Flyers Select Defenseman Sam Morin 11th Overall

Flyers Select Defenseman Sam Morin 11th Overall

There was a lot of talk that the Flyers could be among the movers and shakers at the NHL Draft on Sunday. Instead they wound up staying put at number 11, selecting 17-year-old defenseman Samuel Morin.

Paul Holmgren admitted the Flyers would lean toward defense, but the specific choice came as something of a surprise. The embattled general manager wound up passing on the higher-rated Ryan Pulock and Nikita Zadorov to grab Morin, the fourth blueliner taken.

Apparently Morin was something of a late-riser on draft boards. At one point viewed as a mid-round pick, he began creeping higher and higher in the prospect rankings over the past year. NHL.com lists him 23rd among North American skaters, up from 76th.

Morin is 6-6, 203 lbs., and turns 18 in July. Early reports are the Quebec native is a pure defensive defenseman, although the hope is he can develop more of an offensive presence. He’s probably a couple years away from joining the Flyers.

Morin posted four goals and 12 assists in 46 games in Quebec Major Junior Hockey League last season, missing time due to an upper-body injury. He added a score and six helpers over six playoff games.

He’s no stranger to the penalty box either, nor is he afraid to drop the gloves, racking up 133 total penalty minutes in regular season and playoffs combined.

There is a feeling the Flyers could have used somebody who would make an immediate contribution. With the addition of Mark Streit to the back end, the healthy returns of Nicklas Grossmann, Braydon Coburn, and Andrej Meszaros (assuming none of them are traded), and the impressive play of youngsters Erik Gustafsson and Oliver Lauridsen down the stretch last season, the club probably has time to allow Morin to progress.

There will possibly be some outcry over the front office operating outside the consensus rankings as well. Again, Morin’s stock was on the rise, so obviously the organization is projecting he will be better than what was left. Whether the gamble pays off or not remains to be seen.

The Flyers undoubtedly would have liked to move up and nab Seth Jones, who slipped to fourth overall, or even Darnell Nurse or Rasmus Ristolainen at seven and eight respectively. They may not have had the firepower to do so, at least not that they were willing to part with anyway.

So it’s Morin, over Pulock, over Zadorov – two players he will forever be compared to during his time in Philadelphia. Without an NHL-ready first-round pick, and no wheeling and dealing to speak of thus far, the Flyers are increasingly likely to be active as free agency approaches.

Vancouver Trades Schneider to New Jersey

Another development that could concern the Flyers was the blockbuster deal between Vancouver and New Jersey. The Canucks sent 27-year-old Cory Schneider to the Devils for the ninth overall pick, which was used on center Bo Horvat.

Not only did a division rival manage to land their goaltender of the future, but that should effectively put an end to any Roberto Luongo to Philly rumors. Luongo is expected to remain in Vancouver for now rather than receive a compliance buyout.

Luongo was always a longshot to wind up in Orange & Black anyway, but without the buyout that once seem imminent, it's one less option on the table for the Flyers.

Penalties the only consistent theme for Doug Pederson's Eagles

Penalties the only consistent theme for Doug Pederson's Eagles

CINCINNATI — There’s one thing the Eagles are very consistent at, and it’s nothing to be proud of.

The Eagles continue to be one of the most penalized teams in the NFL, and with 10 more infractions in their 32-14 loss to the Bengals on Sunday, they increased their 12-game total to 100 — second-most in the NFL this year.

Five times they’ve been called for 10 or more penalties, and that’s one shy of the most games in franchise history with double-digit penalties in a season.

And there’s four games to go.

The Eagles have been cited for penalties seven or more times in all but three games. They’re on pace for the third-most penalties in franchise history.

Earlier this year, the Eagles committed seven or more penalties in four straight games for the first time in six years. The last month, they did that again.

This is not a disciplined football team. Not remotely.

“The penalties are hurting us,” said Brandon Graham, who was called for a personal foul after a low hit on Andy Dalton Sunday. “You kind of get frustrated a little bit and sometimes a lot of stuff starts happening. But we have to clean that up.”

The Eagles are on pace for 133 penalties. The franchise high is 138, set in 1994 by a Rich Kotite team that lost its last seven games. The 2005 team — torn apart by the Donovan McNabb-Terrell Owens feud — committed 134.

The only team with more penalties than the Eagles this year is the Raiders with 112. They always lead the league in penalties and at least this year they’re winning anyway.

The Eagles aren’t. Their lack of discipline has contributed greatly to their current stretch of seven losses in a nine-game span.

For the Eagles, it’s been just another part of the season that’s gotten away from coach Doug Pederson and his players.

“Penalties have got to stop,” Pederson said Sunday night. “Obviously, the turnovers and things like that too. It’s just not characteristic of how we coach and how we play.”

But it’s how this team has played. Consistently.

Only against the Bears, Cowboys and Giants have the Eagles committed fewer than seven penalties. When they commit 10 or more, they’re 1-4

“Some of it is focus, and some of it is anticipating the snap count,” Pederson said. “Some of it is a little on the quarterback, because we’re using so many snap counts and cadences to get indicators from the defense to tip their hat a little bit.

“Guys are geared up. We’ve got to focus in on that, because it’s something we work on every single week. Obviously the silent count we work on every week.”

Here’s a breakdown of the Eagles’ 100 penalties:

12 — Jason Peters

8 — Jason Kelce

7 — Nolan Carroll

6 — Zach Ertz, Allen Barbre

5 — Jalen Mills, Fletcher Cox

4 — Dorial Green-Beckham, Brandon Graham, Carson Wentz, Malcolm Jenkins

3 — Nigel Bradham, Rodney McLeod, Najee Goode, Marcus Smith, Brent Celek

2 — Jaylen Watkins, Brandon Brooks, Lane Johnson, Isaac Seumalo, Destiny Vaeao, Trey Burton, Matt Tobin

1 — Kenjon Barner, Darren Sproles, Ron Brooks, Jordan Matthews, Wendell Smallwood, Vinny Curry, Kamu Grugier-Hill, Donnie Jones, Bennie Logan, Chris Maragos, Leodis McKelvin, Halapoulivaaati Vaitai.

And here’s a breakdown of the types of penalties the Eagles have been hit with:

22 — False start

16 — Offensive holding

10 — Unncessary roughness

8 — Defensive pass interference, offensive pass interference

7 — Defensive offsides

4 — Delay of game, illegal formation, defensive holding

3 — Roughing the passer, facemask, neutral zone infraction

2 — Chop block, defensive 12 men on the field, encroachment, illegal contact, running into the kicker

1 — Unsportsmanlike conduct, horse collar tackle, illegal block above the waist, illegal shift, offensive 12 men on the field, offensive offsides, illegal use of hands

Resurgent Penn State headed to Rose Bowl vs. USC

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USA Today Images

Resurgent Penn State headed to Rose Bowl vs. USC

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Penn State players and coaches rolled hopefully back into Happy Valley on Sunday, greeted as Big Ten champions by cheers and honking car horns.

They got off the team bus, filed into a meeting room and huddled around a giant projector screen as the College Football Playoff selection committee made its picks.

As the contenders were announced, it became clear -- this unexpectedly triumphant season was going to fall frustratingly short of college football's biggest stage.

The fifth-ranked Nittany Lions -- winners of nine straight, including a huge comeback against No. 8 Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship game -- won't be part of the four-team playoff. Despite a head-to-head win against No. 2 Ohio State, the Big Ten title and a run fueled by one of the country's most explosive offenses, Penn State was ranked fifth by the selection committee.

Instead of playing for a national title, Penn State (11-2) will face No. 9 Southern California (9-3) in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 2.

"I would say there were a handful of guys that obviously showed a little bit of frustration and body language and things like that," Penn State coach James Franklin said. "But 99 percent of the guys in there are just excited about staying together as a family and being able to play in such a historic bowl game."

News about the bowl destination quelled a bit of that disappointment, and some, including quarterback Trace McSorley , tweeted their excitement with rose emojis Sunday.

Franklin didn't sleep much on the flight back from Indianapolis and is about to start a six-day recruiting trip, but he was still clearly amped for the Rose Bowl during a phone call with reporters -- even though he believed his team had done enough to go to the playoff by winning what he called "the toughest conference in football."

"Obviously, our guys would've loved to have the opportunity to go to the playoffs and compete for a national championship," Franklin said. "But like I said during the week, I thought our guys would be appreciative of the opportunity to be able to stay together as a family for another week and play the great game of football."

They'll do so against a team that's on a similar trajectory.

The Nittany Lions and Trojans have combined to win 17-straight games and are among the hottest teams in college football. Both have mounted striking turnarounds after ho-hum starts, energizing historically strong programs that had struggled with the weight of NCAA penalties in recent years.

Franklin arrived at Penn State in 2014 and took over a program heavily sanctioned by the NCAA for the university's role in the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal. Although the Nittany Lions have a full scholarship load this season, they're still feeling the impact from reduced scholarship numbers and start just five seniors, with only 17 on the roster.

USC, meanwhile, incurred NCAA penalties, including the loss of 30 scholarships, in the wake of a scandal involving former football player Reggie Bush and basketball player O.J. Mayo, who the NCAA determined accepted gifts in the mid-2000s.

This will be the third time the programs match up in the Rose Bowl -- the first was in 1923 and the other in 2009.

"I think it makes for fabulous TV, that's for sure," USC coach Clay Helton said. "And it makes for a great bowl experience and that's what this time is all about."