MORE SEARCHES AS GARDAÍ LAUNCH CRACKDOWN ON ROMANIAN MAFIA GANGS

first_imgFlorea Mihaela, aged 34, who was charged with prostitution. She had almost 6k in cashGARDAÍ have carried out more searches in a crackdown on Romanian crime gangs operating in Donegal.It follows the shutting down of three brothels operating from the same apartment block in Letterkenny in the early hours of yesterday.Six people – four of them prostitutes – appeared in court as a result of an extensive Garda operation. The four will fly out of Ireland on a 7.30am flight from Dublin to Budapest tomorrow morning, funded from cash seized by Gardaí.But Donegal Daily can reveal that investigations are continuing into a Romanian mafia gang in north Donegal involved in a range of criminal activities including prostitution, drug dealing, theft, people trafficking and money laundering.One search even took place just yards from where yesterday’s court case was taking place.Gardaí swooped on a car parked near Letterkenny court house as cases continued inside. Two men were searched whilst their car was “taken apart” during the operation. They were held for a time and investigations are continuing.“Gardaí seemed to appear out of nowhere,” said one witness.“The next thing I know they are going through this car like forensic experts, checking everything.”Last night’s court report is here:https://www.donegaldaily.com/2014/06/20/gardai-smash-romanian-sex-ring-operating-in-letterkenny-apartment-block/ MORE SEARCHES AS GARDAÍ LAUNCH CRACKDOWN ON ROMANIAN MAFIA GANGS was last modified: June 21st, 2014 by John2Share this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Tags:donegalmafiaprostiutionRomaniasearcheslast_img read more

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Nerve Traffic Cop Identified

first_imgWhat makes signals go in one direction in neurons?  It’s important, because a reflex signal from a bump on your knee needs to go in the direction of the controlling muscle and on to the brain, not any which way.  Is there some kind of traffic cop that directs the placement of “one way” signs in nerve cells?  Indeed there is.  According to a press release from the University of Georgia, it’s the enzyme MEC-17.    Researchers were not attempting to cure a disease or derive an application from finding this out; they just wanted to know how it works.  How do neurons know which direction to send the signals?  It appears that MEC-17, which they studied in roundworms, zebrafish and human cancer cells, is responsible for placing the traffic signs, called acetylation marks, on the cellular highways made of microtubules.  The paths with lots of these marks are on the sending end, and the paths with few of them are on the receiving end.  When the marks are not set properly, bad things happen: zebrafish develop neuromuscular defects, and humans are subject to debilitating neural diseases like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s.  This discovery may lead to new treatment strategies by enhancing or inhibiting the action of MEC-17.    By noticing that MEC-17 works identically in animals as diverse as roundworms, fish and humans, the researchers deduced that “this microtubule acetylation process using MEC-17 is an evolutionarily conserved function.”  Conserved means un-evolved.Saying evolutionarily conserved is like saying “aimlessly straight.”  It’s a meaningless phrase we should not be duped into thinking signifies anything logical.  This discovery emphasizes once again that things do not just happen; specific parts that are functionally exquisite are necessary for function.  One question the research team appeared to overlook, though, is what controls MEC-17?  If this enzyme puts up the signs, who is the foreman?  We are certainly not consciously controlling much of this in our bodies.  Most of it happens without our knowledge.  It’s like the infinite regress question: who watches the watchers?  The hierarchy of design must eventually stop at a Designer who is omniscient and omnipotent.(Visited 7 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

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IDC secures €30m French credit line

first_img“This loan will also boost our export credit finance, which has proved to be a key stimulus for the South African economy.” South Africa’s Industrial Development Corporation has had further success in raising funds from foreign credit agencies, the latest being a €30-million (about R334.5-million) credit line from French-based Proparco. According to the IDC, the demand for lending had increased tremendously due to the global economic downturn, prompting the state-owned lender to source funding from the international market in recent months. Last month, it secured a US$50-million (about R422-million) loan from the China Construction Bank Johannesburg branch to recapitalise its export finance book, as well as €60-million (about R690.9-million) credit line from the European Investment Bank to finance viable projects by small and medium enterprises in the industrial, resources and services sectors. “The funds will benefit a wide range of South African businesses that need foreign currency to keep funding their activity,” she said. Proparco southern Africa regional representative Sophie le Roy explained that this fifth transaction with the IDC would meet a crucial need for hard currency in the country. 17 June 2009 SAinfo reporterWould you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See: Using SAinfo material According to the IDC, the line of credit will be used to increase the state-owned lender’s capacity to lend, in line with their target of investing over R60-billion in the South African economy over the next five years. Alternative funding Proparco is a partially owned subsidiary of French development finance institution Agence Française de Developpement, and acts as a catalyst for private investment targeting economic growth and development in developing countries. Lending capacity “We have a strong working relationship with Proparco, which is demonstrated by the fact that the IDC is receiving its fifth credit facility from the institution,” IDC chief financial officer Gert Gouws said in a statement late last month.last_img read more

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Proteas women raring to go, says coach

first_img16 February 2015The 15-woman Momentum Proteas squad that will tour against Pakistan in Abu Dhabi in March was annouced by Cricket South Africa (CSA) on Monday.The side will travel to the United Arab Emirates from 10-23 March for a three-match, One-Day International (ODI) and Twenty20 (T20) series. It will be their first tour since their tour to India in November 2014.The tour sees the return of Masabata Klaas to international cricket after she took an extended break from the game for personal reasons. The 24-year old right-hand seamer is excited to be given the opportunity to don the green and gold again.Opportunity“There was a time when I thought I would never be able to come back to the team again,” she commented. “I am so happy and grateful to be given another opportunity. This is every cricketer’s dream come true and I can’t wait to represent my country again.”South Africa emerged victorious in their previous ODI triangular series involving Pakistan and Ireland in the UAE in January 2014 and went on to beat them again in the ICC Women’s World T20 a few months later.Coach Hilton Moreeng says he is satisfied with the selected squad. “It’s good to be back in action after the long break. The team are raring to go and are looking forward to another successful series against Pakistan.“It’s good to have Masabata [Klaas] back in the team. We have been looking at her progress for a while and we are satisfied that she is ready to take on international cricket once more.”The team is due to head off to Dubai on 9 March.Momentum Proteas ODI squad to Abu Dhabi:Mignon du Preez (capt, Northerns), Trisha Chetty (vice capt, KZN Coastal), Lizelle Lee (North West), Nadine Moodley (KZN Coastal), Marizanne Kapp (Eastern Province), Dane van Niekerk (Eastern Province), Shabnim Ismail (Western Province), Sune Luus (Northerns), Matshipi Marcia Letsoalo (Northerns), Ayabonga Kakha (Border), Yolanie Fourie (Gauteng), Moseline Daniels (Western Province), Masabata Klaas (Free State), Bernadine Bezuidenhoudt (Western Province).Source: CricketSAlast_img read more

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NBA: Lakers play safe with injured rookie Ball

first_imgFire hits houses in Mandaluyong City View comments Typhoon Kammuri accelerates, gains strength en route to PH Brace for potentially devastating typhoon approaching PH – NDRRMC Gin Kings-Bolts return duel set The Lakers open the regular season on October 19 against the Los Angeles Clippers. Wilson Chandler #21 of the Denver Nuggets splits the defense of Lonzo Ball #2 and Thomas Bryant #31 of the Los Angeles Lakers during the second half of a preseason game at Staples Center on October 2, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images/AFPLos Angeles, United States — The Los Angeles Lakers opted to keep rookie point guard Lonzo Ball out of Sunday’s pre-season game against the Sacramento Kings, letting him rest his sprained left ankle.Ball was to miss his second straight game since he was hurt on Monday when he came down on Denver Nuggets point guard Emmanuel Mudiay’s foot near the end of the first half of a pre-season contest.ADVERTISEMENT Frontrow holds fun run to raise funds for young cancer patients  BSP sees higher prices in November, but expects stronger peso, low rice costs to put up fight Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. center_img Nonong Araneta re-elected as PFF president LOOK: Loisa Andalio, Ronnie Alonte unwind in Amanpulo for 3rd anniversary NBA: Kawhi, George seek more for Clippers than beating Lakers PLAY LIST 01:48NBA: Kawhi, George seek more for Clippers than beating Lakers00:50Trending Articles00:50Trending Articles01:37Protesters burn down Iran consulate in Najaf01:47Panelo casts doubts on Robredo’s drug war ‘discoveries’01:29Police teams find crossbows, bows in HK university01:35Panelo suggests discounted SEA Games tickets for students02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games Lakers coach Luke Walton said Ball, the second overall selection in the draft in June, had trouble with lateral movement.There was some suggestion Ball could miss the rest of the pre-season.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSWATCH: Drones light up sky in final leg of SEA Games torch runSPORTSSEA Games: Philippines picks up 1st win in men’s water poloSPORTSMalditas save PH from shutout“I hope not, but yeah, that’s a possibility,” Walton said. “It is different with every player. He is new to the team, so we’ve got to see how long these types of injuries take him to come back from.“We’d like to have him back, but again, we are not going to rush him back just to try to get him out there.” LATEST STORIES Read Next MOST READ Kammuri turning to super typhoon less likely but possible — Pagasalast_img read more

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Saina & co win, India continue good run

first_imgTop seed Saina Nehwal breezed through her match as India continued their rampaging run in the tournament with all the shuttlers in the singles and doubles category winning their respective matches in the individual badminton event of the Commonwealth Games on Sunday.World number three Saina thrashed Sarah Thomas of Wales 21-5 21-9 to reach closer to her first Commonwealth games gold, while Melbourne bronze medallist Chetan Anand beat Nigerian Ola Fagbemi 21-12 21-6 in 21 minutes to stay on course of bettering his record at the sporting extravaganza.Debutants P Kashyap and Aditi Mutatkar also stormed into the third round in the singles event with straight-game victories in their second round match.Sixth seed Kashyap saw off 21-5 21-12 Jamaican Pyne Charles, while Pune girl Aditi, seeded fifth, took 17 minutes to make short work of Sri Lankan Subodha Kumari 21-14 21-7 in another match at the Siri Fort sport complex here.Mixed doubles pair of Jwala Gutta and V Diju, who got a bye in the first round, also stormed into the next round with a 21-13 21-8 spanking of Jamaican Henry Gareth Andre Theodore and Kristal Karjohn Fayonne in a 14-minute match.While Sanave Thomas and Aparna Balan also continued their good run and beat Nigerian combo of Fagbemi Ebenezar Olaoluwa and Braimah Hajara Maria 21-10 21-8 to reach the third round.Rupesh Kumar and Ashwini Ponnappa also struggled past Australian duo of Veeran Raj and Vithi Veeran Renuga 21-16 18-21 21-18 in a 36-minute battle.Earlier, Aditi had a shaky start as she allowed the Sri Lankan to open a 5-2 lead but the Indian soon clawed back at 9-8 and after surviving some crucial moments moved to 16-13 before pocketing the game.advertisementIn the next game, she didn’t give Subodha any chance and moved to 11-4 at the break and held her fort to claim an easy win.Kashyap too didn’t face much of a challenge from the Jamaican as he moved to 5-2 first before registering 12 straight points to zoom to 19-5. The next game too saw Kashyap zoomed to a 6-0 lead and held his fort to canter to an easy win.”It was a kind of easy match. I played a lot of strokes and I had a good rhythm going. In the second game I played a lot of cross court shots and taps and it gave me good points.The next match will be tougher. I hope to do well,” he said.Saina, who got a bye in the first match, took the court amid the cheers of the crowd and the Indian straight away got into business moving to 11-3 at the break.She kept the shuttle down and played cross court shots to make Sarah huff and puff across the court, grabbing next 10 points while conceding just one to wrap up the first game.The next game was no different, although Saina had a few problem with her cross court smashes but a change of racquet made things easier for her.”My strokes were coming good today and I played faster. I have been playing well during the team events as well. A few of my cross court smashes went out in the second game but otherwise I didn’t make any glaring mistake,” Saina said.Second seeds Jwala and Diju, meanwhile, took some giant strides as they moved from 6-4 to 13-8 and 18-10 before wrapping it up at 21-13 in the first game.The second game was no different as the Indian duo jumped to 6-2 before moving to 11-6 at the break, before grabbing six straight points to widen the gap to 18-7.”We played very freely today and our shots were also coming good. When you play team events there is an amount of pressure which comes from the sense of responsibility. So today it was different and it was lighter. We hope to continue our good run,” Jwala said.last_img read more

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John Dunsworth best known as Trailer Park Boys Mr Lahey dies at

first_imgAdvertisement Advertisement John Dunsworth, left, as Mr. Lahey on “Trailer Park Boys.”  (SHOWCASE)   Twitter “With heavy and broken hearts the family of John F. Dunsworth would like to let people know that our amazing husband, father and grandfather John Dunsworth has passed away,” the statement said.“John left this world peacefully after a short and unexpected illness. The family would like to request that our privacy is respected during this time of grief.” Login/Register With: Facebook Advertisement John Dunsworth on the red carpet at the 2010 Genie Awards. Dunsworth, originally from Bridgewater, N.S., is known for playing Mr. Lahey on the “Trailer Park Boys,” but was also involved in community theatre for decades. (KEITH BEATY / TORONTO STAR) Actor Bernard Robichaud, who portrays Cyrus on the show, called Dunsworth a Canadian icon.“My theatre teacher, a loving father, husband, and a friend to many, you will be greatly missed,” he wrote on Twitter.American comedian Tom Arnold also expressed his sympathies, writing on Twitter: “So sad. RIP John Dunsworth. One of the finest men and most brilliant actors I’ve ever had the honour to work with.”Fans were recalling some of his most notorious moments on the Trailer Park Boys, including when Mr. Lahey declared: “I am the liquor.”Dunsworth was also known for playing reporter Dave Teagues on the supernatural drama series, Haven.By ALY THOMSON – The Canadian Press Dunsworth’s daughter Sarah, who is also a star of the Trailer Park Boys, shared the same statement on her own Twitter feed.pic.twitter.com/7H1KkEOsiR— Sarah Dunsworth (@SarahDunsworth) October 16, 2017Dunsworth, originally from Bridgewater, N.S., is known for his portrayal of Mr. Lahey on the Trailer Park Boys, a frequently drunk former police officer turned trailer park supervisor.He was also involved in community theatre for decades.A post on the Trailer Park Boys Facebook page Monday evening said: “We’re all in shock and heartbroken by the sudden loss of our dear friend.”Condolences for the beloved actor were pouring in on social media, including several from his fellow Trailer Park Boys cast members.Mike Smith, known as Bubbles on the Trailer Park Boys, tweeted that he is “beyond devastated.”“John was a beautiful guy. Brilliant and fascinating. I am forever grateful for having known him. RIP my friend,” Smith said. HALIFAX—John Dunsworth, known for his portrayal of Jim Lahey in the comedy series Trailer Park Boys and revered as a brilliant actor with a warm heart, has died.He was 71.The news was confirmed in a statement posted on his Twitter feed Monday evening. LEAVE A REPLY Cancel replyLog in to leave a comment last_img read more

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LeBron And The Cavs Could Make Dwyane Wade Young Again

2015-16Miami5.0– 2008-09Miami3.1– 2016-17Chicago3.1%– The percentage of Wade’s offense that came from cuts to the basket basically doubled during the years he teamed with LeBron and then dropped back to its original level as soon as James went back to Cleveland. Source: ESPN Stats & Information Group Utah Jazz23461238.2 After being bought out by the Chicago Bulls, 12-time All-Star Dwyane Wade had a handful of solid options to consider when deciding which team to sign with.There was the fairy-tale possibility of rejoining the Heat, the franchise he was drafted by and where he won three titles. The suddenly fortified Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs — the team that effectively ended Miami’s Big Three era back in 2014 by winning the title that year — were also suitors. But as enticing as those teams might have been, none of them have LeBron James.So it isn’t surprising that Wade is choosing to sign in Cleveland, where he not only has a great chance at reaching the NBA Finals again but also gets to reunite with one of his closest friends. But if we only examine those two factors, we might be overlooking the biggest incentive Wade has in all this: LeBron and the Cavs may be a fountain of youth for the 35-year-old.James makes life easier for everyone he plays with (well, Mario Chalmers might disagree), and Wade was no exception while the two were in Miami. Wade logged career bests in effective field-goal percentage and true shooting percentage during that four-year run, from his age-29 to age-32 seasons. His stark improvement as an off-ball threat — specifically as a cutter who would make his break toward the basket while defenses were preoccupied with James — helped take the Heat’s offense to another level. 2007-08Miami3.0– 2012-13Miami11.4– TEAMMAKESATTEMPTSSHARE So depending on how quickly the duo jells (or re-jells), Wade may get far easier shots than he got last season in Chicago, when he generated just 3 percent of his offense from cuts to the basket and took his average shot attempt from more than 12 feet away, tied for the longest average shot distance of his 14-year career.Some will question whether Wade — and to a greater extent, Derrick Rose — is a good enough jump shooter to keep defenses honest while James is running the show and probing for driving lanes. But a closer evaluation of Wade’s game suggests that he can more than hold his own as an off-ball threat if used properly.Wade has shown himself to be a competent 3-point shooter when stationed in the corner, shooting almost 38 percent138 of 101. from the corner in the seven seasons since James signed with Miami in 2010 — considerably better than his 27 percent2147 of 550. on all other 3-point tries over that same span. That’s particularly meaningful for Cleveland, which led the NBA in corner 3-point makes and attempts by a huge margin, according to ESPN Stats & Information Group. (Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Cavs launch far more corner triples when James — one of the best passers in the sport — is on the court compared to when he’s on the bench.) Wade cut to the basket far more when playing with LeBron CORNER 3S 2013-14Miami9.4– 2014-15Miami4.3– Cleveland Cavaliers35385041.5% Boston Celtics25362340.6 2009-10Miami4.6– 2011-12Miami8.6– SEASONTEAMSHARE OF OFFENSE THAT STEMS FROM CUTTING TO THE BASKET 2010-11Miami6.5– The years in bold highlight seasons in which Dwyane Wade was teammates with LeBron James.Source: Synergy Sports Technology Houston Rockets26769038.7 Miami Heat27769040.1 The Cavs take (and make) more corner 3s than anyone elseFor the 2016-17 regular season One variable that figures to be vital is how much Wade is being asked to do; especially in an offense that already features LeBron, Rose, the oft-forgotten Kevin Love and, at some point after the new year, Isaiah Thomas, who was acquired in the Kyrie Irving deal. It’s not hard to imagine Wade frequently handling the ball to give James a rest, though his game and Rose’s are similar in that both can develop tunnel vision when they’re driving to the basket.It would be wise for Cleveland to take a conservative approach that helps maintain Wade’s aging body for the postseason. J.R. Smith is seemingly a better fit for the Cavs’ starting lineup, thanks to both his size and his superior outside shooting.None of this is meant to suggest that Wade will be a perfect fit with the Cavs, as there are a handful of things that James and Wade simply won’t be able to replicate this many years after their first partnership. Chief among them: The swarming, blitzing defense the Heat used to trap pick-and-rolls. (Chris Bosh was truly special defensively with those teams.) In fact, a defense featuring the two of them might be a half-step slow now.However, even if Wade performs more fluidly during the regular season, it’s possible that, given his age, he and his body may not be totally dependable come playoff time, no matter how the Cavs manage his minutes. The 2014 Finals, in which the Heat got blasted by San Antonio four games to one, were a prime example.But if there’s one thing we’ve seen with Wade’s game in the past, it’s that James’s presence — as it has done for many others — will lessen the physical toll on Wade and possibly help offset the effects of Father Time. And that means the Cavaliers have little to lose with this signing. read more

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Can Oklahoma Survive The Opening Half To Compete With Alabama

Percentage of plays for zero or negative yards25.6%26.6 Notre Dame6940 The Sooners have gotten better under MurrayOklahoma’s offensive production in 2018, with Kyler Murray at quarterback, vs. 2017, with Baker Mayfield at quarterback Oklahoma12854 TeamOffensive SnapsDefensive Snaps 20075.05373.8224.522.626.4 20106.96444.1261.222.133.4 20166.47455.3210.321.031.9 20095.96403.0187.920.630.1 Percentage of first downs or TDs per play41.0%37.6 One year ago, the Oklahoma Sooners fielded the worst defense to ever qualify for the College Football Playoff. Under first-year head coach Lincoln Riley, and behind Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma took a 17-point lead on Georgia, the eventual national runner-up, before losing in the Rose Bowl semifinal. Twelve months later, Riley has another Heisman-winning quarterback in Kyler Murray and has piloted another one-dimensional Sooners team to a playoff berth.The reward — a date with Alabama, college football’s lead power broker — seems more like a punishment. The Tide, long a defensive force under coach Nick Saban, now boast what’s likely the best offense in program history. Las Vegas oddsmakers cared not for Oklahoma’s three-game winning streak against the Tide and opened with Alabama as two-touchdown favorites. According to FiveThirtyEight’s college football prediction model, Alabama has a 41 percent probability of winning the national title. Oklahoma faces much taller odds, with an 11 percent probability of winning it all.Here’s what to look for the when the two programs meet in the Orange Bowl semifinal Saturday at 8 p.m. Eastern.Will Tua Tagovailoa or Kyler Murray win the QB showdown?Seldom do a Heisman winner and his runner-up meet after the winner is crowned. Even given that rarity, this may be the best postseason clash of college quarterbacks we’ve ever seen. Both are coming off of historic regular seasons, with each in line to trump the record for Total Quarterback Rating, which ESPN has tracked since 2004 and is measured on a scale of 0 to 100. Bama rarely plays from behindTotal first-half snaps when trailing for this year’s playoff participants This is Saban’s most dominant Alabama offenseAlabama’s offense by season under head coach Nick Saban 20085.52355.8171.118.825.6 SeasonYardsYardsPassingYards1st DownsOffensive Points Per playPer Game Clemson6324 Metric20182017 20137.15454.1248.523.234.2 As if spring-loaded, Murray’s legs have minced opposing defenses. On a 75-yard touchdown run against Kansas, a broadcaster declared, “You’re not going to catch him,” before Murray had passed the 40-yard line. The junior is the country’s pre-eminent dual-threat wizard, whose 892 rushing yards place him seventh among all Football Bowl Subdivision quarterbacks this year.At the same time, Tagovailoa has been the figurehead of the Tide’s offensive ascension since replacing Jalen Hurts in last season’s national championship game. Saban has been in Tuscaloosa since 2007, and this year’s offense has been his best in terms of, well, everything. 20126.95445.5218.021.637.2 20116.46429.6215.221.632.1 But it’s not just the quarterbacks. In terms of offensive efficiency, this is the best matchup since the playoff began in 2014. Oddsmakers have taken notice, setting a points over/under total that’s unprecedented in the playoff era.It seemed logical that the departure of Mayfield, the No. 1 pick in the 2018 NFL draft, would abate Oklahoma’s offensive horsepower. That 2017 team had the most efficient offense ever tracked, according to the ESPN Stats & Information Group.1It has measured efficiency since 2005. But in Murray’s first full season as a starting college quarterback, the Sooners’ offense has actually improved. “Kyler Murray has accomplished more in one season and had more impact on the Sooners’ tradition in one season than any other player in our history,” former Oklahoma coach Barry Switzer told The Athletic. “He’s broke all the damn records.” Source: ESPN Stats & Information Group Yards per play8.88.3 20187.92527.6325.524.643.9 20176.59444.1193.422.236.1 Both Murray and Tagovailoa are having little difficulty stretching the field. If they keep up this pace during the playoffs, each would rank in the top three among all QBs since 2004 in single-season passing yards per attempt, with Murray’s current 11.92 mark in line to set the all-time record.They won’t, however, be competing against equally proficient defensive units. Murray will be staring down a top-flight fortress that spent the past few months razing offensive lines and leveling quarterbacks. The Crimson Tide rank second in defensive efficiency, behind Clemson, and they lead the country in adjusted defensive quarterback rating, which accounts for the strength of the opposing quarterback. The Tide ranks among the 15 best teams in opponent completion percentage (51.8 percent) and yards allowed per pass attempt (5.86).Tagovailoa will have the luxury of playing against a defense that might seem as though it’s providing Alabama an escort to the end zone. Oklahoma ranks 92nd in defensive efficiency, unseating last year’s squad as the new worst defense to make it to the playoff; the Sooners have allowed 56 touchdowns this year, 13 more than Alabama has allowed since the beginning of the 2017 season. Uninspired performances led to the midseason firing of defensive coordinator Mike Stoops. But the unit’s play hasn’t improved. After giving up 39 first downs to Oklahoma State, the most allowed by any FBS team this season, interim defensive coordinator Ruffin McNeill found room to praise his team for making “critical stops.”Pass defense, in particular, has been ghastly for the Sooners. No FBS team allows more passing yards per game (291.4), and only five allow more completions (22.3). The Sooners love to give up the long play, having allowed 56 passing plays of 20-plus yards, the fourth-most by any team.It’s unlikely that the turnover margin will favor the Sooners — even though Tagovailoa threw as many interceptions in his last outing as he did the rest of the season total. Oklahoma has generated 11 takeaways all season, the fewest of any qualifying team in the playoff era. Alabama has forced 11 since the beginning of October — and 21 in total.On the opening drive of the SEC championship game, Tagovailoa suffered a high ankle injury, which required surgery the following day. The sophomore has said that he’ll be unencumbered come game time, and given how little he rushes — generating just the 89th-most rushing yards among QBs — he won’t need much mobility. Even a pocket-locked Tagovailoa can still shred an opposing defense.Can Oklahoma survive Alabama’s first-half avalanche to win the second half?Players come and go, and each season carries idiosyncrasies, but the narrative arcs of the Sooners’ two previous playoff appearances were seemingly penned by the same author. In both, a lead evaporated and a dominant first half gave way to a second-half dud.In those appearances — in the 2015-16 Orange Bowl and the 2017-18 Rose Bowl — the Sooners outscored opponents 48 to 33 in the first half and were pummeled 49 to 14 in the second.2Excluding the overtime periods against Georgia in last season’s Rose Bowl. Those losses, Riley said,3Riley was Oklahoma’s offensive coordinator during the 2015-16 season. could be traced to physical opponents and conservative play-calling.Rewriting the script, then, will be paramount this time around for Oklahoma.Offensively, the Sooners seem to have the first half covered. No team puts up more first-half yardage than Oklahoma, which averages 313.4 yards a game. The team racks up 9.5 yards per first-half play — nearly a first down on each play. Riley’s offense is outscoring opponents by an average of 11.3 points in first halves this season, the eighth-best mark in the country.Of course, what separates Alabama from Oklahoma is its defense. The Tide allow 7.9 points per game in first halves, 12th-fewest in the nation and 7.9 fewer points than the Sooners. Alabama doesn’t just shut the door on its opponents in the opening 30 minutes — it packs their bags, shuttles them to the airport and ushers them through TSA. Remember when the Tide turned Tiger Stadium into a morgue by the third quarter of November’s top-five showdown with LSU? Or when the Tide took a trip to Oxford, watched Ole Miss score on its opening play and then blitzed the Rebels with 62 unanswered points, including 49 in the first half?4Alabama was playing a third-string quarterback in the third quarter of that one.LSU and Ole Miss aren’t alone. Saban’s squad is outscoring opponents 388 to 103 in first halves this season. On average, the Crimson Tide enter the locker room at halftime with a 21.9-point lead, the second-biggest margin by any team since at least 2004, the first year for which data is available.5The best mark over that stretch belongs to the 2010 Boise State Broncos, with an average 24.2-point halftime lead. Ninety-three teams have scored fewer total touchdowns than Alabama has scored in first halves. Only four teams in the past 15 seasons have scored more first-half touchdowns than the Tide’s 53.These lopsided first halves mean that the Tide hardly ever fall behind on the scoreboard. The average college football team this season played 178.6 first-half offensive snaps when trailing. Alabama played 18 — 32 fewer than the next-closest team. Offensive points per game47.043.6 Source: ESPN Stats & Information Group Alabama1812 Percentage of first downs or TDs per pass attempt51.1%49.4 20146.66484.5277.924.336.3 20155.89427.1227.121.930.1 National average177129 Source: ESPN Stats & Information Group Coming into the SEC title game, teams had run a combined 388 first-half plays against the Tide defense. They didn’t have the lead on any of them. Georgia finally broke through in the SEC championship; the Bulldogs ran 43 first-half offensive plays against the Tide and led for 12 of them.The nightmare doesn’t end for Alabama opponents in second halves: Then they’re outscored by a touchdown and a half, on average. In second halves, teams score 0.92 touchdowns per game against the Tide, tied for the sixth-fewest.Conversely, Oklahoma’s dominance tapers off considerably in the final two quarters, when it outscores opponents by only 5.2 points, which ranks 24th nationally.Little if any of that decline is attributable to the offense, which roars from start to finish. But defensively, the bottom seems to fall out for the Sooners after halftime, as they allow an average of 2.23 touchdowns per game in second halves, the most by any team in the Big 12 and tied for the 20th-most nationally. Riley’s defense has allowed 29 second-half touchdowns, the most by an Oklahoma defense since at least 2004.However, should Oklahoma keep the game close down the stretch, it has a peerless crunch-time quarterback in Murray. The Sooners have played seven games decided by 14 or fewer points, while Alabama has played only one. In the fourth quarter, when the scoring margin is within 14 points, Murray has a nation-leading quarterback rating of 99 — that’s on a 1-to-100 scale, mind you.There’s an argument to be made that Oklahoma is better equipped — certainly more experienced — to handle high-leverage situations.6Before the SEC title game, Tagovailoa had played three snaps the entire season in which his team was trailing. But Alabama has been so dominant that it simply hasn’t mattered. read more

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