Capitals

No. 19 La. Tech hosts Utah St. in key WAC tilt

No. 19 La. Tech hosts Utah St. in key WAC tilt

RUSTON, La. (AP) Louisiana Tech has relied on its high-scoring offense to reach the brink of a second straight Western Athletic Conference crown.

Coach Sonny Dykes' big concern this week is whether that formula will work for the No. 19 Bulldogs (9-1, 4-0 WAC) again Saturday when defensive-minded Utah State (8-2, 4-0) visits with first place in the league on the line.

``You are living on borrowed time because a lot of times if you come up against a really good defense it is going to be difficult, and it will be for us on Saturday,'' Dykes said. ``We know that. Our players know that, so we are going to have to play better team football on Saturday than we played over the last couple of weeks.''

No one questions that Louisiana Tech has one of the best offenses in the nation. The Bulldogs have scored 50 points or more in eight of their 10 games. Colby Cameron has thrown for 3,283 yards, 27 touchdowns and zero interceptions, setting an NCAA record with a streak of 419 pass attempts without being picked off.

Freshman running back Kenneth Dixon has 1,052 yards on the ground and leads the nation with 24 touchdowns rushing.

And it's not like Tech has been doing all this against weak competition.

The Bulldogs have won two road games against teams from BCS automatic-qualifying conferences, defeating Illinois of the Big Ten 52-24 and Virginia of the ACC 44-38. Tech's only loss this season came against No. 9 Texas A&M - the only team to beat previous No. 1 Alabama - and the Bulldogs went touchdown for touchdown with A&M in that 59-57 thriller in Shreveport last month.

To beat the Bulldogs, Utah State coach Gary Andersen said, ``You better score and move the ball. ... It's arena football.''

Utah State's only losses came against BYU and Wisconsin, and both were close.

The Aggies' defense is rated 12th nationally, allowing only 13.5 points per game.

``The way our defense plays allows us to take more chances on the offensive side of the ball,'' Utah State running back Kerwynn Williams said. ``It's a good thing for us, knowing that our defense has our back if something were to go wrong. They make big plays and I think they'll continue that this game.''

Unlike Tech, Utah State has often looked strong on both sides of the ball, resulting in some rather lopsided victories. The Aggies have won their past four games by an average margin of nearly 30 points.

``You go and watch the film and you look up midway through the second quarter and they are usually ahead 28-0 or 24-0 or 31-0,'' Dykes said of the Aggies. ``It seems like they have gotten off to a great start with people and have really been able to hold them off.''

Sophomore Chuckie Keeton has completed more than 68 percent of his passes this season for 2,671 yards and 23 touchdowns against seven interceptions. His ability to distribute the ball to a variety of players makes him less predictable; five different receivers have caught at least 23 passes. He has also shown an ability to scramble for first downs and appears to be less prone to the types of costly mistakes that sometimes plagued him as a freshman.

``He was a little reckless at times last year with the ball,'' Dykes said. ``He does not do that this year.''

Last year, Tech pulled out a 24-17 victory at Utah State, and it was a defensive play - an interception return for a score - that made the difference for the Bulldogs. The Aggies have been looking forward to the rematch ever since.

``We always had them kind of marked on our schedule coming from the offseason just because we knew it was one of the games we should have won last year,'' Keeton said. ``To have it be on this magnitude where a WAC championship is kind of on the line is a great feeling.''

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Game 60: Capitals vs. Lightning Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

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Game 60: Capitals vs. Lightning Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

What: Washington Capitals vs. Tampa Bay Lightning

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

When: 7:00 p.m. ET

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

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

You can also stream the game online with no cable TV subscription on fuboTV (try for free!).

WHEN IS THE CAPITALS-LIGHTNING GAME?

The Capitals (34-18-7) take on the Lightning (39-17-3) Tuesday, February 20 at 7:00 p.m. ET in Washington.

WHAT CHANNEL IS THE CAPITALS-LIGHTNING GAME ON?

The Capitals-Lightning 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. Lightning
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-LIGHTNING GAME?

Here are the projected lines for the Caps-Lightning 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
Christian Djoos - John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov - Matt Niskanen
Brooks Orpik - Madison Bowey

Braden Holtby starts with Philipp Grubauer as backup

Scratches: Alex Chiasson, Taylor Chorney

WHERE CAN I STREAM THE CAPITALS-LIGHTNING GAME?

The Capitals-Lightning 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.

The game is also available to stream, along with all the pregame and postgame shows, on fuboTV (try for free).

CAPITALS-LIGHTNING 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.

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Need to Know: Redskins' Junior Galette will be a valued free agent

Need to Know: Redskins' Junior Galette will be a valued free agent

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, February 20, 22 days before NFL free agency starts.

I’m out this week so I’ll be re-posting some of the best and most popular articles of the past few months. Some may have slightly dated information but the major points in the posts still stand. Thanks for reading, as always.

Galette to be a valued free agent

Originally published 12/13/17

Like the Redskins, the Broncos are no longer relevant in 2017. Both teams’ fan bases have started to look towards the coming offseason.

To give their readers what they want, the Denver Post published an article by Mike Renner of Pro Football Focus that discussed some of the top pending free agents who have done the most to increase their values in the past year. There were two Redskins named, one you would expect to see on such a list and one that might surprise some people.

Kirk Cousins is at the top of the list. “The Washington signal-caller is grading as a top-10 quarterback (82.8), and soon he’ll have the long-term contract of one,” Renner wrote. “Only this time its value will be exponentially higher than any one he would have signed back when he first became a free agent in 2016.”

But the surprising name is that of Junior Galette. After missing the last two seasons with two torn Achilles tendons, he played this year on a one-year, $800,000 deal. And while he hasn’t been on fire in the sack department with just two on the year, he has been getting pressure on the passer.

“He’s accumulated the 27th-highest pass-rushing grade of any edge defender this season, but in only 264 snaps,” wrote Renner. “At 29 years of age, it’s doubtful he ever gets back to the level of the contract that he once had on the table with New Orleans. With how he’s played this season though, some pass-rush-needy team will pay handsomely for his services.”

One team that could be considered to be pass rush needy is the Redskins. Preston Smith is the starter and supposedly one of the Redskins’ top pass rushers. But in 100 fewer pass rush snaps this year, Galette has only three fewer quarterback hits than Smith and six more hurries.

And after missing those two seasons, Galette has remained healthy. Although he was limited with a hamstring during much of the preseason, he has not missed a practice or appeared on an injury report this year.

But would the Redskins be willing to pay him “handsomely”? Perhaps a good comp would be Connor Barwin, who moved from the Eagles to the Rams this past offseason at the age of 31. He had five sacks in Philly in 2016. That got him a one-year deal worth $3.5 million.

Barwin likely will have more sacks on his ledger going into free agency so let’s say Galette could command around $3 million. Perhaps he could offer Washington a bit of a hometown discount and agree to something in the $2.75 million range. If that is the case, the Redskins would be smart to keep him around for another year.

Plenty of things could alter the equation. If Galette gets hot in the last three games and posts a few more sacks his price could rise. With Smith and Ryan Kerrigan both back next year, perhaps Galette will want to go somewhere that he might get more playing time.

The details need to be sorted out but don’t be surprised if Galette gets a lot of attention in free agency, as much as teams need pass rush, and if the Redskins have to make a very tough decision about how much he is worth.

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.

Timeline  

Days until:

—NFL Combine (3/1) 9
—NFL Draft (4/26) 65
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 201