Aggies try for first 10-win season since 1998

Aggies try for first 10-win season since 1998

COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin doesn't have to say much this week to motivate his team.

The ninth-ranked Aggies (9-2, 5-2 SEC) know what's at stake as they aim for their first 10-win season since 1998, and try to break a three-game losing streak to Missouri.

``We're playing a team that no one on this football team has ever beaten,'' Sumlin said. ``It's senior day. That'll be enough to get our attention right there.''

Sumlin also knows that his team can't take Missouri (5-6, 2-5) lightly with the Tigers needing a win to become bowl eligible.

``Both sides have a lot to play for,'' Sumlin said. ``Last time I checked, they haven't lost here in a while. I don't think they'll be lacking any confidence at all walking into this place.''

Because of a scheduling quirk, Missouri is playing against the Aggies in College Station for the third straight season. The Tigers got a 30-9 win in 2010 and escaped with a 38-31 win in overtime last season in the Big 12 before both teams moved to the Southeastern Conference for this season.

``This has to be a world record, third time going down there,'' Missouri coach Gary Pinkel joked. ``All teams are different. Our players have great respect for A&M and it is a great place to play a football game. That being said, the reason we won those games was because we played well and made plays at the end to win.''

The Tigers' big task on Saturday will be trying to contain Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel. The redshirt freshman is second in the nation in total offense with more than 378 yards a game, and the 20.73 points a game he's responsible for are tied for third in the country.

He's the fifth player and first freshman in FBS history to pass for at least 3,000 yards with at least 1,000 yards rushing in a season, and his 4,161 yards are a school record for total offense in a season.

``He's a very, very impressive player,'' Pinkel said. ``He's athletic, he throws the ball well and he's accurate. He can throw off balance, he's creative. When you watch film you wonder how he pulls stuff off but he does. He plays with a lot of confidence.''

Pinkel is certainly impressed with Manziel's work, but noted that it has been helped by playing behind a talented and experienced offensive line. The group is led by senior center Patrick Lewis, who has started 46 straight games, and has junior tackles Luke Joeckel and Jake Matthews, who have started 37 and 31 straight games, respectively.

Manziel accounted for five touchdowns in just more than a half of Texas A&M's 47-28 win over Sam Houston State on Saturday. He needs another strong game to impress Heisman Trophy voters one more time before they make their decision.

Sumlin wouldn't directly answer the question when asked if he thought Manziel should become the first freshman to win the award. But he did rave about his quarterback.

``If you look at his numbers and what he's done compared to everyone else, they speak for themselves,'' he said. ``I'll take it a step further, if you look at his numbers compared to anyone else who has ever played the game, they speak for themselves.''

Texas A&M offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury has enjoyed watching Manziel develop this season.

``To be a freshman and do what he's done in that conference is hard to believe unless you're a part of it and have watched it every day and how much he's improved from Day 1 until now,'' Kingsbury said. ``It's really been fun to watch.''

The Tigers quarterback situation is up in the air entering Saturday's game. Starter James Franklin had a concussion last week against Syracuse and will be a game-time decision.

If he can't go, Missouri will use redshirt freshman Corbin Berkstresser. He is 2-1 as a starter this season, and has thrown for 783 yards with three touchdowns and six interceptions.

Whoever is at quarterback, he'll be helped by the presence of senior running back Kendial Lawrence. Lawrence has scored 11 touchdowns and needs 62 yards to reach 1,000 yards for the first time in his career.

``I'm sure he'll have opportunities at the professional level,'' Pinkel said. ``He's having a great year. Even with all our challenges on the offensive line it's amazing that he almost has 1,000 yards. He's very talented and a tough runner.''

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Brian MacLellan got his day with the Stanley Cup over the weekend

Brian MacLellan got his day with the Stanley Cup over the weekend

Washington Capitals GM Brian MacLellan finally got his day. 

Over the weekend, MacLellan played host to the Stanley Cup, taking it home to his offseason house in Minnesota. 

MacLellan brought the Cup to Powderhorn Park, where a youth hockey tournament was being put on by the Herb Brooks Foundation. 

MacLellean talked with local media about the experience:

"It's a fun day, a fun day to see people react to the Cup," MacLellan told FOX 9 TV. "You know, it brings a lot of smiles to people's faces, people that sometimes don't get a chance to get close to it are getting an opportunity and it's fun to watch them enjoy it."


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10 Questions for 10 Days: After Josh Norman, what's the plan at cornerback?

10 Questions for 10 Days: After Josh Norman, what's the plan at cornerback?

With Redskins Training Camp set to begin July 26th, JP Finlay takes a look at 10 of the most pressing questions for the Burgundy and Gold before the team heads to Richmond. 

No. 10: Major questions at linebacker on Redskins depth chart 

No. 9: What is Kevin O’Connell's new role in Redskins offense?

No. 8: More investments on D-Line, but who goes where?

No. 7: Do the Redskins have a 1,000-yard WR?

No. 6: Is Shawn Lauvao the concern, or is the issue bigger on the O-Line?

No. 5: What can the Redskins expect from Derrius Guice?

No. 4: After Josh Norman, what's the plan at cornerback?

In a way, the Redskins are quite lucky. Not every team in the NFL has an unequivocal No. 1 corner. Washington has that in Josh Norman

His interception numbers in 2017 did not get the job done, but he still played quite well. Norman got targeted significantly less than the league average, which means NFL quarterbacks actively chose not to mess with former All Pro. 

Still, Norman needs more interceptions than last year. He grabbed none, and he will admit that he must create more turnovers. 

Regardless, Norman is not the Redskins question mark at cornerback. What happens after Norman is the question. 

Washington moved quick this offseason to lock up Quinton Dunbar off restricted free agency. Dunbar has size and range, and has looked quite capable, in spots. He doesn't have a ton of experience, however, and will be asked to start this fall. The team also signed veteran Orlando Scandrick - from the Cowboys - as a likely nickel/slot corner. 

Second-year man Fabian Moreau will be expected to take a significant step forward this fall. The Redskins would like very much to be able to primarily rely on Norman, Moreau and Dunbar while asking less of Scandrick. 

Don't forget Washington lost Kendall Fuller and Bashaud Breeland this offseason. Fuller got moved to Kansas City as part of the Alex Smith trade, and Breeland remains a free agent.

Redskins coaches won't tell the exact truth, but the the team would love for Moreau to emerge opposite Norman and let Dunbar play in the slot. Or maybe let Moreau emerge in the slot, like Fuller did in 2017, and Dunbar opposite Norman. Scandrick hasn't played a full season since 2013, and the 'Skins brass can't expect that in 2018 for the 31-year-old corner. 

Josh Holsey, Adonis Alexander and Greg Stroman will provide depth at the bottom of the roster. That's two seventh-round picks and a supplemental sixth round pick. While each player provides reasons for optimism, it's hard to think any of the three young players will provide immediate help. They're better focused fighting for a roster spot than a starting spot. 

In 2017, cornerback ranked as a strength for the Redskins. 

In 2018, it's a big question. Elite play from Norman could change much of that equation. 


— Contract years: Redskins face 5 tough decisions 

— Dead Money: Trades, misses and mistakes hurt Redskins salary cap


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