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This man will replace Andrew Luck at Stanford

This man will replace Andrew Luck at Stanford

From Comcast SportsNet
STANFORD, Calif. (AP) -- There will be no hiding from Andrew Luck's legacy this season. Every time Josh Nunes walks into the Stanford football offices he will see the trophies Luck helped win. When he runs through the Stanford Stadium tunnel for the first time as the starting quarterback, No. 12 jerseys will be littered throughout the crowd. And if he reads the record books, there's one name dominating the top. "It's the biggest shoes I think you could have to follow," Nunes said. Cardinal coach David Shaw announced Tuesday that the junior quarterback beat out sophomore Brett Nottingham, ending a lengthy and close competition to replace Luck, the NFL's No. 1 overall pick and two-time Heisman Trophy runner-up. Shaw informed both in his office before the morning practice. "Over time, Josh has been the most consistent," Shaw said. "Make no mistake. This is not about wild plays, it's not about doing something outside the framework of the offense. This is about consistency. This is about executing the plays that were called. It's not about who hasn't played well. All of our quarterbacks have competed. All of our quarterbacks have approached this with a workmanlike attitude. But Josh has been the most consistent over this time." Experience is still a major concern. No. 21 Stanford will open the regular season against San Jose State on Aug. 31 with a quarterback who has thrown all of two passes and completed only one -- for all of 7 yards -- in his college career. Both also came two years ago. Nunes (pronounced Noon-es) also will have little time to transition. After playing Duke the following week, a monumental matchup looms against top-ranked Southern California at Stanford Stadium on Sept. 15. "The great thing is the path has been laid for how to be a successful quarterback here at Stanford," Nunes said, referring to Luck's career. "So, really, it's just following that pattern and emulating the kind of player that he was and the kind of person that he was here. I also got to realize I'm not Andrew Luck, and by no means am I trying to be exactly him. I'm trying to come out here and run this high-powered offense that we got and get it to the playmakers that we got." Luck left Stanford as the school's leader in touchdown passes (82), completion percentage (.670), passing efficiency (162.8) and total offense (10,411) -- among other marks -- despite playing only three seasons. A year after rolling past Virginia Tech 40-12 in the Orange Bowl, Luck didn't quite have the finish he had hoped. Stanford lost 41-38 in overtime to Oklahoma State in the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 2. Replacing Luck is a task even Shaw had to address the first day of spring practice. "I told them all flat out: Don't try to be Andrew Luck because you can't. It's impossible," Shaw said. "I don't know there's a guy in the nation right now, young or old, that's where Andrew was when he left here. So for us it's about managing the game." While Luck is replacing four-time NFL MVP Peyton Manning with the Indianapolis Colts, Nunes is facing a task equally daunting in the college ranks. Nunes missed most of last year with a right turf toe injury and never saw game action. The native of Upland in Southern California played in four games in 2010. He worked with the first-team offense in Stanford's spring game and started last Sunday's scrimmage, and coaches believe his knowledge of the playbook and game management top Nottingham's strong arm. Nottingham replaced Luck in six games last year, finishing 5 of 8 passing for 78 yards. The quarterback, who played at Monte Vista High School in San Francisco's East Bay, was not made available by Stanford to speak to reporters. A message left at his parents' house seeking comment also was not returned. Shaw wouldn't commit to Nottingham being the backup, insisting redshirt freshman Kevin Hogan will continue to challenge for the spot. But he said the months-long competition made each quarterback and the team better. "It's a very good thing," Shaw said. "If I had to make this decision the first week that would have meant that we didn't have competition. We had a serious competition." Former Stanford tight end Coby Fleener and wide receiver Griff Whalen, both rookies along with Luck in Indianapolis, said they had just one preference for the next starter. "Whoever wins us games," said Fleener, drafted 34th overall. "They're not throwing me balls, so it's whoever wins games. I'm a Stanford fan forever." Whalen also recognizes the parallels for Luck and Nunes as they try to replace such standouts at quarterback. "It's going to be tough because, whoever it is, is going to be in a similar situation to what Andrew has here," Whalen said before the official announcement. "The important thing is to go one day at a time and focus on the things you can control." While there is no bigger hole to fill than replacing Luck, Stanford has built depth over the last two seasons -- both of which ended at BCS bowls -- and Shaw refuses to call this a rebuilding year. Stanford has a talented mix of tight ends and running backs, including back-to-back 1,000-yard rusher Stepfan Taylor, one of the Pac-12's top defenses and the league's Coach of the Year. The program also has a proven record recently of overcoming key losses, including 2009 Heisman Trophy runner-up Toby Gerhart and coach Jim Harbaugh before last season. If Nunes can be a steady hand at quarterback, perhaps there's no reason Stanford should slip. "Being behind Andrew Luck was pretty much the biggest blessing I think you could ever ask for," Nunes said. "I learned a lot from him and I feel like I'm ready to lead this team."

John Carlson gets the better of John Klingberg in duel of top defensemen


John Carlson gets the better of John Klingberg in duel of top defensemen

One week ago, the hockey world was captivated by the matchup of Alex Ovechkin and Patrik Laine, two players battling for the Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy as the NHL's leading scorer. Tuesday's matchup between the Washington Capitals and Dallas Stars once again pitted two competitors locked in a point battle together in John Carlson and John Klingberg.

Carlson and Klingberg entered Tuesday's games with 59 points each, tied for the league lead in points among defensemen. In a 4-3 win for Washington, both defensemen delivered phenomenal performances as each recorded two points, two assists for Klingberg and a goal and an assist for Carlson.

Tuesday's game was the latest example this season of Carlson rising to the occasion. He has been at his best when he has been needed the most such as when he was averaging 27:46 of ice time a night while Matt Niskanen was out injured.


Carlson's ability to deliver has not gone unnoticed by his teammates.

"John's having just a whale of a year, obviously," Niskanen said. "Monster year. Production, been carrying the load all year. He's been just a stalwart back there for us. He leads the way."

"The numbers don't lie, he's been having an unreal season," T.J. Oshie said. "Definitely on the points side of things, but maybe some parts that don't get talked about, the defensive side of things. He rarely loses a battle. It's very encouraging, it gets the bench going when he plays like that."

After the game, Carlson tried to downplay the notion that he elevated his game in response to playing against Klingberg.

"No," Carlson said when asked if he was motivated by the points race. "I think the guys do a good job of pumping that up in the locker room. I just want to go out there and win. I think we played a good game tonight so that's most important."

But while his words were subdued, his play was anything but.

Despite both players getting two points, Carlson got the better of his counterpart by scoring the game-winning goal in the third period, a one-timer slap shot to beat goalie Kari Lehtnonen, to lead Washington to the win.


Carlson may say he was not motivated by Klingberg, but his play certainly seemed to suggest otherwise.

"I think they both know, they know the stats," Barry Trotz said. "They know who they're lined up  [against]. They're proud athletes. You're in a business where there's a lot of alpha males. That's what it is."

Of course, Carlson may not need a matchup with Klingberg to motivate him.

In the final year of his contract, Carlson has picked a good time to set new career highs in goals, assist and points. With a cap hit of just under $4 million, the 28-year-old blueliner will be due a significant raise in the offseason. That price tag continues to climb with every good performance as Carlson continues to cement himself among the league's top defensemen.

"Obviously he's very motivated," Trotz said. "He's in the last year of his contract. He'll be motivated. He's putting out points. He's gotten better and better. He's more poised every year. When he's intense and detailed in his game, he's a top defenseman in the league and he shows it."

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Need to Know: Redskins player quick hitters—Offensive starters

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Need to Know: Redskins player quick hitters—Offensive starters

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, March 21, 36 days before the NFL draft.  

Redskins starters quick hitters—offense

The last couple of days here I looked at how the depth charts are shaping up with a little bit of commentary (offense, defense). Today and tomorrow I’ll take a closer look at the starters with some quick hitters about each one, starting today with the offense.

QB Alex Smith—The deal is done, and the Redskins have their man for five years at $22.2 million per year or, if they prefer, three years at $23.7 million per. It seems like most fans are behind him but there will have to be a few more wins than losses this fall for that to become permanent.

RB Samaje Perine—He got better as the year went on, averaging nearly a half yard per carry more in the last seven games compared to the first nine. But the 3.4 average per carry certainly did not stop both Doug Williams and Jay Gruden from talking about drafting a running back early.

TE Jordan Reed—According to reports, he is rehabbing well from the hamstring and toe injuries that severely limited him last year. Still, expect him to be kept in bubble wrap until training camp and even then, his action may be limited.

WR Josh Doctson—Did Kirk Cousins look away from Doctson too often, lacking the confidence in him to let him go get the 50-50 balls? Will Smith have more confidence in Doctson? The answers to those questions may determine if the third-year receiver breaks out in 2018 or he continues to tease with flashes of ability.

WR Paul Richardson—He’s capable of the acrobatic catch, which should be fun to watch. Richardson was good with Russell Wilson on the off-schedule plays, maybe he can do the same with Smith.

WR Jamison Crowder—I guess it’s fair to say he had an off year in 2017 but his receiving yardage only dropped by 60 yards from 2016. It will be interesting to see if they keep him in as the punt returner after he averaged 6.3 yards per return (23rd of 25 qualifiers) last year.

LT Trent Williams—The six-time Pro Bowler is still in the relatively early stages of recovering from surgery to the knee that kept him from practicing from about Week 6 on. Don’t look for him until training camp and even then, the early workload is likely to be light.

LG Arie Kouandjio—This is the one offensive position that remains up in the air. Kouandjio has shown some grit as a spot starter but I don’t think the organization views him as a 16-game starter.

C Chase Roullier—Shortly after Roullier got the starting job when Spencer Long went out injured, Jay Gruden said that Roullier would be the Redskins’ center “for a long time”. There is no reason to doubt that at this point in time.

RG Brandon Scherff—His concern no longer is trying to live up to having been the fifth pick of the draft. Scherff has to play well enough to justify his 2019 option-year salary, which will be in the vicinity of $13 million.

RT Morgan Moses—He had surgery to repair his ankles, which were an issue most of last season. Still, he didn’t miss a start. Like Williams, even if he’s ready for training camp, don’t expect to see a whole lot of him.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

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Days until:

—Offseason workouts begin (4/16) 27
—Training camp starts (approx. 7/26) 129
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 173

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