Redskins

No. 5 West Virginia to test Texas Tech's defense

No. 5 West Virginia to test Texas Tech's defense

LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) Dana Holgorsen won't be nostalgic Saturday when he brings his No. 5 Mountaineers to Texas Tech, where he and Mike Leach drove opponents batty with their dizzying pass-heavy offense.

``All those feelings and emotions have gone away a long time ago,'' the Mountaineers second-year coach said of his eight years in Lubbock. ``I'm not going to think twice about it.''

Holgorsen's thoughts will be on how to keep his Mountaineers unbeaten as they try to stay in the hunt for the Big 12 title in their first year in the conference. Much of that will depend on the performance of quarterback Geno Smith, who comes into the game with 24 touchdowns, 1,996 yards and no interceptions. He's completed 81 percent of his 204 pass attempts this season.

West Virginia (5-0, 2-0 Big 12) got out of Austin last week with a 48-45 victory over Texas, with Smith throwing for 268 yards and four touchdowns. The Red Raiders (4-1, 1-1) are hoping to rebound after falling 41-20 to Oklahoma in a game that saw quarterback Seth Doege throw three interceptions.

Smith and one of his favorite receivers, Tavon Austin, make West Virginia's offense look a little like backyard football, said D.J. Johnson, a safety on Texas Tech's top-ranked pass defense.

``They really understand each other as far as receiver-quarterback,'' the senior said. ``So what we're really going to have to do is make them eliminate his key receivers and make him take more time to really figure out what he's going to have to do. So take away those first reads, those initial reads, and give our D-line and linebackers time to get there and make plays.''

Smith holds the Red Raiders' defense in high regard and knows the crowd will be as boisterous or more than last weekend's in Austin.

``They really make things complex with the way they react to the ball,'' the 6-foot-3 senior said of Texas Tech's defense. ``They do a great job of reading the quarterback's eyes and reacting to the ball.''

Red Raiders defenders can't focus solely on Smith. Mountaineers running back Andrew Buie gained 207 yards on 31 carries and added 66 passing yards against Texas.

Holgorsen said Buie is handling his duties well.

``The concern is the wear and tear,'' Holgorsen said. ``He carried it 31 times, and he got hit 31 times. He blocks, which is hard, and he runs routes, which is taxing. The wear and tear is something to be concerned with, which is why we need to get Dustin (Garrison) healthy and Shawne (Alston) healthy.

Alston injured his right thigh earlier this season and Garrison has eight carries for 42 yards this year after having knee surgery during the offseason.

Red Raiders coach Tommy Tuberville knows the defense will have its hands full with Buie.

``They've got a very good running back that is kind of a dual-threat that you don't normally see on a team that has that much speed at wide receiver,'' he said. ``They're hitting on all cylinders.''

Texas Tech's offense hasn't clicked the past two weeks like it had against lesser opponents earlier this season. Accuracy was lacking from Doege, who has five interceptions the past two weeks. That's half the number he had all last season.

Doege is the first to say he's got to step it up Saturday to keep pace with the Mountaineers, who are averaging 52 points a game.

``We need to be a threat every single time we step out on to the field, regardless of the score, regardless the time of the game,'' he said. ``It's not realistic that you're going to score every time you have it, but that's the mindset we have.''

Holgorsen said he's trying to downplay Smith's interception streak.

``We talk about completions and putting the ball where you need to put the ball,'' Holgorsen said. "When the ball is in the air, it's up to the receiver to attack it and makes sure it is ours.''

Tuberville, who earlier this year said West Virginia would be the front-runner to win the Big 12, wants his team on Saturday to return to the attitude it had at the beginning of the season.

``We've got to have fun,'' he said. ``Because once you start losing the fun attitude, it gets a lot more difficult.''

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In talking 2018 NFL draft, Doug Williams actually explained Redskins' free agency

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USA TODAY Sports

In talking 2018 NFL draft, Doug Williams actually explained Redskins' free agency

The Redskins spent modestly in 2018 free agency, and plenty of fans thought the team should have shelled out much bigger bucks. Talking with sources around the Ashburn facility, a prevaling notion became clear that the Washington brass believed they had a strong team in 2017, but they lost their chance to compete because of injuries. 

Well, the secret is out. Doug Williams said as much on Tuesday. 

"Coming out of Richmond last year, I liked this football team. I think we’ve got a tough football team, a smart football team. Some things you can’t control," Williams said Tuesday in a pre-draft media session. "We were very competitive up to a certain point, and when you have the injuries that we have, at a certain point, that competitive edge, you lose it because your best players are not playing."

Williams' words were true, and telling. 

First the true part:

  • In Washington's first five games of 2017, the team went 3-2. The Redskins only lost to eventual the Super Bowl champs Philadelphia and AFC West champs Kansas City. Washington only gave up more than 100 yards rushing once in those first five games, before rookie Jonathan Allen got hurt and the defense began to look much different. After Week 5, the Redskins only held one team under 100 yards rushing and finished the year dead last in rush defense.

Now the telling part:

  • The Redskins signed free agent WR Paul Richardson, and kept free agent LB Zach Brown. Beyond that, the team added inexpensive veterans in OLB Pernell McPhee and CB Orlando Scandrick. No splash moves, and recurring speculation that Washington was not offering top dollar to free agents. Bruce Allen acknowledged as much during NFL League Meetings when he explained that his team identified exactly how much they would offer free agents, their own and otherwise, and wouldn't go beyond that dollar figure. 

That means the focus of the offseason, at this point, is about this weekend's NFL Draft.

That also means the focus of the offseason, at this point, is not about Johnathan Hankins or any other free agent. 

"We’re going to deal with the draft now, and the second wave of free agents, if it’s somebody out there we feel like can help the Redskins,that’s what we’re going to do," Williams said. 

Throughout the offseason, Redskins fans wanted more action from their front office. It didn't happen, and Williams' basically explained why on Tuesday. The brass likes their team, and by default, expects better health and luck in 2018. 

When Williams talks about drafting the best player available, it's not just the typical NFL front office tripe. Right or wrong, the Redskins believe they have a team ready to compete in 2018, and any rookies that come in will only supplement that position.

"At the end of the day, I like this football team we’ve got. Like, last year when I walked out of camp, I thought we had a pretty good football team and I still feel the same way today," Williams said.

"At the end of the day, you get the best football player, and if that best football player is the guy that you want to plug and play, that’s all right. But if that’s the best football player that’s going to help your team overall, I think that’s the route you have to go."

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How the Caps won their first round series against the Columbus Blue Jackets

How the Caps won their first round series against the Columbus Blue Jackets

Things did not look good for the Capitals after two games.

Facing a 0-2 series hole after losing both games in Washington, it looked like it could be an early summer. The Caps were going to be the first team to ever lose a series in the playoffs to the Columbus Blue Jackets.

HOW DID THE CAPS WIN THEIR SERIES AGAINST COLUMBUS? FIND OUT HERE

But the Caps rallied.

Washington won the next four games and turned what looked like it would be another postseason disaster into a postseason triumph.

Only once in franchise history had the Caps rallied from a 0-2 deficit and only once had the Caps won four straight games to win a series. They managed both against the Blue Jackets.

Here's how the Caps were able to rally to a first-round victory over Columbus.