Redskins

12th-ranked Gamecocks back from off week, injuries

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12th-ranked Gamecocks back from off week, injuries

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said his 12th-ranked Gamecocks are refreshed and ready to finish the season strong after a much-needed week off.

South Carolina (7-2, 5-2 Southeastern Conference) had climbed to third in the Top 25 and was in the thick of the national title chase a month ago. Then came defeats at LSU and Florida. And the Gamecocks managed to end that losing streak against Tennessee two weeks ago, it came at a terrible price - the loss of star tailback Marcus Lattimore for the season with a gruesome knee injury.

``I think our team and players enjoyed the week off,'' Spurrier said Tuesday. ``I think we needed it.''

The down time gave banged up players like defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles and running back Brandon Wilds the chance to heal. It also allowed the team to deal with the devastating news of Lattimore's absence.

``The bye week gave us the time to get everything right,'' said tight end Justice Cunningham, like Lattimore a Gamecock captain. ``Me personally, I was trying to let everybody know what we've been talking about all year in the weight room, we've got to finish.''

That starts Saturday when the Gamecocks close the SEC season against up-and-down Arkansas (4-5, 2-3). The Razorbacks opened the year 1-5 after an offseason of upheaval with former coach Bobby Petrino at the center of it. But they've won three of their past four games and quarterback Tyler Wilson leads the league in passing yards per game.

South Carolina's pass defense was non-existent in its last game as Tennessee's Tyler Bray threw for 368 yards and four touchdowns.

Gamecocks safety DeVonte Holloman said the team addressed that performance during the time off, too. The defense has spent more time in the film room and paid more attention to technique since the last game, Holloman said, adding the fresh legs should also help.

``Having nine games back to back to back wore us down a little bit,'' he said.

Most eyes at Williams-Brice Stadium will be on the Gamecocks backfield where fifth-year senior Kenny Miles will start for Lattimore.

He was among the players who attended a rally on Lattimore's 21st birthday on Oct. 29 to show their appreciation and support for the tailback.

Miles was South Carolina's leading rusher in 2009 before Lattimore arrived on campus and has been a backup ever since. He took part in senior day festivities last year as he considered finishing his career somewhere else, yet chose to return and end things where he began.

He said is ready to carry the load again.

``I'm just going to go out there and make sure the offense keeps rolling and not miss a beat,'' he said.

There'll be a place for Lattimore this weekend, too.

Spurrier said Lattimore had successful surgery on his right knee last Friday and is now recuperating. It could take more than a year for Lattimore, who's told Spurrier he'd return to football, to make it back on the field.

Spurrier said Lattimore will attend the Arkansas game and have his name unveiled on the inside of the stadium as South Carolina's all-time leader with 41 touchdowns, including 38 rushing TDs.

``So I think our fans need to know that Marcus will be here and I'm sure he'll get an ovation maybe like there's never been one at Williams-Brice,'' Spurrier said.

The coach was concerned with a few injury situations. Quarterback Connor Shaw probably wouldn't have been able to play if the Gamecocks had a game last week because of sprained foot.

Shaw stood in the pocket at Monday's practice, but could not run well, Spurrier said.

``Hopefully, by the middle of this week, he'll be full go,'' the coach said.

Defensive end Jadeveon Clowney will likely need surgery in the offseason to correct a foot injury that's bothered him for weeks, Spurrier said. The condition isn't painful, but Clowney hasn't only worked about 50 percent of the time at practice, the coach said.

South Carolina has struggled with Arkansas in recent years, losing three in a row and five of the past six games. Razorbacks coach John L. Smith says that past success is a big part of the game plan this week.

Smith wants his players to understand ``traditionally we play hard and play well against these guys,'' he said.

Spurrier's calling on the past a bit, too. The Gamecocks have won 10 straight at home and are hoping to finish with six SEC wins for the second consecutive year, something the program's never done before. Should the Gamecocks win out - they face FCS opponent Wofford and No. 10 Clemson after Arkansas - there's a chance at an at-large berth in the BCS.

``I think our guys realize that we've lost to two top-10 teams at their place,'' Spurrier said. ``So if we can finish strong, we'll see where it leads us.''

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O-line, D-line is the move for the Redskins at No. 13, according to Charles Davis

O-line, D-line is the move for the Redskins at No. 13, according to Charles Davis

We are nearing the start of the NFL Draft, less than three days to be exact, and right now there are a ton of names circling around whom the Washington Redskins should take at No. 13.

You’ve probably read countless mock drafts at this point (if you haven’t or need another here is ours), and there’s one thing that is consistent: nothing.

So let's concern ourselves less of ‘who’ and exactly what each player will bring to the Redskins.

There are very few evaluators of talent better than the NFL Network’s Charles Davis, so he got to talk with J.P. Finlay and Mitch Tischler on the latest edition of the Redskins Talk podcast.

LISTEN TO THE FULL PODCAST WITH CHARLES DAVIS HERE

He broke down EVERYONE that Washington could be taking at No. 13 overall. If you don’t have time to listen (which we highly recommend that you do), here are some of the highlights:

“This could be a wild first night,” said Davis. “All of these different trade scenarios are out there right? My experience has been that most of that calms down as we get closer. There’s a lot of discussion and chatter about it, but we don’t usually have it.”

REDSKINS NEEDS:

“At 13, when you’re really down to it, Mitch I think you had said to me even before we began ‘O-line, D-line man, let’s talk O-line, D-line,’ and I think that is the perfect place for this Washington team.”

VITA VEA, DT, WASHINGTON

“If Vita Vea from Washington somehow is sitting there at 13, and the idea that you could go up there and put him a line and get Jonathan Allen back from last year, I think that’d be a great place to go. This is a top-10, top-5 talent in this draft that possibly could still be around at 13.”

“When we’re talking about the people that are in our business, the talking heads that people kind of go to and kind of get held accountable for their mock drafts… you don’t really see Vea in any consistency in the top ten.”

“Eleven is kind of the breakpoint for him.”

MAURICE HURST, DT, MICHIGAN

“I like him. I don’t know that I like him quite that high.”

DA’RON PAYNE, DT, ALABAMA

“I like Payne, better than Hurst, but again I don’t know about quite that high.”

“The medical, you can’t help it when you’re talking about a heart. You can’t help but be a little bit concerned. Now he has gotten clearance, that has come through, but we all know that each team is going to do it’s own research and got to decide how comfortable they are with that.”

QUENTON NELSON, OL, NOTRE DAME

“I doubt he is falling to 13, because if somehow he falls to eight to the Bears and if the Bears don’t run up to the podium and plug him in, I’d be stunned.”

ORLANDO BROWN JR., OT, OKLAHOMA

“Normally when you have a combine and you have some things that you have some questions marks on, normally you have some balancers. Orlando Brown had zero balancers. Everything was historically bad.”

WILL HERNANDEZ, G, UTEP

“Now Will Hernandez has had about as good a postseason as an offensive lineman can have.”

“This kid Hernandez has become a massive road grater, quicker than you would think, better pass protector and he did all of this on an 0-12 team last year. So he is another guy to keep an eye on, especially if as you said they are able to move back.”

DERRIUS GUICE, RB, LSU

“I’d be surprised at 13.”

“Get back to 19 and then I think Guice is in play at 19. If that indeed is the runner that they like. I think the running back renaissance is real.”

JOHN KELLY, RB, TENNESSEE

“I think this John Kelly kid from Tennessee is a really good runner. He had a little trouble off-field last year, missed a game because of all that, but this kid runs hard, plays hard, he’s not Alvin Kamara… but this kid is more of a pure running back than Kamara is, he’s just not a bulky guy.”

TRADING BACK

“They’re in a tough spot because of the number. We’ve got all of this stuff now.”

“That’s a tough one, because if I’m Dallas and I want to come up and get my guy [Calvin Ridley], I don’t need to come up as high as 13 anyway, if you really think about it.”

BILLY PRICE, OL, Ohio State

“He’s a really good player. The kid played guard, he played center. Price is a really good technician. 44 a possibility? Possibility. Before the injury he was going late-first, early second.”

This is only scratching the surface of what the expert talked about. Get the full experience and listen to the full podcast.

MORE DRAFT COVERAGE:

- SEVEN ROUND REDSKINS MOCK DRAFT

- ODDS ON FIRST ROUND DRAFT PICKS

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Can Gio Gonzalez lift Nats out of losing streak in series opener vs. Giants?

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USA TODAY Sports

Can Gio Gonzalez lift Nats out of losing streak in series opener vs. Giants?

SAN FRANCISCO — San Francisco Giants right-hander Chris Stratton will seek to duplicate two impressive efforts when he takes the mound for the opener of a three-game series against the Washington Nationals on Monday night at 10:15 p.m. ET.

The series is the first in San Francisco since Giants reliever Hunter Strickland plunked Nationals star Bryce Harper with a pitch last May, triggering a brawl at the mound that resulted in the ejection of both players.

The Giants got the worst of the altercation, with slugging backup Michael Morse suffering a career-ending concussion in a collision with teammate Jeff Samardzija near the mound.

Stratton wasn't with the Giants at the time, but he contributed one of the best-pitched games of his young career when the clubs met again in Washington in August.

RELATED: BRYCE HARPER HOME RUN TRACKER

Making just his third career start, the 27-year-old shut out the Nationals on five hits over 6 2/3 innings in a 4-2 win. He struck out 10.

It's the only time he has faced Washington.

Stratton (1-1, 2.22) has won just four times since, and came close to a fifth when he limited Arizona to one run in seven innings in his last start on Wednesday. He did not, however, get a decision in the 4-3 win, during which he recorded eight strikeouts.

The Giants will be opening a 10-game homestand following a 10-game trip on which they went just 4-6. Statton started two of the four wins.

Stratton wasn't the only Giants starter who pitched well on the trip. The club is coming off a series win against the Los Angeles Angels in which both Samardzija and Johnny Cueto took shutouts late into wins.

Strickland saved Sunday's 4-2 win for Cueto, and afterward was asked about his thoughts of seeing Harper again.

"Win a series," is all he would say.

RELATED: LATEST MLB POWER RANKINGS

In the Nationals, the Giants will be seeing a team coming off a high-profile series against the Los Angeles Dodgers, one that included a meeting on Sunday Night Baseball.

Washington lost two of three in the rematch of 2017 division winners, scoring a total of just eight runs on 21 hits in the three games, which ended with the Nationals stranding two in the top of the ninth of a 4-3 loss on Sunday.

Harper went 2-for-10 in the series, which the Nationals played without injured regulars Daniel Murphy, Anthony Rendon and Adam Eaton. They remain out.

Left-hander Gio Gonzalez (2-1, 2.49) will oppose Stratton.

The veteran has made 12 career starts against the Giants, going 5-4 with a 3.06 ERA.

He restored order to the Nationals-Giants series in San Francisco last season the day after the brawl, pitching 6 1/3 innings in a 6-3 win. It improved his record at AT&T Park to 2-3 with a 3.95 ERA in seven starts.

Gonzalez threw 97 pitches in beating the New York Mets 5-2 in his last start, allowing two runs and eight hits in 5 1/3 innings on Tuesday.

That pitch total wasn't even five times the number Giants first baseman Brandon Belt saw in one historic at-bat Sunday against the Angels' Jaime Barria in the first inning.

Belt fouled off 16 pitches and flied out on the 21st pitch of the at-bat, the most pitches in a Major League Baseball at-bat since 1988.

Afterward, Belt apologized.

"When I'm in the field, I hate it when a batter keeps fouling pitches off," he insisted. "I'm like, 'Dude, just put it in play. It's not that hard. Let's go.' So, I basically had to apologize to everybody after that."

RELATED: HOW NATS DROPPED FINAL GAME VS. DODGERS