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Football: Takeaways from narrow escape in Iowa City

first_imgSaturday night, the University of Wisconsin Football Team, seeking redemption from last week’s loss, went to work at Kinnick Stadium against the Iowa Hawkeyes.Whether or not their narrow victory qualifies as redemption is up for debate, but I think the pendulum has swung too far in favor of the ‘overrated’ narrative — a night win at Iowa is nothing to scoff at.Credit is due where credit is dueSo Alex Hornibrook really went 17-22 for 205 yards and three touchdowns? And no interceptions?We haven’t been kind in our analysis of Hornibrook, that’s for sure. But the numbers don’t lie, even if they came out of nowhere. This was a methodical performance. It seemed the whole game Hornibrook couldn’t make anything happen, yet when the clock ran out, it was the junior quarterback that owned a season-high mark in touchdown passes, a quarterback rating of 200.5 and his 23rd career win.Men’s soccer: The miracle in MarylandAn overtime thriller saw Wisconsin men’s soccer (3–4–1, 1–1 Big Ten) beat the University of Maryland (2–3–2, 1–1 Big Ten) Read…One reason responsible for Hornibrook’s strong night could be his decision to spread the wealth. He hit seven different receivers Saturday, four of them for more than thirty yards. He’s found a connection with tight end Jake Ferguson as a go-to option on third down and continued his campaign to share the brilliance of running back Garret Groshek with the world.A confident road outing from Hornibrook and a clutch winning drive is a welcome sight as the Badgers look to get back on track and power through this season.Taylor slowed down a bitRunning back Jonathan Taylor has been slowed down quite a bit from his normal output these last couple weeks, as he only ran for 113 yards this week in Iowa.First of all, I’m stressing he’s being held to Heisman/All-time great standards, which is why simply eclipsing the century mark for the 14th time in his 18-game career is no longer cause for jubilation.Football: Saturday’s win at Iowa a glimmer of hope (Let me convince you)Sometimes you gotta know when to cut your losses, give up and temper your expectations. Sometimes you gotta hold fast Read…Do we expect him to continue rushing for 200 yards every game?No — but his 4.5 yards per carry average is lower than his average, and keeping it above five or six is a nice benchmark to know the machine is still humming along.Taylor’s Heisman hopes are certainly in jeopardy if he doesn’t return to his early-season heroics.The secondary just isn’t… that good?The Badgers need to find an answer in their secondary, and they need to do so quickly. They have been prone to get burned long down the field, and simply blowing coverages routinely throughout the last few weeks.This is mostly due to the young guard taking over for departing stalwarts Nick Nelson and Natrell Jamerson, leaving senior safety D’Cota Dixon the sole veteran manning the ship amongst his youthful cohorts.Football: Wisconsin survives Iowa 28-17, salvages hope for Playoff seasonMost games following a season-altering loss are automatically labeled as a chance at redemption, a chance to reassert the program’s Read…There were still high hopes after a tight cornerback competition in camp yielded Faion Hicks and Cesar Williams as the cream of the crop, though so far both have been unimpressive — Hicks has notably blown a few obvious tackles and been confused in coverage.The entirety of the Badger secondary looked completely incompetent against Iowa tight end T.J. Hockenson, who only caught three balls but went for 125 yards as he absolutely bulldozed through the Badger secondary.This game will truly best be analyzed in a few weeks, as the narrow wing can better be assessed as either the turning point in a resurgent second-half-season run or a sign of weakness as Wisconsin fades down the stretch.Much like a talking clock, “only time will tell.”last_img read more

STEADY GOING: Drake Porter built himself into SU’s third goalie in three years

first_img Comments Drake Porter’s stickwork was off. He angled himself poorly in net. His clearing ability, the trait Syracuse head coach John Desko would later deem a differentiator for goalies, was a bit behind. Yet, Edge Lacrosse, a club team program in Toronto which cut Porter seven summers ago, formulated a plan to keep him.Alan Tsang, Edge’s program director, offered Porter a training spot on the roster. He viewed Porter as a “project” who couldn’t start in his first season. Tsang recognized Porter’s talent, so, instead, Porter led Edge’s secondary squad. In his third campaign, Porter ascended to the starting role. Potential equated to expectation, and the lesson in patience worked. In 2019, Syracuse is hoping it works again.This past fall, after sitting for two years, Porter’s status as starting goalie was “temporary,” Desko said. Months of first-team reps did nothing to separate the junior from the pack. On Jan. 9, Desko wouldn’t name a clear front-runner. If Porter’s quick hands and ball-stopping ability carried him to SU, his intensity did, too. In high school, he talked to himself during games, asking “What are you doing?” to no apparent answer. He’d yell “Let’s go!” in big moments and scream at his teammates in others. To become the third starting goalie in three years for the No. 10 Orange, he needed to find the balance between both. Desko’s comments didn’t change the plan. The same one set in motion when Porter was 4 years old. The same one that’s supposed to end with Porter standing in the net for SU’s first faceoff.“I don’t want to build it up too much in my head,” Porter said. “I’m doing what I do. I love playing lacrosse every day. The difference is, I get to play on Saturdays now.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder text,Porter started the process at age four when he followed his brother, Chris, to practices. At Markham Thunder Peanut Lacrosse, based out of a Toronto suburb, he indoctrinated himself while surprising his dad, Dave, who had picked up a stick just twice before his sons started playing. Friday nights were soon spent at Toronto Rock’s, a National Lacrosse League team, home games.While in a United States hotel for Chris’ travel hockey team, Porter flicked on ESPNU and saw a regular season Syracuse matchup. Porter was glued. He searched YouTube videos of then-SU goalkeeper John Galloway — the last Syracuse goalkeeper to win a national title — and mimicked his play.Porter and Chris exchanged tips through text as Porter fed into his new passion, eventually identifying Edge Lacrosse as the next step in his development. It didn’t matter that Edge held practices an hour away.“You’re either gonna like having balls shot at your head or not,” Dave said. “Strangely, (Porter) seemed to really like it. He took it from there.”While growing up, Porter played a variety of sports including hockey and football. His emotions flowed through each team and practice. Porter said he carried the same mindset through every game: The next one will be the best. At times, it fueled him to play better, but for some, his intensity hindered progress.Individual sports hurt the most, and the isolation of a golf tee box brought the same pressure as a goalie net. Porter said he’d smack the pipes or his own head in response to letting in goals. It seemed, Dave said, that Porter usually snapped out of it 24 hours following the contest. Though, it eventually returned when Porter played on “weaker teams,” Dave said — or ones that led to Porter facing more doorstep shots.Coaches wanted Porter to channel his competitiveness. It appealed to some, like Tsang, who identified it in the Edge tryouts. Coaches wanted Porter to recognize “tomorrow was another day.” But tomorrow led to the next game. Losing the provincial championship in his junior year of high school, after “riding an emotional high,” triggered a phone call with his brother.“There was a turning point where I realized we were losing the game and that sort of just,” Porter said recently before pausing, “it really dragged me down.”,Porter focused on his breathing to calm down. In lieu of screaming at his defense for missed assignments, he emphasized proactive communication. He developed relationships with the instructors that helped him the most, like Greg Reid, the varsity coach at St. Andrews (Ontario) College. Reid even cut Porter from a recreation-league team years earlier when Porter was “overconfident” and slacked through tryouts. But Reid specifically demanded personal growth as Porter’s recruiting profile grew, with no exceptions. Porter soon drew offers from elite high school programs in the U.S. and Canada.He wanted to stay in Canada, but Dave was told that D-I colleges preferred U.S. goalies. Porter eventually transferred to IMG Academy (Florida) for his senior year.Through Edge Lacrosse, Major League Lacrosse veteran Dillon Ward connected with Porter for summer sessions and became Porter’s first goalie mentor. He taught Porter what YouTube videos couldn’t, starting with the importance of angles. Before Porter walked onto Syracuse’s campus for his freshman year, he traveled to Orangeville, Ontario, Ward’s hometown, and studied goalie techniques on the field that Ward grew up playing on near Tony Rose Memorial Sports Centre.Porter entered the fall as one of four goalies on the SU roster, yet he didn’t redshirt because he competed to be then-starter Evan Molloy’s backup. He appeared in one game his freshman season — tallying two saves against Cornell on April 11, 2017 — and impressed another backup, leading eventual-starter Dom Madonna to turn to a teammate and say, “Wow, this kid really does step it up in big games.”Madonna had noticed Porter’s talent in practice, when the latter was on scout teams. He also realized Porter’s persistent fire that sparked in fall ball and caused Porter to text Ward for advice. But Madonna reached out to Porter. He said he went through similar struggles in high school. The two confided in between drills, sometimes offering a pat on the shoulder after a string of tough shots. Throughout last season, with Porter listed as the backup, Madonna emphasized communication with the backline.Porter’s focus turned to 2019 as the prior season ended and Madonna graduated. After the fall, Desko called Porter into his office. Porter still wasn’t told he’d be the starter. He wouldn’t hear that until six days before SU’s season-opener against Colgate. But, Desko said, Porter had done enough to keep his post atop the Orange’s depth chart. As he walked outside, Porter called his brother and celebrated before quickly remembering the unfulfilled goal. For just a moment, Porter saw the bigger picture. And the plan seemed to be working. Cover photo by TJ Shaw | Staff Photographer Published on February 8, 2019 at 9:59 am Contact Nick: nialvare@syr.edu | @nick_a_alvarez,Cancel replyYou must be logged in to post a comment.last_img read more