Press Association It is therefore clear that the fault does not just lie with the manager and Downing is confident the players he will lead against Hull on Saturday know they have some making up to do. “They are a very honest bunch of players,” he said. “I have to say, I have been here for five years and every player is very senior and professional in what he does. “They feel accountable and there’s a responsibility for everyone when someone loses their job. “It’s important we galvanise ourselves and whatever decision comes from the top we need to make sure we control what we can.” Downing admitted there had been a real sense of shock in the wake of Clarke’s axing, but added that things had settled down during the course of the week. “It’s been a difficult time, especially the first couple of days,” he said. “Things have started to settle but it’s a big shock when anyone loses their job. But we have a game to focus on now.” It is an important game too, with Hull one of the sides West Brom are jostling for position with. City have been hard to beat upon their return to the top flight and Albion could have wished for easier opponents. That said, Downing is confident the team will be in the right frame of mind come kick-off. “I’ve seen it this week (their response), the professionalism of what they’re doing and their attitude,” he said. “We have to challenge each other and demand from each other, they have to raise their standards by five to 10 per cent. “We have to focus on what we are doing. What I am trying to do is cover all bases, organise them and pick the team. “There is a steely determination to put it right, but that has always been there. I’ve never seen anyone down tools. We have got to get out of this bad run.” The return to fitness of England goalkeeper Ben Foster will give Downing an extra selection problem, although he admitted to being happy at having a full squad to choose from. Like with any club, he knows some players will now be out to prove a point with the old manager having perished. “The slate is clean and we have 23/24 players who feel they want to be in the starting line-up,” he said. “I’m sure it will galvanise some of them and the new man will decide… (their futures). A fresh pair of eyes will stir the squad up. “Our form is relegation form but we need to make sure we turn it around and get back to the middle of the table.” Last Saturday’s 1-0 defeat at Cardiff was the final straw for the West Brom board, who sacked Clarke before the day was out. The loss took Albion’s winless run to six games and left them just two points away from trouble in the Barclays Premier League, with another startling stat being that the club have won just three league games all season. West Brom’s players have taken their share of responsibility for Steve Clarke’s sacking and are ready to put things right, according to caretaker Keith Downing.
Former USC receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster slated 96 yards on seven receptions last night against the Buccaneers. (Daily Trojan file photo)The NFL season is underway and Week 3 has concluded with the first- and second-year Trojans making an impact on their respective teams. Along with a talented crop of rookies, former five-star recruits and receivers Adoree’ Jackson and JuJu Smith-Schuster have demonstrated the USC football program can develop talented players and take them to NFL stardom. Sam DarnoldBranded the face of the Jets franchise after a resounding 48-17 win in his debut against the Detroit Lions, rookie quarterback Sam Darnold struggled against the Browns in Week 3. The pressure was on Darnold on Thursday night to show the Browns they should not have passed on him in the draft with the No. 1 pick. After coming out hot to a 14-0 lead fueled by a strong ground game and consistent quarterback play, the Darnold-led offense sputtered. Following an injury to Browns quarterback Tyrod Taylor, rookie Baker Mayfield played his first real snaps. The pressure was even higher as the two highly touted rookies duked it out, but Darnold threw two critical interceptions that overshadowed his solid start to the game. These errors resulted in a 21-17 loss for the Jets.JuJu Smith-SchusterAnother Pro Football Focus hero, second year wideout JuJu Smith-Schuster had a 134.0 passer rating on passes targeting him his rookie year, the highest for any rookie receiver in the last 10 years. It’s hard to say that Smith-Schuster is a breakout candidate because it feels like he has already broken out. In his first two games, he’s backed up his fan-favorite personality and eccentric touchdown celebrations with 240 receiving yards and a touchdown. With Le’Veon Bell out for the foreseeable future due to contractual issues, there will be plenty of opportunities for Smith-Schuster to showcase his talent.Adoree’ JacksonAfter posting an 82.3 Pro Football Focus grade and making it onto Pro Football Focus’ list of “Second Year Players Primed to Breakout in 2018,” second year cornerback, Jackson has not disappointed. While it’s hard to evaluate a cornerback’s performance based on statistics alone, Jackson has recorded plenty to justify the hype. In his second game against the divisional rival Texans, he demonstrated his athleticism while recording his first career interception over superstar receiver DeAndre Hopkins. Jackson has come into his own after a rollercoaster rookie year and is positioned to be a stud for the Titans, who hope to return to the playoffs this year.Ronald Jones IIRookie running back Ronald Jones II was taken in the second round of this year’s NFL Draft. Yet, in spite of the Bucs’ bottom ranking ground game, Jones has not played a snap with Peyton Barber and Jacquizz Rodgers ahead of him on the depth chart. In the NFL season’s third week, Jones hoped to have made more of an impact to balance the Bucs’ passing attack. He struggles to fit into the Bucs’ vertical offense as a player who doesn’t catch the ball much; Jones only had 32 catches his entire college career. As the Bucs’ backup quarterback, Ryan Fitzpatrick was thrust into the starting job and is averaging over 400 yards passing and four touchdowns over the first two weeks Jones will continue to find where he fits in.Uchenna NwosuAfter striking fear into the hearts of Pac-12 quarterbacks last year, rookie outside linebacker Uchenna Nwosu began what he hopes will be a reign of terror on quarterbacks at the next level when he recorded his first sack in Week 2 against the Bills. Otherwise, Nwosu has been relatively quiet on the stat sheet, but is seeing an uptick in snaps after only seeing two defensive snaps his first game. In spite of major injuries, the Los Angeles Chargers are eyeing a playoff berth, and Nwosu looks to be a key piece in a dominant defense this season.
DES MOINES — The convictions of two north-central Iowa men in separate murder cases have been upheld by the Iowa Supreme Court, but they each could get a new trial after their cases have been sent back to district court to see if their constitutional rights to a fair trial due to the make-up of the jury pool have been violated.Peter Veal of Lake Mills was convicted of first-degree murder in July 2017 by a Webster County jury for the November 2016 murders of Caleb Christensen and Melinda Kavars in Mason City. Veal’s trial was moved from Mason City to Fort Dodge after a change of venue request was granted due to pre-trial publicity.Antoine Williams of Charles City was convicted by a Floyd County jury in October 2017 of second-degree murder for the June 2017 murder of Nathaniel Fleming outside a Charles City apartment complex.In both cases, appeals were made because of the lack of African-Americans in the jury pool. The Iowa Supreme Court in their written rulings say it appears there were no African-Americans on the jury panel for Williams’ trial, while Veal’s pool only had five African-Americans out of 153 potential jurors, below the percentage of adult African-Americans in Webster County.The Supreme Court affirmed both men’s convictions and sentences, but remands their cases back to district court to allow further consideration of their claims that the juries were not drawn from a fair cross-section of the community in violation of the Sixth Amendment. The Supreme Court says if the district court rejects their claims, their convictions and sentences shall stand. If the district court accepts the claims, the defendants would receive a new trial.