Arkansas aims to snap skid vs. No. 6 Syracuse


Arkansas aims to snap skid vs. No. 6 Syracuse

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) Mike Anderson knew what he was getting into with a difficult early schedule.

After back-to-back losses, the Arkansas coach hopes to come through the brutal opening stretch without any long-term damage - a task that doesn't get any easier when the Razorbacks (3-2) host No. 6 Syracuse on Friday night.

Arkansas lost a pair of games during last week's Las Vegas Invitational, falling to Arizona State and Wisconsin. The tournament started a five-game stretch that could go a long way to determining how seriously the Razorbacks are taken as they try to return to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2008.

Following the game with the Orange (4-0), Arkansas still has two difficult nonconference games next week. The Razorbacks host Oklahoma on Tuesday before traveling to No. 3 Michigan on Dec. 8, a return game following last season's home win over the Wolverines.

All in all, the stretch is hardly the usual lineup of early season cupcakes.

``It's a slate that's probably very similar to what you're going to see in the (Southeastern Conference),'' Anderson said. ``So, it gives us an opportunity to find out more about this team. We want to be one of the better teams in the country, so we get a chance first hand with this particular slate.''

While Anderson focused on the positives of such a difficult nonconference schedule, he carefully avoided the potential negatives - primarily the possibility of a series of losses that could damage both Arkansas' postseason hopes as well as its psyche.

The Razorbacks were 18-14 last season in Anderson's first year as coach after leaving Missouri. After an offseason of roster turnover, Arkansas has featured four new faces - three freshmen (Anthlon Bell, Jacorey Williams and Michael Qualls) and one junior college transfer (Coty Clarke) - so far this season.

Clarke has had the most immediate impact for the Razorbacks, leading the team in rebounds (6.8) in less than 20 minutes per game. The other newcomers have shown potential but have yet to help an Arkansas team that's struggled to connect from the outside - hitting just 22 of 79 (27.8 percent) of its 3-pointers.

That must improve against Syracuse and its zone defense.

``It will be a great experience for me as a freshman,'' Williams said. `It's a great opportunity to see where we're at as a team.''

The younger players aren't the only ones being counted on to improve.

Guard Mardracus Wade led the SEC in 3-point shooting last season, connecting on nearly 46 percent of his shots from behind the arc. The junior has hit 40 percent of his 3-pointers so far this season, but he's only attempted 10 shots and Anderson wants him to become more assertive - both against the Orange and moving forward.

Wade said the younger players took last week's losses ``pretty hard.'' He also welcomed the chance for the Razorbacks to redeem themselves so quickly against more top competition.

``I knew (the early schedule) was going to be tough, but at the same time I knew what these guys bring to the table and I knew that we were going to have to step up,'' Wade said. ``It's not an easy challenge, but we're up to it.''

Sophomore BJ Young led the Razorbacks in scoring last season and has returned from an early two-game suspension for violating team rules to once again serve as the focal point of the offense. The guard is averaging 20.5 points per game, scoring a season-high 29 points in the loss to the Sun Devils.

Young will face his most difficult task yet Friday in trying to slow the Syracuse backcourt duo of Michael Carter-Williams and Brandon Triche. Carter-Williams is averaging nearly 10 assists per game after tallying a career-high 13 in a win over Colgate, and Triche is tied with teammate James Southerland for the team lead in scoring at 15.3 points per game.

Arkansas forward Marshawn Powell, who is averaging 12.2 points per game while returning from last season's torn ACL in his right knee, said he'll approach the highly ranked Orange ``like it's an ordinary game.''

Anderson was a bit more mindful of the talented Syracuse roster. He was also confident that the Razorbacks will carry forward their confidence - regardless of their record during the difficult five-game stretch.

``I think in any game you play to win, and that's going to be our mindset,'' Anderson said. ``Obviously, we want to take care of the home court first. To me, the most important game is going to be this one here. I think there's a lot of basketball in the season and lot to be played.''

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Redskins Trey Quinn and Jordan Reed were ready for emergency quarterback duty after Alex Smith's injury

Redskins Trey Quinn and Jordan Reed were ready for emergency quarterback duty after Alex Smith's injury

FedExField — The last we saw Redskins rookie wide receiver Trey Quinn was the third quarter of the first game of the season on Sept. 9. 

Sunday afternoon against the Houston Texans, in his first game back from a right ankle injury, Quinn found himself a heartbeat away from playing quarterback. 

That wasn’t the plan when the day started. But no one could have known that starting quarterback Alex Smith would sustain a broken leg. With backup Colt McCoy in the game and taking shots all over the place, Quinn and tight end Jordan Reed were the options if another injury struck. 

Redskins coach Jay Gruden said Quinn was his guy if McCoy went down. Third-string quarterbacks are rarely active anyway, but Washington doesn’t have one on its 53-man roster or its practice squad. 

“If it came to that I’d have to go in there and make some plays,” Quinn said. “I was ready.”

Quinn is no quarterback, but he is a great athlete. At 12 he pitched in the Little League World Series and threw a no-hitter. He still holds the Louisiana state record for receptions (357) and receiving yards (6,566) and played two years at LSU and two more at SMU before the Redskins drafted him in the seventh round with the final selection of the 2018 draft. 

Quinn hurt his right ankle feeling a punt in the season opener against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 1 and just returned from injured reserve this week. 

Reed actually was a quarterback in high school and was recruited at that position by the University of Florida. He even played there some as a redshirt freshman and had three touchdown passes to one interception, but quickly moved to tight end. He, too, was ready – but the coaches weren’t exactly telling him to warm up. 

“Nah. Because you don’t even want to put that in the atmosphere” Reed said.

Jinxes aside, Quinn and Reed didn’t need to step in at quarterback to contribute. Both had big days. Reed caught seven passes for 71 yards and a touchdown. Quinn moved right into the slot receiver position vacant for so long with Jamison Crowder hurt and caught four passes for 49 yards. 

Reed and Smith, before his injury, did have a hiccup in the end zone. A pass intended for Reed was intercepted and returned 101 yards for a touchdown by Texans safety Justin Reid. On that 3rd-and-8 play, Reed ran what Gruden called a “swoll” route. But Smith had to step around Texans outside linebacker Jadeveon Clowney and the nose tackle was looping toward him as well. Reed took an angle toward the ball Smith didn’t expect. 

The quarterback didn’t have clear vision of where his tight end was and had to rush the pass. The result gave Houston a 17-7 lead instead of what could have been a 10-10 game or even a Redskins’ lead.

Reed more than made up for it with his touchdown catch one play after McCoy had to come in for the injured Smith. That catch cut the Houston lead to 17-14 with 4:47 left in the third quarter. 

Quinn, meanwhile, caught a 15-yard pass on a 2nd-and-11 to get the ball down to the Houston 15 with 47 seconds left in the first quarter. Three plays later running back Adrian Peterson was in the end zone and the Texans’ lead was cut to 10-7. 

Quinn also had a 13-yard catch on a 3rd-and-6 in the second quarter to get the ball to the Houston 16. That came on the ill-fated drive that ended with the 101-yard interception return. 

Quinn’s 11-yard catch with 33 seconds to go was Washington’s last one of the game and got the ball to the Houston 45. Three plays later, kicker Dustin Hopkins’ 63-yard field goal attempt to win it fell short.

Quinn was also immediately inserted into the lineup as the punt returner, but the only Texans punt went out of bounds. Expect him back in that role against the Dallas Cowboys on Thanksgiving Day.  

“Trey had a real big game for us,” Reed said. “He’s a good player. He’s a real good player.”


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What a rush: Lamar Jackson ran for 117 yards in win

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What a rush: Lamar Jackson ran for 117 yards in win

The opening drive set the tone.

Stepping on the field for the first time as a starting quarterback in the NFL, Lamar Jackson led the Ravens on an 11-play, 75-yard touchdown to get the team out to an early 7-0 lead over the Bengals.

In that drive, the rookie from Louisville did not attempt one pass. His legs did the work as he rushed for 46 yard on five carries. 

That was the type of day it was for Jackson. While his passing numbers (13-19, 150 yards, 1 INT) were pedestrian, the 117 yards rushing are what left the Ravens fans and the Bengals defense with their heads on a swivel.

Showing the lighting quickness that help make a name for himself in college and made him such an intriguing prospect coming into this year’s draft, Jackson was the team’s leading rusher in the much-needed, come-from-behind 24-21 win over the Bengals.

It was clear head coach John Harbaugh and his staff came into the game with a run-first game plan. Jackson’s 117 yards, along with Gus Edwards’ 115 yards led the way for Baltimore’s 265 yards rushing on the day. 

Jackson got the start in place of Joe Flacco who was sidelined due to a hip injury.

While Jackson has seen time on the field in various offensive packages this season, his first start and win as an NFL quarterback came at a crucial time for the Ravens as the playoff race is heating up.