Democrat and Chronicle from Rochester, New York on October 19, 2015 · Page D8
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October 19, 2015

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Democrat and Chronicle from Rochester, New York · Page D8

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Rochester, New York
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Monday, October 19, 2015
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Page D8
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Page8D Monday,October19,2015 DemocratandChronicle. com HE CAN REALLYHIT ITA LONG WAY. IT’S GIVEN ME A COMPLEX ABOUTHOW BAD I AM, TO BE HONESTWITH YOU.” Cubs catcher D avid Ross , 38 , on teammate K yle Schwarber’ s power. The 22-year-oldrookie’s 459-foot home run Saturday was his fourth of the postseason. QUOTE OF THE D AY ROSS BY CHARLES LECLAIRE, USA TODAY SPORTS USA SNAPSHOTS © Kids embrace hoops Source Experian Simmons ELLEN J. HORROW AND VERONICA BRAVO, USA TODAY 49,924,912 American kids 12 and older who played basketball in the last 12 months, leading all major sports SPORTSLINE PITTSBURGH Unless Ben Roethlisberger returns next week, the best option for the Pittsburgh Steelers at quarterback is likely a third-year pro who hadn’t thrown an NFL pass until Sunday. Landry Jones, a 2013 fourth- r ound draft pick from Oklahoma, m ade a strong case that he’s a bet- t er choice than Michael Vick by t hrowing for 168 yards and two touchdowns after taking over for injured Vick in the third quarter o f the 25-13 victory against the Arizona Cardinals. “I just still can’t believe I got in the game and got to play, you know what I mean,” Jones said, chuckling. “I’m still kind of reeling from it. Next week will be next week. Today I’m going to enjoy it.” So will the Heinz Field crowd after growing frustrated in watching Vick, again, struggle mightily in the passing game. It’s been a recurring theme since Roethlisberger sprained a medial collateral ligament in Week 3: Vick’s inability to get the ball downfield to receivers. At one point Sunday, Antonio Brown was wide open downfield and held his hands in the air, to no avail. Brown has expressed frustration in not getting the ball more with Vick as quarterback. “It’s been uncomfortable for h im, no doubt,” Steelers coach M ike Tomlin said. “He’s got a great rapport with Ben Roethlis- b erger. Ben’s not playing.” A sked if he had found a quart erback, with the health of his franchise quarterback still uncer- t ain, Tomlin said, “You know, we h ave some options here.” Jones saw brief action in the second quarter after Vick was sidelined because of what o cials said was dirt in his eye. In the third quarter, Jones relieved Vick after Vick injured his hamstring on a running play. Despite Vick’s struggles — he completed three of eight passes for 6 yards — Tomlin said he did not consider inserting Jones before Vick’s injury. Jones, who completed eight of 12 passes, said he sometimes doubted he ever would get a snap w ith the Steelers (4-2). He strug- g led at times during training camp. And Pittsburgh signed Vick i n August. “ Landry probably played more p reseason snaps than anybody in the history of the National Foot- b all League this year,” Tomlin s aid. “He got better, and it was displayed today. He had the op- portunity to contribute in a big way.” The Cardinals outgained the Steelers 279-59 in the first half. Pittsburgh had 1 passing yard in the half. Jones said he was grateful coaches had enough confidence in him to allow him to throw the ball at all. Once he took over on Pittsburgh’s second series in the third quarter, he threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to Martavis Bryant on his second throw. Then he l ed the Steelers on scoring drives o n each of their next three possessions. H e quickly found a rapport w ith Bryant, who missed the fi rst f our games because of a violation of the league’s substance abuse p olicy. A short fourth-quarter p ass to Bryant turned into an 88- yard touchdown reception. “It was a great ball by Landry,” Bryant said of the slant. Tomlin did not know the extent of Vick’s hamstring injury. He could start any one of three quarterbacks next week at the Kansas City Chiefs and would like clarity on the position as quickly as possible. There is at least one person in Pittsburgh not thinking about who will play quarterback next week. That’s Jones, who admitted afterward that he was thinking a bout the touchdown pass to B ryant. No matter who starts, the S teelers know their identity: r esiliency. “ It’s unbelievable, I’ve never seen anything like it,” Jones said. “ The guys are resilient. … Today w e showed the world what type of team we are.” JONES GETS CHANCE, GIVES STEELERS SPARK Third-year pro excels after Vick’s injury Eric Prisbell @EricPrisbell USA TODAY Sports JASON BRIDGE,USA TODAY SPORTS Landry Jones, center, completed eight of 12 passes for 168 yards and two touchdowns. F or a league that was maligned a s the leftovers and mismatched parts of realignment, the American Athletic Conference has experienced pretty significant highs i n its 2 1 ⁄ 2 seasons of existence, including Central Florida’s Fiesta Bowl victory in the 2013 season and Connecticut’s national basketball title in 2014. But Sunday was maybe the most gratifying yet for Commissioner Mike Aresco, as three teams from his conference landed in the USA TODAY Sports’ Amway Coaches Poll — Memphis at No. 17, Houston at No. 22 and Temple at No. 24. “I’ve always been optimistic, and some people may have been skeptical, and that’s understandable,” Aresco told USA TODAY Sports. “But I always thought we had a really good group of coach- e s and a great group of administrators who would hire good coaches even if we lost some. They’re really building sustainable programs. This is not the Memphis of 10 or 20 years (ago). This isn’t the Temple of 10 or 20 years ago. They’re really trying hard to sustain it. We have big markets and brands people know a nd a TV deal that has given us exposure.” Aresco, who was in Memphis to watch the Tigers’ 37-24 victory Saturday against then-No. 12 Mississippi, said it was “maybe our most significant win ever” because it will change the perception of the league for the second half of the season. Memphis beat the team that beat Alabama, and yet with games c oming up against Navy (Nov.7), at Houston (Nov.14) and at Temple (Nov.21), the 6-0 Tigers are not even a lock to win their division, much less the conference title and the spot in a New Year’s Six bowl game that goes to the highest-ranked champion among the so-called Group of Five conferences. A t the same time, if Memphis were to run the table, it would potentially have multiple wins against top 25 teams and at least spark a conversation about consideration for the College Football Playo . “The UCF win in the Fiesta Bowl was important and helped establish immediate credibility, but this was maybe our most sig- nificant win ever based on where w e are now,” Aresco said. “Because now we’ve vaulted more into the public and media perception, and I thought if our teams kept winning it would be just a matter of time. It’s gratifying.” Since its formation out of the chaos of the old Big East and losing Louisville to the Atlantic Coast Conference and Rutgers to the Big Ten, the American has been trying to position itself as unique in the dynamic between the Power Five conferences and the rest of the Football Bowl Subdivision. This year, the American is 1816 overall against FBS competition with a few more non-confer- e nce games still to play. But more notable is the fact that AAC t eams are a combined 10-1 a gainst the Mountain West, Conference USA, Mid-American Conference and Sun Belt. The league is 4-3 against the A CC, including Cincinnati’s win against Miami (Fla.), Houston’s win at Louisville and East Carolina beating Virginia Tech. (Two of the three losses belong to struggling Tulane.) Temple also scored amassive early victory against Penn State. It would appear the AAC, at least for the time being, has separated itself from the other Group of Five conferences. “I’ve never wanted to make it about the Group of Five,” Aresco said. “Our sights have been set on trying to be in the conversation with the other five, and this year we’ve got seven wins against t hem and we’ve beaten a ranked team and a couple teams that might be ranked by the end of the season, so we’ve done that part of it. “It’s also important for us to win against the Group of Five because we’re competing against them for that New Year’s Day slot. It’s all come together for us.” Led by Memphis, AAC rising in stature Group of Five conference places three in top 25 Dan Wolken @DanWolken USA TODAY Sports DERIK HAMILTON, USA TODAY SPORTS Temple running back Jahad Thomas (5) and teammates cele- b rate Saturday after beating Central Florida. FIRST WORD ITHINK ITWAS BS. THAT’S NOTTHE WAY YOU PLAYFOOTBALL. I THINK ITWAS DONE WITH THE IDEA OF TRYING TO HURTOUR QUARTERBACK, AND THAT’S (EXPLETIVE) FOOTBALL.” Titans coach Ken Whisenhunt, on the Dolphins ’ Olivier V ernon’ s low hit on QB Marcus Mariota. MAGIC NUMBER 5.1 Overnight rating for Michigan State’s last-second win against Michigan, the best for a college football game on ESPN in October (dating to 2000) and the 2015 season’s second-highest, across all networks. (Ohio State- Virginia T ech on Labor Day night did 6.6.) SECOND M A GIC NUMBER 7 Seconds for Mike Grellaof the Red Bulls to inter c ept a pass and scor e a goal at the start of Sunday’s game against the Union. It ties for the fastest goal in Major League Soccer history. TWEET OF THE D AY @AROD I ’ll try not to break a nything else #whoops Yank ees star Alex Rodriguez, after overthrowing Fox’s Jay Glazer on Sunday with a f ootball and breaking a screen on the set. Rodriguez was on “Fox NFL Sunday” to be introduced as part of the network’s broadcast team for the World Series. LAST WORD “WE’VE GOTBIGGER THINGS TO DO.” Coach Marvin Lewis, when told his Bengals team is the third in fr anchise history to start the season with six consecutive wins, ac cor ding to “The Cincinnati Enquirer. ” He called it a “minuscule ” bit of history . Edited by Thomas O’Toole WHISENHUNT BYUSA TODAY SPORTS RODRIGUEZ BY ADAM HUNGER, USA TODAY SPORTS

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