“I could show you [Pittman’s] stats right now,” Fink said. “The guy’s a monster, you can’t guard him. And that goes with [St. Brown], it goes with [Vaughns], it goes with [freshman]Drake [London]. We’re stacked all across the board and, with weapons like that, you can’t do anything about it.” But there are rare occasions that a skill position group dominates so thoroughly that it overshadows a team’s lack of physicality and subpar coaching. That was the case with USC’s wide receiving corps in its 30-23 victory over No. 10 Utah Friday night. We have to start with senior wide receiver Michael Pittman Jr., who had a career-high 10 receptions for 232 yards. In a game that featured its fair share of jaw-dropping plays, Pittman’s 77-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter was arguably the most impressive, giving USC a 21-10 advantage. Pittman went up high to haul in the slightly underthrown pass, then held off senior defensive back Tareke Lewis while running 30 yards to the end zone. It was an absolute tour de force. “We’ve got wide receivers that are one of the most special groups I’ve ever seen,” Harrell said. “If they ever get one-on-one opportunities, they’re going to go win them.” USC was down two quarterbacks, had -7 rushing yards for the game at one point in the fourth quarter and lost the time of possession battle by nearly 18 minutes. How did USC put up 30 points and win this game? The answer is that USC’s three starting wide receivers were perhaps among the top five players in the game. USC’s prospects weren’t good entering the game. Utah was undefeated, destroyed a BYU team that beat the Trojans in Week 3 and displayed more of the physicality and discipline that helped them embarrass USC 41-28 last season. Things only got worse when freshman quarterback Kedon Slovis departed the game after taking a hard hit on the second play from scrimmage. Redshirt junior Matt Fink, who entered the season as the third-stringer, was suddenly thrown into the spotlight against the conference’s best defense. However, the most incredible part was that he physically dominated a Utah defensive backfield that features two potential All-American selections in junior cornerback Jaylon Johnson and senior safety Julian Blackmon. USC’s game plan at many times throughout the night seemed to be to throw the ball up and let Pittman go get it. Aidan Berg is a junior writing about sports. He is also an associate managing editor for Daily Trojan. His column, “Berg is the Word,” runs every Monday. USC’s other top wideouts deserve credit too, even if their contributions weren’t as flashy as Pittman’s. After being held to one reception for 4 yards against BYU, sophomore Amon-Ra St. Brown caught three passes for 32 yards on the game’s opening drive. He then beat two defenders for a 31-yard score on another underthrown jump ball on the Trojans’ second drive. “At times we threw it into double coverage, up to [Pittman] twice actually, and he came down with it,” offensive coordinator Graham Harrell said after the game. “That’s just having a special guy.” Redshirt junior Tyler Vaughns beat Johnson down the right sideline for a 29-yard touchdown on USC’s first possession, helping the Trojans to a necessary fast start. He also made an impact at the end of the game, drawing a pass interference penalty on Johnson that set up redshirt freshman running back Markese Stepp’s 4-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. Pittman has showcased all the abilities that make him the best player on one of college football’s best receiving units. His NFL draft stock is rising after posting 19 receptions for 327 yards and three touchdowns in the last two games. Pittman’s route-running is more crisp than in previous years, demonstrated by his ability to gain consistent separation against Utah. Utah’s offense left a lot of points on the table due to penalties and mistakes, and the USC defense made big plays when it needed to. Freshman defensive end Drake Jackson pressured Utah senior quarterback Tyler Huntley in the end zone in the fourth quarter, forcing an intentional grounding and safety. But the receivers played the biggest role in the Trojans’ victory. Much of Fink’s yardage came from the receivers beating Utah’s defensive backs to jump balls, a fair amount of which came in double coverage. Everyone knew USC’s receiving corps entered the season as the team’s best position group, but few anticipated they would be the biggest factor in a win over a team as good as Utah. To consistently win football games, the most important thing to do is to win upfront. No matter what people say about flashy position players, the best college and pro teams throughout history have dictated the line of scrimmage and dominated the point of attack. The receivers were so good that Utah had to change its approach early in the game, switching out of man-to-man coverage because it couldn’t match up with USC’s playmakers. Things won’t get easier for the Trojans as they head to Seattle this week to face No. 17 Washington, who defeated BYU at home 45-19 this past weekend. Washington has a recent history of fielding dominant defenses with elite defensive backs and that hasn’t changed this season. With multiple potential all-conference selections in the secondary, the Huskies’ defensive backfield presents a challenge for these receivers. If the Utah game is any indication, though, it’s a test they can pass with flying colors. The receivers didn’t win the game single-handedly. Fink impressed with several fantastic downfield throws, particularly a 42-yard bomb to Pittman on third down that set the Trojans up for their final touchdown.
Last month, SBC Events marked a landmark year in horse racing with a dedicated full day conference track at Betting on Sports, held at the Olympia Conference Centre in London.Jacob Lopez Curciel, OptimaAs part of the ‘Betting on Racing’ track, the ‘After the off – Opportunities in live betting’ session facilitated a high-level discussion around the opportunity to engage new punters with an in play horse racing product.Just a few weeks after the event, we caught up with Jacob Lopez Curciel, CEO at OPTIMA and a key speaker from this session, to build on the insight he delivered to a packed room of delegates at #boscon2017.SBC: Do you think the horse racing industry is missing an opportunity to engage punters with live betting products?JLC: The horse racing industry, as any other, needs innovation to keep the business interest up and to continue attracting new customers. Live betting and the user experience around the live betting will attract the interest of existing and new customers. If the user experience is good, the customers will use the services.SBC: Do you share the opinion that the speed and accuracy of live data represents the biggest obstacle to its successful adoption?JLC: Not the biggest, and not the only.First the customer experience, how do we drive enjoyment and eliminate frustration completely from the user journey to play “real time betting” on horse racing. What plus is the customer going to get in his experience to capture his eye and his time. A challenge that each operator has to shape and evolve, probably iteratively.Speed and consistency, both together, between data and video streaming, which requires systems and resources that are now becoming available at consumer level and in previous years were not readily available, a challenge that definitely we have the technology to resolve now.SBC: From an integrity perspective, do you think there is any chance of varied in-race markets such as first to fall or leader after first furlong?JLC: Transparency is the key. If parameters can be monitored in real time, it is more likely that competitiveness and integrity will be better and those markets could have a chance, some of them I doubt will be possibly suitable for betting without full transparency in real time, however I don’t think In Play betting must be thought only around new markets as it is often the case, In Play betting is more about the user experience and extending the times for betting than adding new markets.SBC: What can horse racing learn from in play betting on other sports?JLC: Only very low % of all markets offered get bets, quality more important than amountReal time data is equally or more important than live streaming for the customer to enjoy and for the operator to maximize the product quality and profitability.Technology used must be the right one, proven and stable, or In Play betting could cause serious damage to a business and its reputation.SBC: Can you trade in play horse racing algorithmically from the data? Or does there need to be a human influence too?JLC: A hybrid is required. 80/20 automated vs human interaction.There are many situations still that cannot be properly assessed and processed specially in situations of low liquidity no matter how much data you can process in real time. Submit Share Share StumbleUpon
1 Martin Skrtel has been charged by the FA for appearing to stamp on Man United goalkeeper David De Gea in Liverpool’s recent 2-1 loss.He faces a potential three-game ban, which would mean watching the Arsenal, Newcastle and Blackburn games from the stands. It also means Kolo Toure or the often criticised Dejan Lovren replacing him in the Reds’ defence, which has raised a few concerns from supporters.However, given Lovren has suffered lately with an abdominal strain and has withdrawn from the Croatia squad he may not even be fit for the Emirates clash.Here are a few reactions from some worried fans following the decision to charge Skrtel. Liverpool’s Dejan Lovren