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Oregon State goes with Vaz against Arizona State

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Oregon State goes with Vaz against Arizona State

CORVALLIS, Ore. (AP) Oregon State coach Mike Riley was faced with a delicate decision after the Beavers' first loss of the season last weekend - whether to start Cody Vaz or Sean Mannion at quarterback against Arizona State on Saturday night.

Mannion was the team's starter at the beginning of the season, leading the Beavers to wins in their first four games and averaging 339 yards in passing. But the 6-foot-5 sophomore hurt his left knee and required surgery. Vaz, a junior who hadn't started since he'd been in Corvallis, took over and led the Beavers to two straight wins.

Then came Washington. Mannion returned as starter but threw four picks before he was replaced by Vaz, who fell just short of pulling off a Beavers comeback in a 20-17 loss last Saturday.

That put Riley in a difficult spot.

``Obviously, it's one of those things that's not easy,'' Riley said. ``You look at the integrity of the competition and you try to make a decision for the team that's right this minute. We think Cody's playing a little bit better right now and deserves the start.''

Mannion was gracious, telling Vaz he was ``behind him 100 percent.'' He also vowed to get better.

``It's a little disappointing, but I'm confident in myself, and I've got a ton of confidence in my teammates,'' Mannion said. ``You know, this is a team. It's not about any one player.''

Overall, the 13th-ranked Beavers (6-1, 4-1 Pac-12) were banged up as they looked toward rebounding from the Washington loss against the Sun Devils. Receiver Markus Wheaton suffered a concussion after a hard hit in the loss to the Huskies, but should return against the Sun Devils. Running back Storm Woods had a sore left knee but said he's probably play.

Oregon State will likely be without cornerback Jordan Poyer, who has five interceptions this season and is tied for second nationally. Poyer has a sprained right knee and didn't practice this week, although Riley wouldn't definitively rule him out for Saturday night's game.

Arizona State is expected to see the return of defensive tackle Will Sutton, who returned to practice this week. Sutton, considered one of the top defensive players in the Pac-12, injured his right knee early in the Sun Devils' 43-21 loss to Oregon on Oct. 18 and hasn't played since.

The loss to the Ducks was the first of two straight at home for Arizona State (5-3, 3-2) after a three-game winning streak. The Sun Devils fell 45-43 to UCLA last weekend, but they are still in the thick of the Pac-12 South race behind USC and the Bruins.

``Our guys had a great spirit and a great attitude, just like they have had for me all year long. I know they are going to go up there for me and play hard and prepare to win and that is what we have to do,'' Sun Devils coach Todd Graham said. ``That is the great thing about things in the south right now, it is wide open and no one is sitting any better than we are.''

Arizona State, just a win away from bowl eligibility, has a three-game losing streak in Corvallis, although the Sun Devils defeated the Beavers 35-20 last year in Tempe.

Whether the Beavers play Vaz or Mannion shouldn't make much of a difference for Arizona State, which is ranked third in the nation in pass defense, allowing opponents an average of just 148.8 yards per game. Conversely, the Beavers are ranked 15th in the nation for pass offense with an average of nearly 312 yards a game.

In fact, the game figures to be a battle of defenses. Arizona State and Oregon State are ranked first and second, respectively, in the Pac-12 for overall defense. The Sun Devils are allowing just 322 yards a game, while the Beavers are allowing an average of 344.1.

Vaz is averaging 201 yards passing per game in his two-plus appearances, with four touchdowns and no interceptions. He said he has some goals against Arizona State, and they have nothing to do with any competition with Mannion.

``I just want to make the most of it. I'm going to do whatever it takes to win,'' he said earlier this week. ``We can't try to force anything offensively, we've got to convert on third downs - that's kind of been our Achilles' heel in the last few games, not staying on the field. We just have to move the ball down the field, convert on third down, and we'll be fine.''

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Get to know newest Capitals defenseman Michal Kempny

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Get to know newest Capitals defenseman Michal Kempny

On Monday, with the NHL trade deadline approaching, the Washington Capitals addressed a need for blue line depth by acquiring Michal Kempny from the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for a conditional third-round pick in the 2018 NHL Draft.

But before you begin to analyze how the move impacts the Capitals' outlook heading forward, lets take some time to get to know the newest member of the Caps.

Who is Michal Kempny?

Michal Kempny is a 27-year-old defenseman from the Czech Republic. He was born on Sept. 8, 1990 in Hodonin, a small town in southwestern Czech Republic near the border of Austria and Slovakia. Kempny began his hockey career playing for SHK Hodonin. Kempny knew very little english upon arriving to the NHL, but credited his girlfriend Showtime shows to helping him become more comfortable speaking the language. 

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What International Experience Does Michal Kempny Have?

Michal Kempny played professionally for HC Kometa Brno of the Czech Extraliga and Avangard Omsk of the Kontinental Hockey League. Kempny was a standout player on the international stage, playing for the Czech Republic U18, U20 and Men's National teams.

MORE ON THE TRADE: WHERE DOES KEMPNY FIT IN THE CAPS ROSTER

When Did Michal Kempny Make His NHL Debut?

Michal Kempny was signed to a one-year contract as an undrafted free agent by the Chicago Blackhawks in May, 2016 and made his NHL debut in October, 2016. Kempny scored his first NHL goal on Dec. 30, 2016 against Carolina Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward. Kempny appeared in 50 games for the Blackhawks during the 2016-17 season, recording two goals and six assists. The Blackhawks re-signed Kempny to a one-year extension during the offseason. Kempny played in 31 games this season before being traded to the Capitals.

What Type of Hockey Player is Michal Kempny?

Kempny is a 6-0, 194-pound defenseman with a strong left-handed shot. Known for his play on the offensive end, Kempny was never able to gain the trust of Joel Quenneville on the defensive end. But Kempny has a good bit of offensive upside, thanks to his passing skills and strong shot, which is why the Blackhawks took a flier on him in the first place and why he was an ideal trade candidate for the Capitals. But again, Kempny's size is less than ideal for a top-tier blue-liner and while he doesn't shy away from contact, he is rarely much of a physical presence. 

What Does Michal Kempny's Contract Look Like?

Michael Kempny is set to become an unrestricted free agent the the end of the 2017-18 season and has a cap hit of just $900,000.

RELATED: TROTZ REACTS TO RACIAL COMMENTS MADE BY CHICAGO FANS

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Its Day 1 of spring training and Bryce Harper is already done taking questions regarding his future

Its Day 1 of spring training and Bryce Harper is already done taking questions regarding his future

So if you have not heard, Bryce Harper is going to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2018 season.

All off-season talking heads, baseball aficionados, radio hosts, etc. were speculating on where the outfielder’s destination will be next year.

And we are still a year away from it actually happening.

RELATED: VEGAS SETS OVER/UNDERS FOR 2018 MLB SEASON

Reporting to spring training on Monday, Harper did not waste any time telling the media how his press conferences were going to play out this season.

“If guys do [ask], or talk anything about that, I will be walking right out the door.”

Entering his seventh season with the Washington Nationals, the 25-year-old is coming off the second-best season, statistically, of his career. The 2015 NL MVP has hit .285 in his career, with 150 home runs and 421 RBIs. Unquestionably he is the face of the Nationals’ organization, if not, the best player in the team’s history.

If he does end the season without a contract extension, he will join Rafael Palmeiro, Alex Rodriguez, Randy Johnson, and Barry Bonds as the top sought out free agents in MLB history.

One thing is for certain in terms of Harper’s free agency; Harper has given no inclination on where his landing spot will be.  The top three cities are of course his favorite childhood team, the New York Yankees; joining with one of his closest friends with the Chicago Cubs; or just staying with Washington.

Wherever he does land, it does appear that it will be the largest contract given to a free agent ever.

As for now we just wait and direct any of your calls to his agent Scott Boras.

READ ALSO: NATIONALS FULL SPRING TRAINING SCHEDULE