Wizards

Geno Smith aims to pull WVU out of rut

Geno Smith aims to pull WVU out of rut

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) There's no quit in Geno Smith.

The West Virginia quarterback was considered a front-runner in the Heisman Trophy race only a few weeks ago as he led the Mountaineers to a 5-0 start and a Top 5 ranking.

Two losses later, Smith has the task of pulling both himself and No. 23 West Virginia (5-2, 2-2 Big 12) out of a rut at home against TCU (5-3, 2-3) on Saturday.

Smith had 24 touchdown passes in five games. He's has just two in back-to-back losses.

Now that the spotlight isn't so bright and the Mountaineers have tumbled to sixth in the Big 12 standings, the senior isn't down on himself.

``The main thing is you have to go into each game with the intent to win every one of them,'' Smith said. ``You've got to keep things in perspective.

``I remember when I was in the stretch of throwing 24 touchdowns and no interceptions and everyone was raving about it, but I kept saying that's just how football goes. I put everything behind me, and just try to do my best on every play.''

Smith's coaches say he has an uncanny ability to stay consistent and level-headed mentally.

It didn't change when he threw for 656 and eight touchdowns in West Virginia's Big 12 debut against Baylor, or in recent losses to Texas Tech and Kansas State when the Mountaineers were outscored by a combined 76 points.

``He's going to treat each game the same, and I think that's a great attribute to have,'' said West Virginia quarterbacks coach Jake Spavital. ``He's always the same guy, regardless. All the kid wants to do is play football and win games. He's a competitor and he will take each loss hard, but the thing I love about him is that he comes back in even more hungry the next day to get better and try to win.''

Coach Dana Holgorsen said that while Smith didn't have any physical fatigue, a recent bye week came at a good time for the quarterback.

Holgorsen reiterated this week that Smith took too much blame for the 55-14 loss to Kansas State, one of the worst home losses in school history.

``He needs to handle the loss a little bit better,'' Holgorsen said. ``There are a whole bunch of people that play in the game, and coaches that are involved in the game. So there are a whole lot of people that can accept responsibility for the game, whether it's good or bad. He's not responsible for a loss.''

But Spavital pointed out Smith is quick to fall on the sword after a loss because it comes natural.

``That's just him,'' Spavital said. ``He's the quarterback, and he has that whole persona of `If I lose, I'll take all the blame.'''

Smith quickly dismissed Holgorsen's notions, claiming that although he is always inward-looking after a loss, he never loses perspective of the bigger picture.

``Dana knows that I'm my own biggest critic and I'm always going to be hard on myself,'' Smith said. ``I think he understands that it's just my competitive nature and I'm never going to be hard on myself to the point where I would lose confidence.

``No one man can win or lose a game. But as the quarterback, I control a lot of what's going on out on the field, which is why I'm so hard on myself - because I want to win them all.''

And if and the Mountaineers can win out, despite the setbacks the final chapter of Smith's record-setting career would end on a high note.

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Warriors will visit D.C. kids instead of White House when they play Wizards

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USA Today Sports Images

Warriors will visit D.C. kids instead of White House when they play Wizards

Instead of visiting the White House when they come to Washington this week to play the Wizards, the defending-champion Golden State Warriors plan to hold an event with D.C.-area kids.

Their invitation was rescinded by president Donald Trump following a back-and-forth between the two sides last year. After the Warriors won the title, they openly questioned whether they should follow the tradition given many of the players and coaches disagree with his policies. Trump took the opportunity away before they came to a final decision.

PODCAST: WIZARDS MAKE A FREE AGENT SIGNING

The Warriors' event will be closed off to the media and held at an undisclosed location. It is set for Tuesday, the day before they play the Wizards at Capital One Arena. The Warriors had the option of holding a ceremony with other politicians in the Democratic party, but decided that would send the wrong message. 

"It's their championship. They got disinvited to the White House, so it's up to them what they wanted to do. So they made their plans," coach Steve Kerr said. "I want the players to have a good day and to do something positive and to enjoy what they're doing."

The Warriors are the first NBA team to make this choice since Trump was elected president. Last season, the Cleveland Cavaliers held their celebration with president Barack Obama in November. They did so just days after Trump was elected and LeBron James questioned at the time whether he would visit the White House with Trump in office.

RELATED: DURANT MAKES HUGE DONATION TO PG COUNTY SCHOOLS

Sports teams visiting the White House goes back to the mid-1800s. The first World Series title team to visit was the 1924 Washington Senators. By the 1960s, NBA teams were going and by the 1980s NFL and NHL teams made it a tradition.

Entire teams snubbing the White House is unusual, but many players have turned down the opportunity. In the NBA, some famous cases include Larry Bird in 1984 and Michael Jordan in 1991, according to Rolling Stone.

Perhaps the Warriors start a trend, or maybe it will be a one-off thing. Regardless, the alternative they chose is a respectable one. 

RELATED: LATEST NBA POWER RANKINGS

 

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Game 62: Capitals vs. Sabres Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

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USA TODAY Sports

Game 62: Capitals vs. Sabres Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

What: Washington Capitals vs. Buffalo Sabres

Where: Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.

When: 7:00 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Sabres will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Sabres game on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page.

WHEN IS THE CAPITALS-SABRES GAME?

The Capitals (34-20-7) take on the Sabres (18-32-11) Saturday, February 24 at 7:00 p.m. ET in Capital One Arena.

WHAT CHANNEL IS THE CAPITALS-SABRES GAME ON?

The Capitals-Sabres game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. Coverage kicks off with Capitals FaceOff at 6:00 p.m. followed by Caps GameTime at 6:30 p.m. Stay with NBC Sports Washington for Caps Extra following the game, Caps Overtime at 10:00 p.m. and Caps in 30 at 11:00 p.m. for all your postgame coverage. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

6:00 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
6:30 p.m. — Caps GameTime
7:00 p.m. — Capitals vs. Sabres
9:30 p.m. — Caps Extra
10:00 p.m. — Caps Overtime
11:00 p.m. — Caps in 30

WHAT ARE THE PROJECTED LINES FOR THE CAPITALS-SABRES GAME?

Here are the projected lines for the Caps-Sabres game:

Forwards
Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - Tom Wilson
Jakub Vrana - Evgeny Kuznetsov - T.J. Oshie
Brett Connolly - Lars Eller - Andre Burakovsky
Chandler Stephenson - Jay Beagle - Devante Smith-Pelly

Defensemen
Dmitry Orlov - Matt Niskanen
Christian Djoos - John Carlson
Michal Kempny - Brooks Orpik

Braden Holtby starts with Philipp Grubauer as backup

Scratches: Alex Chiasson, Madison Bowey, Jakub Jerabek

WHERE CAN I STREAM THE CAPITALS-SABRES GAME?

The Capitals-Panthers game, as well as Caps GameTime and Caps Extra, is available to stream live here through NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and is available to authenticated NBC Sports Washington subscribers on desktops, tablets, mobile devices and connected TVs anywhere in the United States.

CAPITALS-SABRES OPEN THREAD

Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans. 

For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals correspondent JJ Regan and the NBC Sports Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and NBC Sports Washington's Facebook page.