August 16, 2019
While Pittsburgh Steelers backup quarterback to Ben Roethlisberger Joshua Dobbs has had some positive plays since joining the team a few years back, he now may be facing a roster elimination over the course of the next three preseason games.
That’s because Mason Rudolph who was drafted last year is thought by many to be the eventual successor to “Big Ben.” That and the emergence of an undrafted kid this year that has the nickname “Duck.” Devlin Hodges has opened eyes thus far at training camp in Latrobe, and in his first NFL appearance last week at Heinz Field, Duck partially led the Pittsburgh offense to a win over Tampa 30-28.
Dobbs vs. Rudolph vs. Hodges Who becomes #2 & #3?
In the process, Hodges completed eight of 14 pass attempts good for 79 yards including a touchdown. Mason Rudolph starts tomorrow night in Pittsburgh when the mighty Kansas City Chiefs come to town but Hodges will get playing time again so says Mike Tomlin. If you are wondering where the nickname Duck comes from, it has nothing to do with football. The explanation from Hodges:
“It’s definitely not because I throw ducks. I won a national duck-calling contest years ago. Lots of times as a QB, if your nickname’s Duck, that’s usually not a good thing.”
Out on TribLive, they have posted a poll asking the question, “If the Steelers were to trade one of these quarterbacks, who would you like to see shipped out?” When I checked the poll this morning, with 411 responses in, the results were this:
Josh Dobbs-82%, Mason Rudolph-10%, Devlin Hodges-9%
Uh oh. Not that these results would have any impact on Mike Tomlin’s decision on who the two backups to Roethlisberger will be but Hodges is doing all he can to unseat one of the two before him. His college credentials are solid. Despite coming out of a small school like Samford University, Hodges graduated as the NCAA FCS all-time king in passing yards with 14,584. That broke the record held by the late Steve McNair that the former Tennessee Titans quarterback set in 1994.
Hodges was also the winner of the Southern Conference Offensive Player of the Year three of his four years at Samford. In 2018 he won the Walter Payton Award given to who is deemed the most outstanding offensive player in Division I’s subdivisions. As an indication of his success with Pittsburgh this summer, the “Duck” has taken more reps in practice than any other fourth quarterback on the roster in the last several years.
For the record, last year Hodges completed 388 out of 550 pass attempts for an impressive 70.5% completion rate. In his four years at Samford, Hodges finished with a 69.1% mark. He also went over 4,000 yards passing twice at Samford. His high mark for touchdown passes was 36 in 2016 and he finished with a career total of 111. That’s an average of nearly 28 touchdowns a season.
The downside to Devlin Hodges’ college career is that his interceptions were a bit high. 16 last season and 11 the year before. 41 in four years which is a little over 10 for an average of this four years at Samford. He was also sacked 70 times or 17 ½ per season. But another positive is that he can fill in as a punter. From 2016-2018, Hodges punted 23 times for a 36.0 average.
As for his team, the Samford University Bulldogs led by head coach Chris Hatcher went 6-5, 7-5, 8-4, and 6-5 in Devlin Hodges four years there from 2015-2018 respectively. They made the I-AA/FCS playoff twice in those four years in 2016 and 2017 where they lost in the first round to Youngstown state three years ago 38-24 and then to Kennesaw State in 2017 28-17. In the Youngstown State game, Hodges completed 33 passes and threw for 372 yards including three scores.
In the loss to Kennesaw state, Hodges threw the ball an incredible 66 times, completing 39 while nearly throwing for 400 yards passing (396). He was picked off once and could only find the end zone once. The bottom line is that Devlin “Duck” Hodges is a very serious threat to make this roster and if I were Mike Tomlin, I would send the more than often less impressive Joshua Dobbs packing and take my chance with the two younger men who have shown much more promise.
Tomorrow night UFC 241 goes down in Anaheim, California and for a fight card that has 12 bouts on it, the lineup is very top heavy as far as good matchups go. The main event is the heavyweight championship rematch between the current title holder Daniel Cormier and the man he knocked out to win the belt, Stipe Miocic. Then there is a highly anticipated fight as the co-main seeing Nate Diaz making his return to fight Anthony Pettis.
Before I make my predictions on the major fights of the card, a few comments from some fighters who have reacted to the video TMZ Sports has released showing former champion Conor McGregor punching a patron of a bar in the face after words were exchanged. Three fighters speak their words below, one in support two very critical.
“It's crazy. All media stayed quiet; nobody posted about this. I can't imagine if I punched this guy how many media are gonna post it and talk about me. This is like really, really bad thing. Like, even if this old guy on video punch your face 10 times, you can't punch this guy's face. You can't. This is like impossible. We have to respect all people. I don't understand. I think these people have to go jail, brother. They have to go jail. This happened in Ireland? What happened about Ireland government? ... We guys from Russia have problem with visa, but why this bullshit guy don't have problem with visa in U.S.A? How U.S.A. can give him visa or something like this, respect or job? These people, they have to go jail. This guy McGregor has no class, no respect. This is very bad for sport. Some things he's doing are good for sport, but right now, he without his mind. He lose his mind. It's crazy and government has to smash him.”
“It was crazy, but who knows what that dude said? I’m sure something was said for him to do that. He’s not going to punch somebody in the face for no reason.”
“Somebody get me in contact with the old man. He deserves a real shot of whiskey instead of that trash the little guy was trying to force him to drink.”
No matter what your opinion might be, McGregor is nothing more than a punk. This is a man with two kids and a girlfriend he has yet to marry despite her giving him two children. He may even have a third if the accusations from one Terri Murray are true in which she says she had a one night stand with McGregor in 2017 and nine months later she gave birth to a baby girl. You tell me, does this child below resembles the MMA fighter? Khabib is right…Conor McGregor has ZERO class and has been consistently getting himself into legal trouble most of it in a violent way.
Now I pull out my MMA crystal ball and this is what I think about the big fights of UFC 241 working from the bottom up.
Raphael Assunção vs. Cory Sandhagen (Bantamweight)
Sandhagen is coming off the biggest win of his career when he defeated John Lineker in a decision last April. He has lost just once in his 12 fights that to Jamall Emmers in a unanimous decision while fighting in the Legacy Fighting Alliance in 2017. Assunção on the other hand has been in 33 fights winning 27 but he has fought some of the best fighters of his division. That includes Marlon Moraes, Alijamain Sterling, and T.J. Dillashaw. Assunção also lost to Urijah Faber with no surprise that it was a rear naked choke. I think experience wins the day here and Assunção gets the decision nod.
Derek Brunson vs. Ian Heinisch (Middleweight)
Like Sandhagen, Heinisch is taking a big step up to fight a much more experienced guy in Derek Brunson. Also like Sandhagen, there is only one loss on Ian Heinisch’s record. That loss was to Markus Perez who put an arm triangle on Heinisch to finish him in just one round. Since then, the American born Heinisch has won his last five fights in a row three by KO and two by decision. Brunson once thought to be a contender for a title has had an up and down career. In 26 fights he has lost seven. Two of those seven came in his last three fights where he lost to Israel Adesanya and Ronaldo Souza, two very good fighters.
In fact, Derek Brunson has lost four of his last seven. He is coming off a victory over Elias Theodorou but before beating Lyoto Machida and Dan Kelly, he lost to Anderson Silva and Robert Whitaker. Like Raphael Assunção, he’s fought some of the best MMA guys out there. That will give him the edge and Brunson wins by decision.
Now the top heavy card of UFC 241…
Yoel Romero vs. Paulo Costa (Middleweight)
This one should be a doozy. Between the two there have been 28 fights and just three losses and they all belong to Romero. Romero lost two of his last three outings to Robert Whitaker in what was supposed to be a title fight but become Romero missed weight it became a non-title bout and then the other loss was a first meeting between the two fighters. Both results were decisions.
For the undefeated Costa, since turning pro in 2012 he has won all of his 12 bouts 11 by knockout and one submission. That means NO ONE has gone the distance yet with the rising star. In his last two fights, Costa knocked out Uriah Hall and received Performance of the Night honors and previous to that was a TKO victory over Johny Hendricks.
This is a fight that could go either way but my gut is telling me Costa remains undefeated winning by decision.
Anthony Pettis vs. Nate Diaz (Welterweight)
This fight is so razor close it can easily go either way. This is the most difficult pick of the night for sure. What I can say is that Nate Diaz is absolutely one of the most dangerous fighters in all of MMA. He is well schooled in all aspects of mixed martial arts and can beat you in a number of ways be it by striking, on the ground, or with kicks. He likes to talk about how he is one of the originals and that he wants to beat the “Wheaties box dude” that is Anthony Pettis who once appeared on the cereal box.
Diaz began his pro career in 2004 and along his fighting path has lost 11 of 19 fights while knocking out just four opponents but submitting another 12. He has had just one shot at a UFC title and in that he lost to Benson Henderson by decision. Nate Diaz was however, the WEC light champion a belt he won by submitting Hermes Franca in 2006 which led to his appearance on The Ultimate Fighter 5 which he won.
Nate Diaz has fought the some of the best fighters of his era losing to men like Clay Guida, Gray Maynard, Rory McDonald, Henderson, Josh Thomson, Rafael dos Anjos, and Conor McGregor. He has beaten the likes of McGregor, Michael Johnson, Jim Miller, Donald Cerrone, Takanori Gomi, Melvin Guillard, and Manny Gamburyan.
As for Pettis, he’s been around for a long time too getting his start in 2007. He has won a UFC title, the lightweight belt when he submitted Benson Henderson on August 31, 2013. Many will remember that fight for the crazy head kick Pettis landed when he used the Octagon cage as a springboard to throw the kick. But his competition has been much stiffer that that of Diaz’s.
Pettis also lost to Clay Guida, and fought Eddie Alvarez (loss), Rafael dos Anjos (L), Gilbert Melendez (win), Donald Cerrone (W), Joe Lauzon (W), Jeremy Stephens (W), Henderson (two wins), Edson Barboza (L), Max Holloway (L), Charles Oliveira (W), Jim Miller (W), Dustin Poirier (L), Michael Chiesa (W), Tony Ferguson (L), and in his last fight a spectacular knockout of Stephen Thompson that saw “The Wonder Boy” go to sleep.
When the first round of this fight begins, don’t go looking for a beer. This is going to be a war from the get-go. Both men have said there will be no ground game it’s toe-to-toe. If that becomes the case, watch for Diaz to get bloody. He’s a bleeder but has a granite chin. He’s only been knocked out once that to Josh Thomson who stopped Diaz with a barrage of head kicks and punches.
Anthony Pettis has been knocked out twice. Tony Ferguson scored a TKO when Pettis’s corner put an end to that affair. Max Holloway finished Pettis with a TKO using a body kick and following it up with strikes. If this fight does go the ground, I believe Diaz has a MAJOR advantage. Nate Diaz can stop you in an array of moves on the ground.
Leading up to this fight, Anthony Pettis has done most of the yapping while in his usual self, Nate Diaz is just the cool, laid back dude who doesn’t talk a lot of smack and says F-YOU to everyone. He throws caution to the wind and could not care any less about what anyone thinks evident of his lighting up of what he said was CBD during his open workout and not a blunt or joint as some may have expected.
Again, this is an EXTREMELY difficult fight to pick. My gut says Pettis wins in some fashion, but my brain is saying that Nate Diaz is such a warrior and he never panics so I’m going to use my head and say that Diaz wins by submission in the third round.
Daniel Cormier vs. Stipe Miocic (Heavyweight)
Now for the big one…literally. Stipe Miocic is a big dude. He’s 6’4” and is about 242 pounds. Daniel Cormier is only 5’11” so he gives away five inches in height. At the face offs the other day, Miocic made the champion look small. While he was champion, Miocic defended his title three times which is the most in UFC history for his division. He has 18 wins and just three losses on his record, last year’s loss to Cormier and a loss to Junior dos Santos and Stefan Struve where “The Skyscraper” scored a TKO and the also former champion dos Santos getting the unanimous decision.
In between losing to dos Santos and then Cormier, Stipe Miocic won the belt from Fabricio Werdum but along the way to that title bout he had won six straight fights some before winning the title and then those three defenses as he defeated Alistair Overeem, dos Santos by TKO, and then silencing the monster known as Francis Ngannou.
Daniel Cormier will stand across of Miocic again, shocking him last year with an unexpected knockout and the former Olympian loves to boast about how he is the G.O.A.T. (greatest of all time). But he has not earned that label because there is a man out there who convincingly defeated Cormier…twice. Jon Jones was the victor and the light heavyweight champion has not lost yet. Jones may be the G.O.A.T. and not Cormier.
But Cormier does have a nice resume. He competed in the 2004 Olympic games but finished in fourth place. He was the Strikeforce heavyweight champion winning the belt from Josh Barnett. He also won a title in the King of the Cage organization and in the XMMA league. As well known he was the light heavyweight champion but won that belt when it was vacated by Jones who had to forfeit his title because of his PED usage.
Then Cormier became a two-division champion simultaneously by scoring the win over Miocic last year. 22 fights total and just one loss OFFICIALLY. When Jon Jones beat him the second time around, that decision was turned into a no contest because of the PED violation. Jones knocked him out with a head kick that left Cormier crying in the Octagon afterwards.
You talk about someone that has another fighter’s number and that would be Jon Jones simply owning Daniel Cormier. If they fought 10 more times, Jones would win them all. For that reason, he can’t be the G.O.A.T. But he talks like it anyway. Cormier has won seven straight fights split by the no contest and in his 22 wins has scored 10 knockouts and five submissions.
Again, this fight is difficult to pick. I think the first meeting was a fluke and this time if they start exchanging strikes it will be Miocic who gets the better of it. Cormier may be looking to go with his bread-and-butter of getting his opponent in a clinch and then riding him to the canvas where he uses his body weight to gain the advantage in domination of controlling the clock. Is Miocic strong enough to escape that? I’m not sure.
I believe the end result will be Miocic becoming the first man to stop Daniel Cormier and it will come by way of strikes and score a TKO when the referee calls that bout to a halt.