Capitals

Adams will demand effort from SC star Clowney

Adams will demand effort from SC star Clowney

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) South Carolina star defensive end Jadeveon Clowney won't get any special treatment from his new position coach.

Deke Adams said he's continually been asked since becoming the Gamecocks defensive line coach how he'll handle Clowney, the dominant, 6-foot-6 pass rusher who finished sixth in this past year's Heisman Trophy voting.

``I think everyone else has thought about it way more than I have,'' Adams said. ``My personality won't change. I'll continue to be the person I am that got me to this point. I'll continue to coach hard and continue to demand perfection from my guys.''

And that includes Clowney.

That doesn't mean that Adams, who spent last season on North Carolina's staff, isn't much happier to have the junior standout on his sideline than playing against him. The Tar Heels and Gamecocks open next season at Williams-Brice Stadium on Aug. 31.

``That's always a bonus,'' Adams said of Clowney. ``He's a great kid and I've heard a lot of exciting things about him.''

The quick hire - Adams was named on Jan. 21, a day after longtime South Carolina defensive line coach Brad Lawing took a similar position at Florida - has not left Adams much one-on-one time with Clowney. The two talked last weekend as South Carolina hosted several college prospects they hope to sign next week.

``I got a chance when I shook hands with him why that football looks so small in his hands,'' Adams said. ``He's a great athlete.''

Clowney seems poised for a special season in 2013. He closed last year by getting 4 1-2 sacks on Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd in the Gamecocks 27-17 victory over their state rivals, then perhaps had the highlight of New Year's Day with his helmet-popping hit on Michigan runner Vincent Smith.

Adams watched the game with his sons, Jaylen and Jordan, and all three jumped up after Clowney's tackle.

``It was just an amazing hit,'' Adams said. ``But the game is changing so much, and it was so fast and so violent, I thought, `OK, they're going to throw a flag.'''

But as the hit was replayed again and again at various speeds and camera angles, Adams marveled at the textbook hit Clowney made. ``It was perfect,'' he said.

Adams was also amazed Clowney had the presence and poise to think about the football, which was lying on the ground. Clowney casually picked the ball up with his left hand for the fumble recovery.

The coach saw up close last weekend how much bigger Clowney's hands look in person.

``When I shook hands with him, I saw why the football looked so small in his hands,'' Adams said.

South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier believes he and defensive coordinator Lorenzo Ward made a perfect selection in Adams as Lawing's successor. Lawing was the Gamecocks coach who first watched film of Clowney as a South Pointe High sophomore with uncommon speed and power for someone so young.

Spurrier said he did not think the team would miss Lawing, who spent the past seven seasons on South Carolina, with Adams on board.

``He's sort of my kind of coach, good family man, wonderful personality. I think our players are really going to enjoy playing for him,'' Spurrier said.

Expectations for Clowney next season already through the roof. Draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. projected Clowney as the top selection if he were eligible this year and Spurrier's frequently called his standout linemen a ``three-year player.''

Adams understands it's now his responsibility to help Clowney live up to those projections. The best way for Clowney to achieve all he can, Adams believes, is to work each on getting better. That ability and work ethic will come through on the field if it's evident in practice, Adams said.

Adams is confident he'll work well with Clowney.

``Oh yeah, I think we'll have a great relationship. You can hear in his voice he knows he can be so much better than he is right now,'' Adams said. ``That's my goal.''

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3 reasons why the Caps beat the Sabres

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3 reasons why the Caps beat the Sabres

You may think this was an ugly four-game road trip for the Caps, but with a 3-2 win in Buffalo on Monday, Washington managed to earn five out of a possible eight points.

Here is why the Caps beat the Sabres and managed to save the road swing.

A missed high-stick (maybe) from Ovechkin

Ovechkin scored the first goal of the game in the second period as he deflected a high-shot from Christian Djoos down past goalie Chad Johnson. But did the deflection come on a high stick? The play was reviewed and the goal was ultimately upheld. According to the NHL, it was determined that "video review supported the Referee's call on the ice that Alex Ovechkin's stick was at or below the height of the crossbar when he tipped the puck into the Buffalo net."

NBC Sports Washington analyst Alan May broke the play down during the second intermission and made his case for why the NHL actually got the call wrong.

Was that a high stick? I don't know. As compelling an argument as May made, it still looks inconclusive which means the review made the right call. What surprises me is that the referee did not disallow the goal on the initial call.

Whether the review is truly inconclusive or flat out wrong, Washington was fortunate to walk away from this sequence with the goal.

MORE CAPITALS: BIZARRE SEQUENCE LEADS TO CAPS SCORING AND GETTING PENALIZED AT THE SAME TIME

A centimeter of ice

Hockey is a game of inches and it took less than an inch to put Washington up 2-0. When an Evgeny Kuznetsov shot hit off the boards and bounced back to the front of the net, it sparked a scrum next to goalie Chad Johnson. Eventually, John Carlson was able to get a swipe on the puck sending it trickling to the goal line, but Kyle Okposo was there waiting and appeared to kick it out to safety just before it crossed. A review triggered by the Situation Room, however, revealed that the puck had just barely managed to cross the goal line before Okposo got to it.

Here's the view the NHL released after the review:

Philipp Grubauer's third period

After dominating the first 40 minutes of the game and taking a 2-0 lead, Buffalo predictably made a late push in the third period with two goals to pull within one. Washington outshot the Sabres in the first and second periods, but Buffalo reversed that trend in a big way in the third as they outshot the Caps 17-6. Grubauer turned aside 15 of those shots and was impressive after barely being tested in the first two periods.

RELATED: CHECK OUT THE 3 STARS OF THE GAME FROM CAPS-SABRE

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3 stars of the game: Caps knockout the punchless Sabres

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3 stars of the game: Caps knockout the punchless Sabres

Coming off an ugly 7-1 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks, a Buffalo Sabres team missing star Jack Eichel was just what the doctor ordered for the Caps to get back on track. Washington dominated the first two periods and then survived a late surge from Buffalo for the 3-2 win.

After battling to a scoreless first, Alex Ovechkin and John Carlson spotted Washington a 2-0 lead in the second. They then held on in the third period as Buffalo began to tilt the ice in their favor, with Evgeny Kuznetsov scoring the empty-netter to put this game out of reach. Evander Kane would pull Buffalo within one, but with only three seconds left it was too little, too late.

Here are the three stars of the game:

1. Alex Ovechkin: Ovechkin opened up the scoring in the second period as he deflected down an innocent shot from Christian Djoos past Chad Johnson.

Ovechkin also set a physical tone as he battled with defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen all game long. After taking a high elbow from Ristolainen early in the game Ovechkin skated up to Ristolainen prior to the faceoff on his next shift and let him know that it was on. 

2. John Carlson: Carlson had a hand in both of Washington's first two goals. He recorded a secondary assist on Ovechkin's goal as he made a blue line pass to Djoos which Djoos fired on net and Ovechkin deflected. Carlson then managed to hit the puck past the goal line in a scrum next to Johnson. It looked initially like Kyle Okposo had managed to kick out the puck just before it crossed, but Carlson was awarded the goal as a review showed the puck had completely crossed the line.

3. Philipp Grubauer: A Sabres team that ranks last in the NHL in scoring and that was also without its leading scorer did not test Grubauer much in the first two periods. Facing a 2-0 deficit, however, Buffalo made a third period push to try to tie the game, but Grubauer was up to the task as he turned aside 15 of the 17 shots he faced in the final 20 minutes. He finished with 32 total saves on the night.