No. 14 Clemson looks to get back to form at Wake


No. 14 Clemson looks to get back to form at Wake

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) Maybe this is what Clemson's high-flying offense needs to get clicking again: a matchup with the Atlantic Coast Conference team it beats most often.

The 14th-ranked Tigers (6-1, 3-1) are coming off a game in which they had season lows in every meaningful offensive stat but the final score. They're headed to Wake Forest on Thursday night looking to get back to their norms of big yards and big points.

The league's best passing offense was held to 160 yards through the air and also finished with 135 yards rushing and 295 total yards in a 38-17 win over Virginia Tech. Those numbers would be considered mediocre at best for most teams, and a definite cause for concern for a Tigers team that averages 493 total yards behind big-play threats Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins.

``If you don't play well and are still able to win a ballgame, that's a good day,'' Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris said. ``But for us to achieve our goals we have set here, we have to play better than that. ... I think our (offensive) guys might have been signing too many autographs. We had to put the Sharpies up this week.''

They hope to get well against Wake Forest (4-3, 2-3). Clemson has beaten the Demon Deacons 59 times - only South Carolina (65) has more losses to the Tigers - and has won three straight and five of six in the series.

Wake Forest doesn't expect Clemson's offensive struggles to continue, not with so many playmakers throughout the depth chart. Boyd threw for 343 yards and two touchdowns and Andre Ellington rushed for 98 yards and two scores against his team last year, but the Tigers needed a last-second field goal to avoid overtime and claim a 31-28 win.

``If you miss an assignment, they will make you pay for it and they probably will score because they've done that all year,'' linebacker Riley Haynes said. ``People get out of their gaps, Andre Ellington's going to take it to the house. If you miss a coverage, Sammy Watkins or DeAndre Hopkins is going to find it and they're going to score and they're going to make you pay. ... They do a couple things that mess with you mentally a little bit, so it's huge to be mentally sound and prevent the big plays as much as you can to have a chance at slowing them down.''

At least the Demon Deacons will have a big-play threat of his own in their lineup: receiver Michael Campanaro is expected to play after missing two games with a broken right hand. Campanaro, who had an ACC-best 38 catches when he was hurt Sept. 29 against Duke, returned a punt 50 yards for a touchdown last year against the Tigers.

His return should help a Wake Forest offense that is coming off a subpar performance of its own. In a 16-10 win at Virginia, the Demon Deacons gained just 213 total yards - their lowest total in an ACC victory since 1966. And it certainly can't hurt quarterback Tanner Price, a normally reliable passer who completed just 35 percent of his attempts in two full games without Campanaro.

``We've got a skeleton crew around him, and those guys aren't in a great position because they know if they play better, we've got a shot,'' coach Jim Grobe said. ``So there's a lot of pressure on all these guys with the injuries that we've had to move the football and score points. It's not easy on anybody - coaches or players - but that's where we are. You've just got to move forward and get after it. Find a way.''

The Demon Deacons have only beaten Clemson once since 2005 - but that game had some powerful aftereffects.

Wake Forest's 12-7 win at home on a Thursday night in 2008 wound up being the last game for Tommy Bowden as the Tigers' coach. He stepped down a few days later while Dabo Swinney was elevated from coaching receivers to interim head coach. He got the job permanently after the season.

Four years later and preparing for another weeknight in Winston-Salem, Swinney says the historical significance hasn't been lost on him.

``Sometimes I sit and reflect and am blown away how quickly life can change,'' Swinney said. ``Looking back four years ago, we've come a long ways, and hopefully we can continue to get better.''

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Wizards Tipoff podcast: Should Bradley Beal be an All-NBA selection?


Wizards Tipoff podcast: Should Bradley Beal be an All-NBA selection?

On the latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast presented by Greenberg and Bederman, host Chase Hughes was joined by guest co-host Travis Thomas to break down Bradley Beal's All-NBA chances and John Wall's injury rehab.

They also discussed the crazy Eastern Conference playoff race, Trae Young's draft stock and essentials for a good snow day.

You can listen to the episode right here:

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Caps prospect watch: Signing season?


Caps prospect watch: Signing season?

The 2018 NCAA Hockey Tournament bracket has been announced and only one Capitals prospect, Brian Pinho, is still in the running.

Providence College was selected as the No. 2 seed in the East Regional and will play No. 3 Clarkson in the first round on Friday, March 23 on ESPNU. The winner will play the winner of Notre Dame-Michigan Tech on Saturday with a chance to advance to the Frozen Four.

The college season is over for the rest of the Capitals' college prospects which begs the question, will any of them sign an entry-level deal with Washington?

In the spring when seasons end for colleges, junior leagues and European leagues, we see a flurry of signings across the NHL as teams sign their prospects and young free agents.

Among the Caps' college prospects, the most likely candidate to sign would be Shane Gersich. Gersich just wrapped up this third season at the University of North Dakota, finishing second on the team in goals (13) and tied for third in points (29). The Capitals will certainly make a push to sign him considering his talent and because if he returns to college for a fourth year, he stands to become a free agent on Aug. 15, 2019.

Brad Elliott Schlossman of the Grand Forks Herald reported Wednesday that North Dakota was still awaiting Gersich's decision on whether he planned to return to college.

Quinnipiac defenseman Chase Priskie is in a similar situation, but it he has decided to head back to school for another season.

“That wasn’t a season I’d want to leave on,” Priskie told the New Haven Register. “When I came here as a freshman I saw our senior class, Garteig, St. Denis, Soren Jonzzon, and they left such a legacy that guys still talk about them. Same for Sam Anas and Devon Toews. They were all such great players and some of the best people for our program. When I leave, I want to be talked about like they are.”


Other prospect notes:

  • For Pinho, now a senior at Providence, this marks an opportunity for him to finish his college career the same way he began, with a national championship. “I don’t think I realized at the time how hard it is just to get back to the tournament,” Pinho told the New Haven Register. “So that’s something we older guys have been telling the younger guys. You never know when you’re going to be back and you have to make the most of it when you’re there.” (You can read the full feature on Pinho here)
  • The end of the season may suddenly be near for goalie prospect Ilya Samsonov. Metallurg Magnitogorsk finds itself down 3-1 in its series with Ak Bars in the KHL playoffs meaning their season could be over as early as Friday. Of course, the big news to watch after that is whether or not Samsonov would come to North America. If he does, he would most likely go to Hershey to play for the Bears. With only 10 games remaining on Hershey's schedule, however, the sooner Samsonov's team is ousted from the playoffs, the better. At least from a Washington perspective.
  • All three of Washington's WHL prospects have reached the WHL playoffs. Moose Jaw (Dmitriy Zaitsev) finished with the best record in the league and will play Prince Albert in the first round. Swift Current (Beck Malenstyn) finished second in the East Division behind Moose Jaw and will play Regina. Everett (Garrett Pilon) won the U.S. Division and earned the top seed in the Western Conference. They will play Seattle in the first round.
  • Dmitriy Zaitsev remains out after taking an illegal hit last week. He did not play in either of Moose Jaw's final regular season games, but was a full participant in practice on Wednesday.
  • Adam Carlson has found his groove in Kansas City. Playing for the Mavericks of the ECHL, he won each of his two starts this past week allowing only one goal on 43 shots. He was named the 2nd star of the game for both games.
  • Madison Bowey recorded an assist on Friday and two more for Hershey on Saturday for three over the weekend in his first week back with the Bears. Bowey has spent the majority of the season with the Caps, but the additions of Michal Kempny and Jakub Jerabek at the trade deadline meant there were just too many bodies up in Washington and not enough playing time to go around. As Bowey is waiver exempt, he became the odd-man out and was sent to the AHL. It would not be surprising to see him recalled by Washington when the NHL playoffs begin.
  • Defenseman Jonas Siegenthaler brought his goal total up to five for the season with two goals against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on Monday. The Bears really wanted to emphasize his offensive game this season to see if Siegenthaler could be developed into a two-way player. His strength is definitely is on the defensive end of the ice, but he will be a more versatile player if he can also be a threat offensively as well. You can see the highlights of Siegenthaler's two-goal game here:

  • Forward Hampus Gustafsson was recalled to Hershey last week and did not wait long to make an impact. He scored his first career AHL goal on Friday. He also added an assist making that game his first career multi-point game as well.
  • Tyler Lewington was suspended two games by the AHL for a punch he delivered to Bridgeport's Scott Eansor in Friday's game.

Who are the Caps' top 10 prospects? Find out here in this week's updated rankings