No. 18 Texas Tech more than ready for TCU now

No. 18 Texas Tech more than ready for TCU now

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) Texas Tech is more than ready to play TCU this time.

Conference foes again with TCU in its first Big 12 season, the 18th-ranked Red Raiders couldn't again delay a meeting with their former Southwest Conference rival.

Two years ago, Texas Tech moved up the date of its game with Texas for a television network broadcast and pushed back to another season its scheduled game against TCU. When a ninth Big 12 game was added last year, before the Horned Frogs were part of the league, TCU was the non-conference game dropped by the Red Raiders.

``It wasn't that their team didn't want to play us,'' Frogs coach Gary Patterson said this week. ``Their coach said because they were new and they were young that they would be better to schedule a different way, and that's how I took it. ... I didn't take it any sense (other) than he was trying to build his program and trying to get himself in a situation to get six wins.''

Now the Red Raiders (5-1, 2-1 Big 12) are downright defensive - on the field.

Texas Tech has the Big 12's top defense and is coming off a 49-14 victory over then-No. 5 West Virginia and big-play quarterback Geno Smith, a Heisman Trophy front-runner.

Saturday's game will be the first time since 1995 that TCU (5-1, 2-1) play as conference rivals in a series that dates back to 1926. They have played only twice since that last SWC season, both winning at home - Tech 70-35 in 2004 after overcoming a 21-0 deficit, and TCU 12-3 two years later.

After being one of the nation's worst defenses a year ago, the Red Raiders are fourth among FBS teams allowing only 243 total yards a game.

They are also trying to avoid the kind of letdown they had after last year's big upset at third-ranked Oklahoma. They followed that win with five consecutive losses and had their first losing season since 1992.

``I hope we learn from last year because we pretty much around the same part of the season did the same thing,'' Tuberville said. ``We did something nobody else thought we could do and we didn't win another game. ... We're a better team than we were last year, but we're also a target.''

Texas Tech quarterback Seth Doege said he and his teammates aren't caught up in whatever schedule changes were made in the past that pushed back any games against TCU.

``Maybe for like the administrators and people that put stuff together for that, but for us players, I think it's just the fact that they're another Texas school,'' Doege said. ``We have a lot of guys that are from Texas, that it's just one of those pride things that you want to be the best team in Texas.''

As for avoiding a repeat for what happened at the end of last season after beating Oklahoma, Doege remembers ``being on such a high and going to such a low'' and how that makes the Red Raiders realize this game is bigger than the last one.

TCU, a longtime defensive stalwart, leads the nation with 14 interceptions and 20 takeaways. The Frogs top the Big 12 allowing only 14.5 points and 96 yards rushing a game, categories in which Texas Tech is second.

The Horned Frogs are coming off a 49-21 win at Baylor, which had six turnovers but did have two touchdown passes longer than 70 yards.

TCU redshirt freshman quarterback Trevone Boykin completed 22 of 30 passes for 261 yards and four touchdowns, plus ran for a score in a turnover-free performance against Baylor. That came after his hurried starting debut replacing Casey Pachall a week earlier, when Boykin had three interceptions in a home loss to Iowa State.

But Boykin and the Frogs are going from facing the Big 12's worst defense to the best one.

``It's apples and oranges, there's a big difference between the schematics of Tech's offense and defense, and Baylor's offense and defense,'' Patterson said. ``Obviously, they put a lot of pressure on quarterbacks. We have our hands full, but it's not just on Trevone's shoulders.''

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Caps recall goalie Pheonix Copley after Braden Holtby 'tweaked something' in Dallas game


Caps recall goalie Pheonix Copley after Braden Holtby 'tweaked something' in Dallas game

You thought the Caps had a goalie rotation before, but now they have added a third netminder in the mix.

Pheonix Copley has been recalled from the Hershey Bears and will backup Philipp Grubauer for Washington's game in Detroit, the team announced Thursday.

The move comes in response to an injury concern for Braden Holtby.


Dallas Stars forward Remi Elie collided with Holtby midway through the third period on Tuesday as Holtby was extending to make a save. Holtby reacted awkwardly to the collision and could be seen skating and flexing his leg during the next stoppage.

With only nine games remaining in the regular season, Holtby's injury is a major concern. Given his recent struggles, the final few weeks of the season offered a chance for Holtby to get his game back to form. Just where his game will be when he is 100-percent healthy again is certainly a storyline to watch.


The good news for Washington, however, is that Grubauer is perhaps more ready this season to lead the team than he ever has been and confidence in him around the team should be high.

Since Thanksgiving, Grubauer has played in 22 games with a 17-11-4 record, a .939 save percentage, 1.85 GAA and two shutouts. No goalie who has played in 20 games or more has registered a better save percentage or GAA. He will certainly be looked upon to carry the load until Holtby returns. Whether this means he now has the inside track on starting in the playoffs, however, remains to be seen. That will depend largely on just when Holtby is ready to return and how Grubauer plays down the stretch.

Copley, 26, has gone 14-16-6 with two shutouts, a .898 save percentage and 2.86 GAA in 38 games in Hershey this season. He was originally signed as an undrafted free agent by Washington in 2014. He was traded to the St. Louis Blues in the package that netted the Caps T.J. Oshie, but was reacquired by Washington in Feb. 2017 in a trade deadline deal that included Kevin Shattenkirk.

At the time, it was believed Copley would be the team's backup for the 2017-18 season with Grubauer likely headed to Vegas in the expansion draft. Vegas, however, took Nate Schmidt instead which led to Copley spending the season in Hershey. The Caps now will be happy for the extra goalie depth for as long as Holtby's health remains a concern.

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Wizards to give fans Phil Chenier emoji signs and 1978 title shirts for special weekend

Washington Wizards

Wizards to give fans Phil Chenier emoji signs and 1978 title shirts for special weekend

This weekend was already going to be special for Washington Wizards fans. Now they will get souvenirs to remember it.

As part of their celebration of Phil Chenier's legendary career and the 40th anniversary of their 1978 NBA championship, the Wizards are handing out emoji signs on Friday night and commemorative t-shirts on Sunday. All fans in attendance will receive a giveaway.


The emoji sign has Chenier's face on it and will be handed out for the March 23 game against the Nuggets. Chenier will have his jersey retired at halftime during the game. 

The emoji sign is presented by NBC Sports Washington. You're welcome, Authentic Fans.


The shirts will be given out on Sunday when the Wizards host the New York Knicks. 

Here's the front...

And the back...

Let's take a closer look at that back...

As a reporter who has received many giveaways over the years at pro sports stadiums, these are uniquely awesome. Should be a great weekend for Wizards fans. See you at the arena.


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