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Texas Tech's defense, offense serve notice in win

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Texas Tech's defense, offense serve notice in win

Texas Tech fell from the top-ranked pass defense in the country to fourth after allowing 275 yards through the air to West Virginia on Saturday.

It's doubtful the Red Raiders mind in the least, or have any doubts about the effectiveness of their secondary, after a 49-14 throttling of the Mountaineers.

Texas Tech entered its game with West Virginia allowing a paltry 117.4 yards passing per game, even after struggling in a 41-20 loss to Oklahoma a week earlier. The Red Raiders are now allowing 143.7 yards passing per game, but they held Heisman Trophy hopeful quarterback Geno Smith, who was 29 of 55 passing, to only five yards per attempt.

The win was enough to allow Texas Tech to jump into the weekly Associated Press college football poll this week at No. 18.

It also served notice that the Red Raiders' pass defense is for real.

AIR RAIDERS: The performance of Texas Tech's defense might have shocked some across the country, but it was quarterback Seth Doege and the Red Raiders' offense that enjoyed a coming-out party on the national stage.

Doege's 499 yards passing led the country this week. The senior was 32 of 42 passing and had six touchdowns, helping Texas Tech jump from seventh to fourth in the nation in passing offense with an average of 369 yards per game.

For those who wondered if Texas Tech would continue its wide-open attack in the post-Mike Leach era, third-year coach Tommy Tuberville has answered that question once and for all. The Red Raiders were seventh in the nation in passing in Tuberville's first season with an average of 318.9 yards per game, and they upped that to 345.4 last year - again finishing seventh nationally.

Most importantly, they've already equaled last season's win total this season.

TIGER PRIDE: West Virginia wasn't the only Top 5 team to go down this week. No. 3 South Carolina, a week after dispatching of Southeastern Conference East foe Georgia, ran into one of the top rushing defenses in the country at LSU.

The Tigers held the Gamecocks and standout running back Marcus Lattimore to just 34 yards overall rushing in their 23-21 win. South Carolina entered the game averaging 181.5 yards per game on the ground, but LSU's sixth-best rushing defense took control and is now allowing 89.3 yards rushing per game.

ROLL TIDE, ROLL: Not to be outdone by its SEC West rival, Alabama reminded everyone exactly who the top rushing defense in the country is in a 42-10 win over Missouri.

Or, top defense overall, for that matter.

The Crimson Tide allowed only three yards rushing by the Tigers, bolstered by sacking Missouri quarterback Corbin Berkstresser for minus 50 yards. The defending national champions are now allowing a 55.3 yards rushing per game, 181.2 yards overall - both tops in the country.

EXTRA POINTS: Louisiana Tech might have fallen from the AP poll after its 59-57 loss to Texas A&M, but it leads the country in scoring offense with 53.8 points per game. ... Oregon is second with an average of 52.3 points per game. ... Nevada running back Stefphon Jefferson had 185 yards rushing on 34 carries in a 42-27 win over Duke and leads the country with an average of 162.9 yards. ... Marshall's Rakeem Cato didn't play last week, but he has now passed West Virginia's Smith and is tops with 385.2 yards passing per game.

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The human side of the NHL's trade deadline

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USA TODAY Sports

The human side of the NHL's trade deadline

Congratulations! You just got a new job. There’s just one catch: it’s in a new city.

Oh, and by the way, you start tomorrow. Good luck.

That would be a pretty big shock for anyone, but it is the reality that hockey players constantly face and one that is exacerbated as the trade deadline approaches.

“I know fans and media get really excited about it, but they're not the ones that have to pick up and move their families,” Brooks Orpik said following Sunday’s practice. “I think players are looked at as kind of objects at times, just a number. People don't know there's a human side to trades.”

This season’s NHL trade deadline is 3 p.m. on Monday. Until then, every locker room faces a degree of uncertainty.

RELATED: KEMPNY GETS QUICK PROMOTION TO THE TOP-FOUR

Almost no player or prospect is untouchable. Even if there are no rumors surrounding a team or things seem set, the threat of a trade hangs over the heads of the players like the sword of Damocles until the deadline finally comes and goes.

Even for those players who know they won’t be moved or who can’t be moved because of various clauses in their contracts, it still remains a stressful time as they could still see friends shipped to another city.

“I think what happens on that day is all the players, as soon as they get off the ice at morning skate, they're all looking at their phones and trying to see what happens,” Barry Trotz said. “They want to see what happens around the league.”

Sure, a player can go from a last place team to a contender. On the surface, they should be happy. Behind the scenes, however, midseason trades always carry family implications.

“It's tough on guys,” Orpik said. “Guys have kids in schools or have roots in the community of the teams they play for. As fun as it is for some people, I think as players it can definitely be nerve-wracking for people.”

MORE CAPITALS: TRADE TO CAPS POTENTIALLY OFFERS JERABEK WHAT HE NEVER GOT IN MONTREAL

When those trades do happen, they obviously can throw a player’s life upside-down.

For those players who are not traded, the team has to adjust both to losing familiar faces and to embracing new ones into the locker room.

“When someone comes into a new group, it's not much changed except for obviously a new piece,” Jay Beagle said. “But it's definitely harder on them so you try to make it as easy as possible on them.”

Thus far, the Capitals have added defensemen Michal Kempny and Jakub Jerabek over the past week. While both trades were done in exchange for draft picks, Taylor Chorney was a casualty of the trades as he was placed on waivers to make room for the new additions and was claimed by the Columbus Blue Jackets.

“It's tough losing guys, especially guys that are well-liked in our room,” Orpik said. “Taylor Chorney is a really well-liked guy so I think that impacted us a little bit.”

On Monday, fans, analysts, players and coaches alike will all be frantically checking their phones looking for the latest trade news, but while the deadline brings excitement for fans, it bears very different feelings for the players involved. Those players are people working a job and those trades mean uprooting their life in a matter of days. Regardless of whether a player is better off in terms of the team situation, there is still a human cost to doing business.

“It can affect certain guys because their names are obviously spread all over the place,” Trotz said. “They're human too. They pretend to not hear it, but they do.”

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Michal Kempny already promoted to top-four at Sunday's practice

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Michal Kempny already promoted to top-four at Sunday's practice

After two games, it looks like Michal Kempny is already moving up in the lineup.

At Sunday’s practice, Kempny played on the team's second defensive pairing, lining up on the left of John Carlson. Previously, the Czech defenseman had been playing on the right of Brooks Orpik. The move to the left allows him to play on his natural side as he is a left-handed shot.

Here are the pairs from Sunday’s practice:

Dmitry Orlov – Matt Niskanen
Michal Kempny – John Carlson
Brooks Orpik – Christian Djoos
Jakub Jerabek – Madison Bowey

Acquired on Monday from the Chicago Blackhawks, Kempny has played in two games for the Capitals and has received glowing reviews thus far.

“He's a really good pro, that's what sticks out,” head coach Barry Trotz said. “He takes care of himself, he works at his game off the ice and with the guys, he has fit in very well.”

RELATED: THE TRADE TO WASHINGTON OFFERS JERABEK THE CHANCE HE NEVER SEEMED TO GET IN MONTREAL

“I've gotten to play a little bit with [Kempny] the last couple games,” Brooks Orpik said. “I think he's a guy that, he moves pretty well and he moves the puck pretty well and likes to keep things pretty simple. He's very consistent and predictable so he's very easy to play with.”

When the Capitals first acquired Kempny, it seemed like the best fit for him would be alongside Carlson. It’s a natural fit with Kempny being a left-shot and Carlson a righty. It also bumps down Christian Djoos to a third-pair role which is preferable to having a rookie in the top-four come the playoffs.

Should Kempny play well with Carlson, that would likely solidify Washington’s top two pairs. The Orlov-Niskanen pair was not going to be changed and Carlson was going to be on the second pair. The only question was who would ultimately play with him in the postseason?

The third pair, however, remains a work in progress.

The Caps will have to wait at least another day for the debut of their second recent acquisition as Jakub Jerabek cannot yet play due to visa issues and will miss Monday's game, reports Isabelle Khurshudyan.

Considering the issues Washington has had on defense, they would not have brought in another defenseman just to be a healthy scratch. He will get his shot to earn a spot in the lineup.

With two new defensemen in tow, obviously the team will need to experiment over the next few days and weeks to find the right combinations.

“We're going to have to probably spend at least the next 10 to 12 games doing that and then we'll have to sort of settle in,” Trotz said. “With eight defenseman, you sort of want to see which guys you’re going to play and who to play as partners and sort of a little bit of ranking. If someone goes down, who's filling that extra role?”

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