No. 8 Stanford balancing studies with Rose Bowl

No. 8 Stanford balancing studies with Rose Bowl

STANFORD, Calif. (AP) Kevin Hogan hustled off the practice field Tuesday morning, changed out of his sweaty Stanford football jersey and headed across campus for his most important meeting: a Spanish test.

Forgive the Cardinal quarterback if he's short on words - or mixing up his languages.

For the third straight season on The Farm, the year's biggest exams fall on the same week. Not only are the eighth-ranked Cardinal (11-2) finishing finals in the classroom, the Pac-12 champions are beginning preparations for the Jan. 1 Rose Bowl against Big Ten winner Wisconsin (8-5).

``We're used to it by now,'' Hogan said. ``We've been through this already.''

After playing in the Orange Bowl and Fiesta Bowl the past two seasons, the experience still doesn't make the work any easier on or off the field at the rigorous academics university.

Players had last week off during a ``dead week'' of school, when students don't have class but hunker down for exams. Hogan, a redshirt freshman who has yet to declare his major, has another final Friday in Earth Systems before he can fully invest his time in football.

Same goes for most of his teammates.

Hogan still gathered his wide receivers and tight ends during the off week to run routes and stay in game shape. Others have been recovering from the bumps and bruises of the season since beating UCLA 27-24 in the league title game on Nov. 30.

``I think it's just balancing, finding the right combination of being prepared but not overthinking everything,'' linebacker Shayne Skov said. ``I think with any sort of important moment in your life you want to be thorough, you want to be ready, but you also don't want to overdo things and put any undue stress on yourself.''

Stanford coach David Shaw and his staff hit the recruiting trail from coast to coast while also beginning to game plan for the Badgers.

Wisconsin added a wrinkle to that preparation when Bret Bielema surprisingly left to become the new Arkansas coach. Badgers athletic director Barry Alvarez, the coach from 1990 through 2005, will return to the sidelines for the Rose Bowl before he hires a replacement.

Shaw said that changed ``nothing'' other than the hand he will shake following the game.

``We have to compartmentalize,'' Shaw said. ``They're a prideful group. As long as Montee Ball is back there at running back, I expect to see the same Wisconsin team.''


NOTES: Shaw huddled players after practice to recognize David Yankey for winning the Morris Trophy, given annually to the Pac-12's most outstanding offensive and defensive linemen. Arizona State DT Will Sutton won on the defensive side. Yankey shuffled from left tackle to his more natural guard position to anchor a young offensive line this season. The junior will return for his senior season and is expected to be a high pick in the 2014 NFL draft. ``I haven't seen everybody. But from what I've seen, he might be the best guard in the country right now,'' Shaw said. ``We hope he can just play guard next season.'' ... Zach Ertz said he was disappointed that he didn't win the Mackey Award, given to the nation's top tight end. He also said former Stanford TE Coby Fleener, who was snubbed last year before being drafted 34th overall by the Indianapolis Colts, reached out to him following the announcement. Notre Dame's Tyler Eifer took home the award. Eifer had 44 receptions for 624 yards and four touchdowns. Ertz had 66 catches for 837 yards and six touchdowns, including the winning score against then-No. 2 Southern California and the tying touchdown to force overtime in a win at top-ranked Oregon. ... Stanford will leave for Pasadena on Dec. 26.


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Stanley Cup Playoffs 2018 projection: Still too close to call in the Metropolitan Division


Stanley Cup Playoffs 2018 projection: Still too close to call in the Metropolitan Division

The Stanley Cup Playoffs are right around the corner and there is still a lot to be decided.

The Metropolitan Division is going to come right down to the wire as each team seemingly continues to win and put the pressure on the first place Capitals.

With just over two weeks remaining in the regular season, the playoff matchups for the first round of the NHL playoffs are still up in the air with only five points separating the top four teams in the Metro. Washington is in good position with a four-point cushion between themselves and the second place Pittsburgh Penguins. With both teams meeting on April 1, however, the Caps are still a long way off from clinching the division and earning home ice in the first round.


Metropolitan Division
1. Washington (93 points, 74 GP, 40 ROW)
W1. Philadelphia (88 points, 75 GP, 36 ROW)

2. Pittsburgh (89 points, 74 GP, 40 ROW)
3. Columbus (89 points, 75 GP, 36 ROW)

Atlantic Division
1. Tampa Bay (106 points, 74 GP, 45 ROW)
W2. New Jersey (82 points, 73 GP, 32 ROW)

2. Boston (100 points, 72 GP, 42 ROW)
3. Toronto (95 points, 74 GP, 37 ROW)

Still in the hunt:
Florida (81points, 72 GP, 34 ROW)


Washington has won only one out of four games against the Philadelphia Flyers this season. That's not an ideal first-round matchup for Washington, but there is still time for the Flyers to climb and overtake Columbus or Pittsburgh in the standings..

What seems unlikely to happen is for New Jersey or Florida to pass Philadelphia. While things remain close near the top of the standings, there seems to be a growing divide between the top-four teams in the Metropolitan Division and the two teams battling for the final remaining spot in the playoffs.

The Flyers may be in fourth place in the division, but they still boast a healthy six-point lead over the Devils who sit in the second wild card.

If we assume New Jersey and Florida will not be able to climb to any postseason position, but the second wild card, that makes the three most likely candidates to face Washington in the first round Pittsburgh, Columbus and Philadelphia.

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Need to Know: Redskins likely to return at least 16 of their 22 starters from last year

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Need to Know: Redskins likely to return at least 16 of their 22 starters from last year

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, March 23, 34 days before the NFL draft.  

Stability at the top of the depth chart

A Redskins defense that ranked 27th in total defense and was dead last against the run is likely to return nine or 10 of the players who were the primary starters in 2017. The Washington defense, which was 16th overall and 27th running the ball, will certainly return seven starters and could have eight the same as last year.

I’m sure that this will alarm many Redskins fans, but it shouldn’t. Before getting into that, let’s look at the changes.

On defense, the nine starters who are assured of returning are DE Stacy McGee, DL Jonathan Allen, OLB Preston Smith, OLB Ryan Kerrigan, ILB Zach Brown, ILB Mason Foster, CB Josh Norman, S Montae Nicholson, and S D.J. Swearinger.

As of right now, a tenth returning starter has to be penciled in at nose tackle. Yes, if the season started today it would be Ziggy Hood at nose tackle again. More on that in a minute.

The only starting spot that is certain to turn over is the cornerback opposite Norman. Even though Bashaud Breeland’s contract agreement with the Panthers fell through due to a failed physical he is much more likely to land on another NFL team than he is to return to the Redskins.

It is impossible to think that the Redskins will not do something to address the nose tackle position, whether it’s in the draft or in free agency. Then again, it’s impossible to believe they have run the 3-4 defense since 2010 without coming up with a long-term solution at the nose.

On offense, the seven starters certain to return are WR Josh Doctson, WR Jamison Crowder, OT Trent Williams, C Chase Roullier, RG Brandon Scherff, RT Morgan Moses, and TE Jordan Reed. RB Samaje Perine could be an eighth returning starter depending on if the Redskins take a running back early in the draft.

The new starters will be QB Alex Smith, WR Paul Richardson, and someone at left guard.

Having between 16 and 18 returning starters from a team that went 7-9 in 2017 may not be enough turnover for some fans. That’s not a completely unreasonable point of view. However, there is such thing as having too much churn in your starting lineup and some stability for the Redskins may be a good thing this year.

They had five new starters on defense last year and a new defensive coordinator. They also had a new coordinator on offense along with two new wide receivers and, by midseason, changes in the starters at running back and center. This is not counting all of the on-the-fly changes that had to be made due to injuries.

Continuing to make changes in the starting lineup is not always a recipe for success. Sometimes you just need to pick a group of players and, to the extent that you can in the free agency-salary cap world of the NFL, stick with them. Sure, you have to address weakness like nose tackle and possibly running back and fill holes created by free agency departures. However, it is often better to give a player time to acclimate to a system and, especially with a rookie, time to learn the fine points of the game.

Tearing things down and starting over again after a mediocre season is a recipe for, well, more mediocre seasons.

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

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In response to a tweet about this article that said that the Redskins led the league in losing important players in injuries:


Days until:

—Offseason workouts begin (4/16) 25
—Training camp starts (approx. 7/26) 127
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 171

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