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So far Rock Solid Sports has created 79 blog entries.

Nashville’s “Lackluster” series with Winnipeg will change the Preds this off-season

It didn’t really matter who you asked at the end of round one, most people would’ve told you without hesitation that Winnipeg-Nashville was going to go seven games, one way or another.

But if you then asked who would win the series, well that could’ve gone either way as the NHL’s top two teams in terms of points were matched up in the second round. It was an interesting match-up as this was a series more tuned for the Western Conference Final with being the top two teams in the west, Nashville’s “bring the puck up on offense and play through our defense” type of style vs Winnipeg’s “electric and upbeat tempo” that was able to take care of the Minnesota Wild in five games.

This Nashville team was not the team that was seeded eighth in last year’s playoffs and made in all the way to game six of the Stanley Cup Finals.

But why was this playoff team different from last year’s playoff team? This article will take a more in-depth look as to why it was a lackluster series and how Nashville was beaten at their own game.

A common thing in the series was how Nashville just didn’t seem to jump at an opportunity when they had the chance. The two teams split games one and two in Nashville and headed to Winnipeg for games three and four. If the Preds could possibly steal game three and gain a 2-1 series lead, it would be substantial as it would set up only one more guaranteed game at home for the Jets.

Nashville kicked the door down in Winnipeg to start game three and held a 3-0 lead at the first intermission with goals from Mike Fisher, […]

LeBron James is on his last leg in Cleveland

LeBron James is more than guaranteed to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers after the horrible season they have had this year even if they make the finals.

James did well, but his team was mediocre at best during the regular season.

While they are still in the playoffs currently, only one member of his team made a significant impact and helped Lebron not have to carry the entire team.

That teammate would be, surprisingly, Tristan Thompson with 15 points and 10 rebounds in their last game with Indiana.

Kevin Love came on big in the Toronto series, but still that was really the only other Cavalier that made a major impact in the series.

Aside from the stats, the Cavaliers lack a championship roster. J.R. Smith can be clutch when he is hot, but he is getting up there in age and hasn’t been producing like he has before for Cleveland.

Not to mention Thompson has had his share of struggles, hence the surprising double-double he had recently.

Coach Tyron Lue and James have had their altercations as well. When this happened with David Blatt, he was fired. Lue has more respect as he has brought the Cavaliers their lone championship. However, with the arguments Lue and James have engaged in, it begins to cause a chemistry issue within the roster as well as with the coaching staff.

These are strong indications that James feels his days with the Cavaliers are numbered. There are also strong speculations that he is looking at the Lakers, 76ers and the Rockets.

James and LA have been connected for quite some time now.

When he was last exploring free agency, the Lakers were projected by a lot of people to land him and Paul George.

However, George was traded by Indiana to […]

Vols get much needed win over No. 13 Kentucky

Tennessee found itself looking for a much needed SEC win as they entered game one of a three game series with No. 13 Kentucky on Friday night.

Entering the series with the Wildcats there were only nine SEC games left in the regular season and the Vols were a game out of making the SEC Tournament. With a prime opportunity hosting six of their final nine SEC games the Vols where looking to start off the series with Kentucky with a bang.

It took a come from behind effort by UT, but the Vols got the win they were looking for in game one by a score of 6-2 to move to 9-13 in the SEC.

Kentucky would get out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning as Kole Cottam hit an RBI home-run that scored Troy Squires who had drawn a walk right before Cottam came up to bat.

Vols Starting pitcher Will Heflin would settle down a bit in the second inning as he walked one and had a second batter advance to first on a strike out swinging, however it was on a wild pitch and the batter would windup being safe at first base.

Despite the troubles Heflin got out of the inning without Kentucky recording a hit and leaving both runners on base.

The Vols offense would start to settle in in the second inning as well. Andre Lipcius lead off the inning with a single through the right side and would wind up scoring on a single to left field by Evan Russell to cut the Wildcats lead in half.

Heflin would get the first out of the third inning before being replaced by Zach Linginfelter.

Linginfelter would strikeout Cottam and walk Luke […]

No. 7 Lady Vols take game one of final regular season series

The No. 7 Lady Vols softball team opened up its final regular season series with a important 7-4 win over No. 24 Mississippi State in Starkville, Mississippi on Friday night.

The Lady Vols got things started off early as three of Tennessee’s first five batters wound up on base thanks to drawing walks, starting off with Aubrey Leach drawing a lead-off walk. Two batters later Meghan Gregg would reach first base on a fielder’s choice, with Leach advancing to second base. 

The next two batters Chelsea Seggern and Scarlet McSwain would both draw walks, Seggern to load the bases and McSwain to bring the games first run across in Leach.

That would also cause Mississippi State to pull their starting pitcher, as Emily Williams was replaced after just one third of an inning by Candace Denis. Williams would still take the loss for State even though she only made it five batters in to her start.

The Bulldogs luck in the circle would not get any better despite the pitching change as the first batter Denis would face drove in two runs when Ashley Morgan singled to center field to drive in both Gregg and Seggern.

Denis settled down after that getting the next two Lady Vols to come up to the plate out, but the damage was already done as UT put up three runs on one hit to start the game.

UT would add a fourth run in the top of the second inning as CJ McClain, who led off the inning with a single, would score on a single to left center by Holcomb.

UT would go up 5-0 in the top of the fifth when McSwain, who had reached on a walk for the second time in the […]

How Will This Year’s Rookie Quarterbacks Fit With Their New Teams

The 2018 NFL Draft was last week and much of its pre-draft hype surrounded this year’s ballyhooed quarterback class.

Five quarterbacks were selected in the first 32 picks, the most since 1983. Before the draft, I wrote an article breaking down the strengths and weaknesses of the five first-round quarterbacks in the 2018 NFL Draft.

Now that the dust has settled and those five signal-callers have found their new teams, let’s break down how each one fits with his new franchise.
Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns

Cleveland surprised many by taking Baker Mayfield with the first overall pick, but according to multiple post-draft reports, Mayfield was the hottest quarterback commodity in this year’s draft.

He’s the oldest quarterback that was taken in the first round and will be NFL-ready from his first day in the league, but Mayfield will have to earn the starting job in 2018 from Tyrod Taylor.

And not to get ahead of myself here… but do the Browns suddenly have a good offense? They have weapons everywhere, with Carlos Hyde, Nick Chubb and Duke Johnson in the backfield and an above-average offensive line led by guards Joel Bitonio and Kevin Zeitler.

Mayfield and Taylor will have plenty of good receivers to throw to, too, with Jarvis Landry, Josh Gordon, Corey Coleman, Antonio Callaway and David Njoku leading the way there.

Don’t look now, but this could be a legitimately explosive offense if they get good production from the quarterback position. Taylor will likely start week one, but will probably have a short leash, so don’t be surprised if Mayfield plays sooner than later.

Somehow, someway, Mayfield is in a perfect place to succeed in Cleveland.
Sam Darnold, New York Jets

Darnold was expected by many to go to the Browns or Giants, but […]

NBA Rookie of the Year Predictions

With the NBA playoffs now in the second round, the talk of who will be this season’s Rookie of the Year is at an all time high.

The NBA Award ceremony isn’t until June 25th, but there is a lot of speculation as to who will win the ROY award this year. Let’s list the two top candidates and what got them on this list.
Ben Simmons, PG/PF, Philadelphia 76ers
Simmons has been projected to win ROY since the beginning of the season.

He was injured and ruled out of his original 2016-2017 rookie season, fracturing his ankle in the final camp before the season started.

Thanks to the injury 2017-2018 has become his official rookie season and since the injury Simmons has looked hungry to play basketball.

He helped lead the 76ers to the playoffs and is a clear leader on that team alongside Joel Embiid.

Simmons averaged 15.8 points, 8.1 total rebounds and 8.2 assists during the regular season.

He lead this years rookie class in scoring and is easily one of the top choices for this award.
Donovan Mitchell, SG, Utah Jazz
Although it seemed Simmons was going to run away with ROY without any competition, Mitchell proved otherwise during the regular season.

He has been leading the Jazz on a tear and even won this year’s dunk contest.

Mitchell is a threat in the paint, on the perimeter and really anywhere you can imagine.

Mitchell averaged 20.5 points, 3.7 total rebounds and 3.7 assists this season. On top of those stats, he passed Karl Malone with 19 20+ point games as a rookie. Also, he set a rookie record with 186 made three’s in a rookie season.

Mitchell can back up his stats, his play is aggressive and effective. He has saved the Jazz from […]

What do you need: NFC North

In this installment of what do you nee, our own Mac Morey gives his take on what the teams in the NFC North need to do to take their games to the next level.

Chicago – Defensive End

Chicago has made strides in the past few years.

Getting rid of John Fox was a questionable decision at the time, but when the franchise turned around and got Matt Nagy it made a whole lot more sense.

This offense is gonna look scary next year with his quick no huddle complex offense.

The defense was a top half defense respectively and is also one of the youngest defenses in the league.

This team is on the rise, but still needs a game changing pass rusher.

The secondary with Kyle fuller and Prince Akumara will be fantastic, but could be even better if maybe Bradley Chubb could be coming off the edge.

If Chubb ends up dropping to the Bears this team would greatly benefit from having him and would truthfully be ill advised to not add him to the roster.

Lions – Offensive Line

The Lions recently made Matthew Stafford the third highest paid player in the league at around 27 million dollars a year.

Now that they have committed to that investment, they need to meet it both ways and give him the protection he needs.

This team is far off from being a playoff team, but if they start building now they can make a run before Stafford is done.

There are a plethora of positions that need to be addressed for this team on both sides of the ball.

However, now that this team has spent the money on the offense, they should finish off the project and give Stafford the best chance in the pocket to […]

What do you need: AFC East

In this installment of what do you need, our own Mac Morey gives his take on what the teams in the AFC East need to take their games to the next level.

Patriots – Linebacker
 

The Patriots defense struggled last season and even tough they found their footing late in the regular season and into the postseason, the Pats defense  was not what it needed to be in 2017.

This team cannot keep expecting Tom Brady to do the impossible, because obviously, he can’t.

Three of the final four teams in the conference championship games were the top three defenses in the league, the Patriots were the lone team in that bunch that didn’t have a top defense.

A number one ranked offense can’t always get the job done when the run defense was as abysmal as it was.

Pure rank won’t show that, but they allowed the second highest yards per carry in the league at 4.7.

In a division they are set to win yet again, they will most likely walk into the first or second seed in the AFC, which may just be a problem for them.

With Dont’a Hightower not being able to stay healthy for a couple of years now, releasing Shea Mclellin and with the loss of Malcolm Butler their defense is gonna need some grit.

They are also set to lost James Harrison to free agency or retirement and his addition proved to give New England fantastic depth at linebacker late in the year.

The signing of Adrian Clayborn was a good one, but past that starting front four, the Patriots will need to answer some questions before the season starts.

Bills – Wide Receiver
 

This Bills team never ceases to amaze me with the adjustments that they make.

Getting AJ […]

Who Is the Best Quarterback in the 2018 NFL Draft Class

In the weeks leading up to the NFL draft, there has been a lot of buzz about the strength of this year’s crop of quarterbacks.

Most experts agree that five quarterbacks will be selected in the first round of this year’s draft – USC’s Sam Darnold, UCLA’s Josh Rosen, Wyoming’s Josh Allen, Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield and Louisville’s Lamar Jackson.

Since opinions vary so dramatically on which of these signal-callers will be the best at the next level, let’s approach this differently than a typical scouting report. Before we look at each quarterback one-by-one, we’ll start with a blind comparison of the five quarterbacks’ 2017 passing stats. Before skipping ahead to see which quarterback is in each position, take a second to process the chart and try to match this year’s QB crop with their stats.

 

Key: Age When Drafted, Games Played, Yards per Game, Completion Percentage, Passer Rating, Total QBR, Yards per Attempt, Touchdowns, Interceptions, Fumbles

To give this chart a point of reference, here are three more quarterbacks: three NFL quarterbacks in their final year of college who have had varying degrees of success in their professional careers.

Can you tell which quarterback is which?

QB1 is Rosen, QB2 is Mayfield, QB3 is Darnold, QB4 is Allen and QB5 is Jackson. Meanwhile, QB6 is Jake Locker, QB7 is Andrew Luck and QB8 is Marcus Mariota.

With that out of the way, let’s look at each quarterback individually to paint a better picture of their unique skillsets.
Sam Darnold
Measurements: 6’3, 221 lbs, 9.38-inch hands
Pros: Pocket Presence, Clutch gene
Cons: Mechanics, Turnovers
Darnold is widely considered the best quarterback in this draft class.

After a very strong redshirt freshman season, Darnold was pegged to be the clear-cut first overall pick, but he regressed a bit in […]

Nashville Predators Vs. Winnipeg Jets Preview

The Nashville Predators have made their way to the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs after defeating the Colorado Avalanche in six games in the first round.

The Preds will face off against Central division foe, the Winnipeg Jets in the second round of the playoffs.

The Preds finished the regular season first in the Central Division with 117 points (53-18-11) with the Jets being a close second at 114 points (52-20-10).

Nashville took home the President’s Cup this season lead by their fearless goaltender, Pekka Rinne.

Rinne, a Vezina Trophy finalist, went 4-2 as a starter against the Avalanche, posting a .909 save percentage with one shutout.

The Jets had an easier route to the second round behind strong play from goaltender, Connor Hellebuyck.

Hellebuyck, another Vezina finalist, had a good start to his first career postseason appearance with a 4-1 record, posting a .924 save percentage while having two shutouts against the Minnesota Wild.

The Preds scoring was led by a surprise player in the first round in Austin Watson. Watson, who acts as a modern-day enforcer for Nashville, led all Predators in scoring with four goals while adding three assists and an impressive plus/minus rating of seven in the first round against Colorado.

Forward Colton Sissons also had a successful first round, notching three goals and adding four assists with a plus/minus rating of four against the Avs. Look for this duo to continue their dominance in the offensive zone against a tough Winnipeg team.

Jets defenseman, Dustin Byfuglien, had a dominant first round against the Wild, assisting on five goals while tallying 25 hits. Byfuglien is tied for Winnipeg’s lead in scoring with Mark Scheifele.

Scheifele, the Jets first line center, notched four goals and an assist with a plus/minus […]