Redskins

2-week lull is Alabama defense's worst in 5 years

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2-week lull is Alabama defense's worst in 5 years

Alabama's defense has had a two-week aberration.

The Tide has given up more than 400 yards in back-to-back games for the first time in five years.

Johnny Manziel and a Texas A&M offense that's fifth-best in the country piled up 418 yards Saturday in the 29-24 upset that ended the defending champions' 13-game win streak and knocked the Tide out of the No. 1 spot in the polls.

A week earlier, Alabama survived to beat LSU, but not before the Tigers' 71st-ranked offense amassed 435 yards.

Not since Houston generated 404 yards and Mississippi 420 on consecutive weeks in October 2007 had Alabama given up so many yards in consecutive games. That was Nick Saban's first year in Tuscaloosa, and he had a defense that ranked 31st in the country. The Tide hasn't ended a season lower than fifth since.

The Tide's defensive average has gone from 203 yards before the LSU game to 247 this week. That still ranks second nationally behind Florida State.

Alabama is tied with Notre Dame in allowing 11.1 points per game.

Last season Alabama's defense led the nation at 183.6 yards a game, and it allowed 12 touchdowns in 13 games. This season, the opposition has scored 14 TDs through 10 games.

No doubt, the Tide will be better this week. The opponent is Western Carolina, a Football Championship Subdivision team that has lost nine in a row since winning its opener over Division II Mars Hill College.

FABULOUS FRESHMEN: They're known as ``Gurshall'' to the folks at Georgia.

The Bulldogs' Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall showed again Saturday why they're the nation's best 1-2 freshman running back tandem.

Each ran for more than 100 yards in the same game for the third time in a 38-0 win over Auburn.

Gurley ran 11 times for 116 yards and Marshall eight times for 105.

The two have combined for 1,598 yards, the most production by a freshman duo in program history.

MR. DEPENDABLE: Though the depth chart says Imani Cross is a third- or fourth-string running back, he's established himself as Nebraska's go-to guy in short-yardage situations.

The 6-foot-1, 225-pound freshman has carried nine times on third downs when the Cornhuskers have needed 1 to 3 yards. He's made first downs on seven of them.

Inside the opponent's 20-yard line, on any down, Cross has scored on four of eight attempts. Two of those TDs came in a span of 2 1/2 minutes in the third quarter as the Huskers came back from a 14-point deficit to beat Penn State 32-23.

NICE, LONG KICK: Baylor's Aaron Jones made a 58-yard field goal in the first quarter against Oklahoma, the longest for the Bears since Jeff Ireland kicked one the same distance in 1991.

Jones' field goal was the third-longest in the country this season, behind a 61-yarder by Clemson's Spencer Benton and 60-yarder by Washington' Andrew Furney.

REMEMBER THIS NAME: Matt Soltes of Division II East Stroudsburg has finished one of the great seasons for a freshman quarterback.

The 6-foot-3, 215-pounder threw for five touchdowns and 394 yards in a 52-45 loss to Mercyhurst on Saturday, two weeks after setting an all-division freshman record with 666 yards of total offense in a 45-37 win over LIU Post.

Soltes averaged 315.8 yards in total offense to lead D-II freshmen. He didn't become the starter until the fourth game, and he played on a team where 67 of the 85 players were either freshmen or sophomores.

CLOCK WATCHING: If you want to spend a long afternoon at the stadium, go see Baylor. The Bears' average game stretches 3 hours, 43 minutes. That figure is skewed, but only a little, because of a 45-minute weather delay against Kansas.

This is a team that took 3:51 to beat Sam Houston State, and only one of its games has taken less than 3 1/2 hours.

Why? Maybe because Baylor and its opponents combine to average 81 points.

Middle Tennessee is in and out of games in 3:03, quickest in the Bowl Subdivision. The Blue Raiders played North Texas in 2:44 and Florida Atlantic in 2:45.

The national average is 3:17, three minutes longer than in 2011.

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Former Giants OL Mitch Petrus dies of heat stroke at 32

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Former Giants OL Mitch Petrus dies of heat stroke at 32

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Offensive lineman Mitch Petrus, a walk-on at Arkansas who went on to a three-year NFL career that included a Super Bowl win with the New York Giants, has died. He was 32.

Pulaski County Coroner Gerone Hobbs said Petrus died of heat stroke Thursday night at a North Little Rock hospital after working outside that day at his family's shop about 25 miles (40 kilometers) east of Little Rock.

Like much of the country, Arkansas is in the grips of an intense heat wave. In Lonoke County, where Petrus was working, the heat index on Thursday made it feel like it was than 100 degrees (38 Celsius) outside, according to the National Weather Service.

During his college career, Petrus played alongside Razorback greats Darren McFadden and Felix Jones and later earned all-Southeastern Conference honors.

He was drafted by the Giants in the fifth round in 2010 and got into 11 regular-season games his rookie year, with no starts. In his second season, Petrus played in six regular-season games, starting three of them, as the Giants went on to win the Super Bowl. He played six games for the Giants the following season before being released. He was picked up by the New England and played two games for the Patriots before being released. Tennessee then signed him and he played two games for the Titans before the team released him the following March.

After retiring from the NFL in 2013, Petrus returned to Arkansas, where he was well-known and often appeared as a studio analyst and sidelines reporter during televised high school football games. He also had an interest in politics, serving as Republican state Sen. Dismang's chief of staff during the Legislature's 2018 session, when Dismang was the chamber's president.

"With his energy and how positive he was, he was just a perfect fit for that session," Dismang said Friday.

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Michael Vick thinks Dwayne Haskins is in the perfect situation with the Redskins

Michael Vick thinks Dwayne Haskins is in the perfect situation with the Redskins

Though Michael Vick was drafted first overall by the Atlanta Falcons in the 2001 NFL Draft, he didn't immediately become the starter. Instead, he spent most of his rookie season watching and getting accustomed to the NFL before assuming the starting job in 2002 and launching his exciting career. 

Rather than being thrown right into the fire, Vick was given time to learn and transition to the pros.

Now the newest No. 7 to enter the league, Dwayne Haskins, could find himself in a similar situation. With only one year of real experience in college, the Redskins could opt to let Haskins continue to adjust from the sideline and work under the veteran passers on the roster. 

To Vick, that path will make the transition much smoother.

"It's not difficult at all when you have an opportunity to sit behind guys like Case Keenum, who has a ton of experience and knows how to play the game. [Or] Colt McCoy," Vick said Friday on The Sports Junkies when asked about how hard the jump to the NFL will be for Haskins.

While Haskins will most likely take the starting role in the long run, Vick is fine with Keenum or McCoy taking the starting spot to begin the season.

Seeing that Haskins could benefit from the tutelage of the quarterback room in a situation where he's not being put under maximum pressure, Vick strongly believes Haskins progression will be better if it comes naturally.

The now-NFL analyst even mentioned that he talked to head coach Jay Gruden at a golf event recently and stated that Gruden told him, "It's going to take some time" with Haskins. That may not be what some fans want to hear, but Vick knows that time behind the veterans may be exactly what Haskins needs.

"It's not like he's been rushed out there to play. He has some time to develop," Vick said. "That's the most important thing for him right now."

"That's very fortunate for Dwayne to be in that position," he added.

Even as a high-profile pick coming into the league Vick's ascension to starter took time, and that decision seemed to work out pretty well for him.

The Redskins have an opportunity to do the same with Haskins, letting him ease into the NFL and take in everything he can from two veterans. According to Vick, it's the perfect scenario for a rookie QB to be in.

"You get to soak up everything, you get to gain the whole experience without having to be under pressure," Vick said. "That makes it extremely easy when you step out there for the first time."

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