Published on November 20, 2014 at 12:30 am Contact Jacob: [email protected] | @Jacob_Klinger_ Comments Sean Hickey makes it easier.He’s the reason freshman quarterback AJ Long says he doesn’t worry about getting hit from behind, why offensive coordinator Tim Lester can game plan for a combination of three relatively untested quarterbacks and why left guard Rob Trudo still forces himself to play.Syracuse’s (3-7, 1-5 Atlantic Coast) 3:30 p.m. kickoff against Pittsburgh (4-6, 2-4) on Saturday at Heinz Field will be a homecoming of sorts for Hickey. Posters of Heinz Field hung on his bedroom wall as a child growing up in nearby Murrysville, Pennsylvania. More than 100 friends and family members are set to tailgate and watch him play.He’s been battling through his own pains leading an offensive line littered with injuries on a team that now has no hope of making a bowl game. The senior’s college career has a set end date of Nov. 29, but he didn’t have to be in Syracuse at all this season. Hickey was projected as a second-round pick in the 2014 draft, but is now an NFL prospect with two more games to play.“That’s why you can’t say anything else except for thank you because he don’t have to do this,” Long said. “He could be out in California sitting on the beach, sipping on Margheritas, counting his money, but he’s here working.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textHickey leads an offensive line that does some of Long’s job, reading a defense and adjusting protection, Lester said. When the offensive linemen get set, Hickey shouts out adjustments that first Trudo — who’s played next to Hickey for three years now — then the rest of the line echoes, Trudo said.The linemen also use hand signals to indicate blocking changes to the running backs and quarterbacks, Trudo said. As a result, Long said he doesn’t have to worry about any of the opposing defense’s down linemen.“I know once we got a double team to execute, I know if we don’t do it right it’s my fault,” Trudo said. “It’s not Hickey’s fault. It’s always been that way.”But after staying in college to build the leg strength he hadn’t gotten to develop while rehabbing from a series of knee injuries, Trudo said Hickey’s improved his balance to the point where if he gets a hand on an opponent, the defender’s locked down.“I wasn’t able to develop everything I necessarily wanted to develop in the time that I had because basically, there was 18 months where I really couldn’t do much with my legs,” Hickey said. “So other reasons I wanted to come back and once I came back it was all about also playing here again, playing with my brothers, my friends again.”Hickey doesn’t say much. He told his mother not to bring giant paper headshots of him to Saturday’s game. When he’s home he likes to go fishing on Loyalhanna Creek.He doesn’t need to say much. The few words he does share among teammates stay with them, comforting but also prodding.In the week before Syracuse hosted then-No. 1 Florida State, Hickey told Long that it was the freshman’s job to lead the team, “‘Get your job done and we’ll take care of you,’” Long said Hickey told him.“It’s one thing that I’ll probably take with me to my grave,” Long said.Because while Hickey gave Long more confidence in himself, he said, he hears those words in his head after every game as he feels he hasn’t gotten his job done.Hickey also inspires his teammates physically.Trudo is essentially playing on one leg, Lester said. For three years, the junior left guard has lined up next to Hickey. They’ve become friends, forging a bond that silently reads defenses and each other’s mind and one that they both say they’ll remember for the rest of their lives.“I know John Miller needed me, I know Jason Emerich needed me,” Trudo said, “and most importantly, I know Sean Hickey needed me. And I needed him, so I wanted to be out there as much for him as possible.” Facebook Twitter Google+
BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Rafael Nadal defeated Dominic Thiem 6-4, 6-1 to win his 10th Barcelona Open title yesterday.It was the second consecutive week that Nadal had won a tournament for the 10th time. He had become the first men’s tennis player in the Open era to win the same title 10 times at the Monte Carlo Masters last Sunday.”It means a lot to me to win 10 titles here in Barcelona as well,” Nadal said. “To win in Barcelona and Monte Carlo gives me a dream start to the clay season.”It was Nadal’s second title of the season and 71st of his career. The fifth-ranked Spaniard had lost his previous three finals, including to Roger Federer in the Australian Open.Next month he will try to win a 10th French Open title. The last of his 14 Grand Slams was three years ago in Roland Garros.BREAK POINTNadal broke the ninth-ranked Austrian late in the first set and early in the second, then cruised to close out the match for his 51st career title on clay. He saved the only break point he conceded to Thiem at the “Rafa Nadal” center court. He was only broken twice in 47 service games throughout the week.”It was vital for me to win the first set,” Nadal said. “It was difficult. I had a few more chances than him, but it was very even.”The 30-year-old Nadal has won 10 consecutive matches and is 21-1 in his past 22 sets.Thiem, who had upset top-ranked Andy Murray in the semi finals on Saturday, was trying to win his second title of the season. He won in Rio de Janeiro in February.Nadal won five straight titles in Barcelona from 2005-09, then three consecutive from 2011-13, and now two in a row in 2016 and this year. He has a 10-0 record in finals in Barcelona, losing only one set.Nadal improved to 53-3 at the ATP World Tour 500 event.