJ Lynch – who finished with nine assists on the evening. Junior Will Triggs also snapped a recent scoring slump with 11 points.
Berea College (6-3), a NAIA member, had three players score double figures — led by Koty Riley’s 13 points – but for the most part the Mountaineers struggled offensively against the Govs finishing the night shooting only 32.8 percent from the floor compared to the 56.7 percent shot by Austin Peay.
“The last thing we talked about before the left the locker room tonight was it’s not who you’re playing, but how you play the game,” Loos said. “We did some good things, but there were also some teachable moments out there too.”
Next up for Austin Peay is a home game versus Fairfield, on Saturday at 7:30 p.m., in a rematch of the 2010-11 Sears Bracket Buster game played back during the 2010-11 season, won by Stags 76-69 in Bridgeport, Conn.
Austin Peay 108, Berea College 53
Berea College 23-30—53
Austin Peay 45-63—108
Berea College: Trent Maddox 5, Tevin Webster 6, Koty Riley 13, Aaron Ponder 2, Rashad Hayden 2, Dominique Garmon 11, Tyler Huff 2, Deon Banks 12. Totals 21 8-11 53.
Austin Peay: Will Triggs 11, Anthony Campbell 20, Chris Horton 15, Travis Betran 16, AJ Lynch 7, Thomas Greer 3, Chris Freeman 7, Corey Arentsen 20, Herdie Lawrence 2, Joe Harms 5, Matt Hasse 2. Totals 38 20-27 108.
3-point goals: Berea College: 3 (Maddox 1, Riley 1, Garmon 1); Austin Peay 12 (Campbell 2, Betran 3, Lynch 1, Arentsen 6).
Records: Berea College 6-3; Austin Peay 3-3.
Berea (Ky) at APSU Photo Gallery
By Richard Justice
There was a time — and not that long ago — when some of us doubted Michael Bourn would ever be in this position. He’s poised to make millions in free agency as an impact player at the top of the lineup and in center field, and the Nationals and Phillies are among several teams believed to be interested.
If that was all Bourn brought to the table, it would be plenty. In the last four seasons, he has averaged 93 runs, 54 stolen bases and a .348 on-base percentage. Still, in Bourn’s case, there’s much more.
He has one of those happy, infectious personalities that wears well during the grind of a baseball season. If Bourn has ever had a bad day, he has never let anyone know it.
He shows up with a smile and believes in the old-fashioned ideas of working hard and never taking anything for granted. Branch Rickey once said it’s impossible to really know a player until you have him on your team. That’s how it is with Bourn. Some team is going to get a first-rate player, but it’s going to get an even better man.
OK, back to his journey, one that speaks volumes about his toughness and commitment to maximizing every ounce of talent.
For instance, in 2008, his first full season as an everyday player, he batted .229. I know, I know. Batting average doesn’t tell the whole story. Didn’t then. Doesn’t now. In this case, it told enough. Bourn struck out 111 times that season, drew 37 walks and had a .288 on-base percentage.
He was the centerpiece of the trade that sent Brad Lidge from the Astros to the Phillies, and while Lidge was helping the City of Brotherly Love win a World Series, Bourn was fighting his guts out to prove he belonged in the Major Leagues.
When the Astros showed up at Spring Training in 2009, Lance Berkman tapped Bourn on the shoulder one day and invited him to join him for a post-workout round of batting practice in the indoor cages.
Over the next few weeks, they did this almost every day, mostly with Berkman talking and Bourn listening. Berkman had some mechanical suggestions, but the lessons appeared to be mostly mental.
Some of it was as simple as going to home plate with a game plan for both the situation and the pitcher. Some of it was about dealing with failure, that is, accepting that sometimes the pitcher wins the battle.
It’s very tough to get a Major League Baseball player to dramatically change his approach once he has arrived. Regardless of the struggles, he figures he made it doing things one way and would be a fool to change.
That’s especially true in Bourn’s case, because he had the gift of blazing speed. Even if he never became a good offensive player, he had a gift that was likely to keep him in the Major Leagues for a long time.
But what Bourn showed the Astros that spring — and what he has shown managers, teammates and others in the years since — is that he burns to be great. One of the things teammates remember about him is how hard he works and how committed he is to improving every part of his game.
(I have a photo somewhere of a Houston Little League team that had Bourn, Carl Crawford and Jason Bourgeois on it. All three future Major League outfielders played the infield on that team. Yes, they won a state championship.)
In those first years in the Major Leagues, Bourn was not a great defensive player either. But he fielded hundreds of balls over the years, improved both his jump and his route to fly balls. He studied hitters, ballparks, the whole nine yards.
Since hitting .229 in 2008, Bourn has batted .288 in four Major League seasons. He has led the National League in steals three times, is a two-time Gold Glove winner and a two-time All-Star. He was 18th in National League Most Valuable Player balloting this season.
At 29, he’s not as good as he believes he can be. He hasn’t said that, but I know him well enough to know that there’s some part of his game — bunting, throwing, running, something — that he’s committed to improving this offseason.
According to Baseball-Reference.com, Bourn’s 6.0 Wins Above Replacement number was tied with Chase Headley for sixth-best in the National League, just 1.2 points behind leader Buster Posey.
Whether you buy that number or not, there’s no question some team is going to do a really smart thing in the next few weeks when it signs Bourn. That team is going to know it’s getting a good player, but that’s just going to be the beginning of what it’ll be getting.
By Bernie Pleskoff
There’s much to like about St. Louis Cardinals second-base prospect Kolten Wong.
I saw Wong play in the Futures Game last July in Kansas City as well as during the recently concluded Arizona Fall League.
Wong had an outstanding career at Kamehameha Hawaii High School in Kea’au Hawaii.
As well as being a top scholar, Wong played baseball and football and was named the 2008 state co-baseball player of the year. He hit an amazing .660 as a senior. In fact, he never hit below .500 in any of his four years playing high school baseball.
Following high school, Wong’s play earned him a selection in the 16th round of the 2008 First-Year Player Draft by the Minnesota Twins.
Deciding instead to attend the University of Hawaii, Wong had an outstanding collegiate career. He earned countless awards and recognition playing in the infield, the outfield and even as a catcher.
The Cardinals made Wong the 22nd overall player selected in the 2011 Draft. He was chosen as a second baseman, the position he played most frequently at the University of Hawaii. He is currently ranked by MLB.com as the No. 4 prospect in the Cardinals’ organization.
For me, Wong is currently an offense-first second baseman. That is not to say he can’t play solid defense. Rather, it is to say that the offensive part of his game is currently more advanced.
Wong is 5-foot-9 and 190 pounds. He bats left-handed while throwing right-handed.
The recently turned 22-year-old Wong is strong and agile. He makes the most of every inch and pound of his frame. However, his physical development may be complete, offering very little opportunity to add much additional weight in the form of muscle and strength.
Physically, Wong reminds me of Chicago Cubs second baseman Darwin Barney. Barney is an inch taller and five pounds lighter. Their games are similar as well.
Wong has a very short, quiet, compact swing. He has very little movement prior to the pitch. Rather, he concentrates on recognizing pitches early and swinging at those pitches he feels he can handle.
Wong sees the ball very well out of the pitcher’s hand. His concentration and patience help allow him to take pitchers deep into favorable hitter counts. That skill has resulted in a very good contact rate.
Having the ability to consistently put the bat on the ball as well as being able to accept walks help profile Wong as a top of the batting order hitter. He should be able to get on base and score runs.
In parts of two seasons of Minor League Baseball, Wong has a composite batting average of .300. He has played for Class A Quad Cities and Double-A Springfield. Wong’s composite on-base percentage is a very strong .363.
While Wong does not possess game-breaking power, he does have enough pop in his bat to hit his share of home runs or drive the ball to the gaps. He will hit enough long drives to require defenses to play deeply enough to avoid giving up the easy extra-base hit.
Wong’s good bat control allows him to take pitches deep and see the pitch long enough to drive the ball exactly where it is pitched. He is rarely out front on pitches, thereby avoiding hitting countless foul balls to right field, his pull side. His eye-hand coordination is another one of his outstanding hitting qualities.
More often than not, I have seen Wong’s base hits come from spraying the ball on a line to all fields or just over the head of the second baseman.
In the Arizona Fall League this past season, Wong hit a very respectable .324 with one home run and 12 RBIs. He stole five bases, but he was caught stealing three times. Like he has done in his Minor League career to date, he had an outstanding on-base percentage of .342.
While hitting for average is probably Wong’s most advanced tool, he also has the ability to run well and potentially steal bases.
Smart and solid running the bases, Wong has good instincts and realizes risks he can take and risks to avoid. This past season he stole 21 bases, but he was caught 11 times. He has the speed and athletic ability, but he needs better base-stealing technique. He has to refine his ability to “read” pitchers.
Defensively, Wong is probably Major League average at second base. That’s the only position I’ve seen him play.
In the Arizona Fall League, Wong had 94 chances at second base and made three errors.
Wong may “think” too much on defense as opposed to acting on his instincts and reacting naturally.
His first step is rather slow to both sides, impacting his overall range. In addition, he has a bit of a delay coming in on short-hop grounders in front of him.
I have seen a strong and accurate arm as well as good footwork on the turn of the double play.
Some scouts I have spoken with think he may be best suited as a center fielder or catcher. To the contrary, while I don’t think he’ll become Robbie Alomar, I do think he will continue to improve as a second baseman. I would not change his position at this time.
Of the players I saw this past fall in Arizona, Wong was among a handful I felt were closest to finishing their baseball skill development. He may, indeed, find himself in St. Louis before the 2013 season concludes.
Wong could prove to be a good table-setter at the top of the order for the Cardinals’ power hitters.
Players like Kolten Wong, with the ability to make contact, hit for high average, bunt, accept walks and execute the hit-and-run provide the impetus for the main objective of the game — scoring runs.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — This week the Tennessee Titans (4-7) play their second of three consecutive games against AFC South opponents, as they host the division-leading Houston Texans (10-1). Kickoff at LP Field (capacity 69,143) is scheduled for noon CT on Sunday, Dec. 2.
The clubs played their first of two annual contests on Sept. 30 at Reliant Stadium. The Texans prevailed by a final score of 38-14, despite 141 rushing yards by Titans running back Chris Johnson—his first of four 100-yard efforts over the last eight games.
The Titans were forced to play the majority of the contest without starting quarterback Jake Locker, who suffered a left shoulder injury on the team’s second offensive series. Matt Hasselbeck stepped in and passed for 193 yards and a pair of touchdown passes. However, the Titans were unable to overcome three costly turnovers that the Texans turned into 17 total points.
This week’s game will be televised regionally on CBS, including Nashville affiliate WTVF NewsChannel 5. Kevin Harlan will handle play-by-play duties while Solomon Wilcots provides analysis.
The Titans Radio Network, including Nashville flagship 104.5 The Zone, will broadcast the game across the Mid-South with the “Voice of the Titans” Mike Keith, color commentator Frank Wycheck, sideline reporter Cody Allison and gameday host Larry Stone.
The Titans visited the Jacksonville last week and lost to the Jaguars by a final score of 24-19. Despite throwing an interception on his first pass attempt of the game, Jacksonville quarterback Chad Henne went on to complete 17 of 26 passes for 261 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the win. Henne, who was starting for the first time in a Jaguars uniform, helped end the team’s seven-game losing skid.
The Titans defense managed seven sacks in the contest, the most by the team since the 2008 season opener (Sept. 7, 2008 vs. Jacksonville). Rookie linebacker Zach Brown led the way with two sacks, and the team received one sack each from linebacker Akeem Ayers, safety Michael Griffin, defensive end Kamerion Wimbley and defensive tackles Jurrell Casey and Karl Klug.
On offense, Titans quarterback Jake Locker, who made his sixth start of the season, completed 23 of 40 passes for 261 yards, one touchdown and a pair of late interceptions. He found wide receiver Kenny Britt for a six-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter.
Other than Britt’s touchdown, the team’s remaining 13 points were scored by Rob Bironas, who made four of five field goal attempts and an extra point.
The Texans, who are tied with the Atlanta Falcons (10-1) for the NFL’s best record, will have 10 days to prepare for the Titans. Last week they visited Detroit on Thanksgiving and escaped with a 34-31 overtime victory—their fifth consecutive win and their second overtime win in five days. In their previous game, they defeated the Jaguars 43-37 in extra time.
Against the Lions, Shayne Graham’s game-winning 32-yard field goal capped a day in which Arian Foster ran for 102 yards and two touchdowns; Matt Schaub passed for 315 yards and a score; Andre Johnson had 188 receiving yards; and J.J. Watt had three sacks.
U.S. MARINE CORPS RESERVE “TOYS FOR TOTS” DRIVE
Prior to the game, fans are encouraged to participate in the annual U.S. Marine Corps Toys for Tots Drive. New, unwrapped toys can be dropped off with members of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve stationed outside of the gates at LP Field. All toys collected during the drive will be used in the Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program and distributed to children in Middle Tennessee.