Nationals

'Bama bashes Notre Dame 42-14 in BCS title game

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'Bama bashes Notre Dame 42-14 in BCS title game

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) Barely taking time to celebrate their latest national championship, Nick Saban and the Alabama Crimson Tide are ready to get back to work.

That's how they make it look so easy.

In what must be an increasingly frustrating scene for the rest of college football, another season ended with Saban and his players frolicking in the middle of a confetti-strewn field. Eddie Lacy ran all over Notre Dame, AJ McCarron turned in another dazzling performance through the air, and the Tide defense shut down the Fighting Irish until it was no longer in doubt.

The result was a 42-14 blowout in the BCS title game Monday night, not only making Alabama a back-to-back champion, but a full-fledged dynasty with three crowns in four years.

This one was especially satisfying to Saban.

``People talk about how the most difficult thing is to win your first championship,'' he said. ``Really, the most difficult one to win is the next one, because there's always a feeling of entitlement.''

Rest assured, that feeling won't last long in Tuscaloosa.

While Saban insisted he was ``happy as hell'' and ``has never been prouder of a group of young men,'' it was hard to tell. He was already talking about reporting to the office Wednesday morning and getting started on next season.

``One of these days, when I'm sitting on the side of the hill watching the stream go by, I'll probably figure it out even more,'' Saban said. ``But what about next year's team? You've got to think about that, too.''

So, in short order, he'll be talking with underclassmen about entering the NFL draft, making sure everyone goes back to class on schedule, and getting started on that next depth chart.

``The Process,'' as he calls it, never stops.

``We're going to enjoy it for 24 hours or so,'' Saban said.

No. 2 Alabama quieted the top-ranked Irish on the very first drive - so much for waking up the echoes - and could've started the celebration at halftime, heading to the locker room with a commanding 28-0 lead.

The Tide (13-1) pushed it out to 35-0 midway through the third quarter on the third of McCarron's four touchdown passes, a 34-yarder to Amari Cooper with a defender nowhere in sight.

At that point, Alabama was on a 69-0 blitz in national title games, having scored the last 13 points in its 2010 triumph over Texas and blanked LSU 21-0 for last year's BCS crown.

When Everett Golson finally scored for Notre Dame (12-1) with about 4 minutes remaining in the third, it snapped a scoreless stretch of nearly two full games - 108 minutes and 7 seconds - by the Tide.

``It was just a complete game by the offense, defense and special teams,'' said Alabama linebacker C.J. Mosley, the defensive MVP with eight tackles, one of them behind the line.

Despite the dazzling numbers by McCarron - 20 of 28 for 264 yards - he was denied a second straight offensive MVP award in the title game. That went to Lacy, who finished with 140 yards rushing on 20 carries and scored two TDs. Not a bad finish for the junior, who surely helped his status in the NFL draft should he decide to turn pro.

Lacy also was MVP of the Southeastern Conference championship game, rushing for a career-best 181 yards in the thrilling victory over Georgia that gave Alabama a chance to repeat as champion.

The Tide will have some big holes to fill, no matter who decides to leave school early, with offensive tackle D.J. Fluker and cornerback Dee Milliner also pondering their draft prospects. There's not a lot of seniors on the roster, but All-America linemen Barrett Jones and Chance Warmack and safety Robert Lester are among those who definitely won't be back.

But Alabama had some huge holes to fill a year ago, too, with five players drafted in the first 35 picks.

That worked out just fine.

The Crimson Tide wrapped up its ninth Associated Press national title, breaking a tie with Notre Dame for the most by any school and gaining a measure of redemption for a bitter loss to the Irish almost four decades ago: the epic 1973 Sugar Bowl in which Ara Parseghian's team edged Bear Bryant's powerhouse 24-23.

``The process is ongoing,'' said Saban, tightlipped as ever and showing little emotion after the fourth BCS national title of his coaching career. ``We have a 24-hour rule around here. We enjoy everything for 24 hours.''

Notre Dame went from unranked in the preseason to the top spot in the rankings by the end of the regular season, winning two games in overtime and three other times by seven points or less.

But the long wait for a championship - the Irish haven't finished No. 1 since 1988 - will have to wait at least one more year.

``They just did what Alabama does,'' moaned Manti Te'o, Notre Dame's star linebacker and Heisman Trophy finalist, trying to digest an embarrassing loss in his final college game.

Golson will be back.

He completed his first season as the starter by going 21 of 36 for 270 yards, with a touchdown and an interception. But the young quarterback got no help from the running game, which was held to 32 yards - 170 below its season average.

``We've got to get physically stronger, continue close the gap there,'' said Brian Kelly, the Irish's third-year coach. ``Just overall, we need to see what it looks like. Our guys clearly know what it looks like now - a championship football team. That's back-to-back national champions. That's what it looks like. That's what you measure yourself against there. It's pretty clear across the board what we have to do.''

Kelly vowed this was only beginning, insisting the bar has been raised in South Bend no matter what the outcome.

``We made incredible strides to get to this point,'' he said. ``Now it's pretty clear what we've got to do to get over the top.''

Alabama is already there but still longing for more, not content even after the second-biggest rout of the BCS era that began in 1999. The only title game that was more of a blowout was USC's 55-19 victory over Oklahoma in the 2005 Orange Bowl, a title that was later vacated because of NCAA violations.

You could almost hear television sets around the country flipping to other channels as Alabama poured it on, a hugely anticipated matchup between two of the nation's most storied programs reduced to a laugher when the Tide scored on its first three possessions.

``We're going for it next year again,'' said offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandijo, only a sophomore and already the owner of two rings. ``And again. And again. And again. I love to win. That's why I came here.''

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Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963

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How to execute the ultimate D.C. sports day of the summer

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How to execute the ultimate D.C. sports day of the summer

Summertime; the time of year when you only look at your calendar to make sure you haven’t double-booked yourself for your ritual weekend brunches, or the time of year you exhaust every vacation day you’ve stored up over the course of the year to get the kids somewhere near their grandparents so you can continue to work on that ever-elusive summer dad-bod. Either one is a win in my book.

Summer also gives birth to one of the rare occasions when there can be three to four different DC-sports related activities all occurring within the same 24-hour timeframe. Thursday, June 20, is THAT day!

Who’s playing? Is there a chance I can attend the game? If not, how do you watch them all? These burning questions are about to be answered faster than you can ride down the escalator at the Pentagon City Metro Station…I think. So, let’s hurry and get started.

We’ll run through these one at a time, in chronological order!

Event 1: Soccer: 3 p.m. EST

1.       Who’s playing?

a.       The US Women’s National Team takes the pitch against Sweden as they look to continue their international dominance in the Women’s World Cup. And yes, it’s DC team because we’re the nation’s Capital.

2.       Reason to watch/attend?

a.       These women are the best Soccer players on the planet; having showcased their proficiency for many years on the world stage. Remember they put up 13 against Thailand in their first match! Don’t miss an opportunity to witness history in the making.  

3.       How to watch/attend?

a.       You can either pull up to Dulles and jump on the next flight to France, or you can be like the rest of us Super-geniuses and tune in at 3pm to watch it from the comfort of your favorite Soccer bar. Make sure to buy a round for anyone rocking a USWNT jersey; #OneNationOneTeam. USA, USA, USA!!!

Event 2: Baseball: 7 p.m. EST

1.       Who’s playing?

a.       The Washington Nationals are wrapping up a 4-game series against the Philadelphia Phillies.

2.       Why should I watch/attend?

a.       This is the last day of Bryce Harper in THIS city for the remainder of the season. HALLELUJAH! 

3.       How to watch/attend?

a.       First pitch is at 7:05p so you can either slide by the park and enjoy the smorgasbord of delicacies offered at Nats park, or you can tune in on the tube. I suggest hitting the park and booing Harper until you lose your voice! Tell your boss it’s my fault you’re hoarse. It won’t be the first time someone did that.

Event 3: Basketball(NBA): 8 p.m. EST

1.       Who’s playing?

a.       NOBODY, derp! But, it’s the NBA draft and frankly put, I couldn’t be more excited it’s finally here.

2.       Why should I watch/attend?

a.       This is the first official activation in the post-Grunfeld era for the Wizards. More importantly, this will be the first chance for Wiz fans to wrap their minds around the new direction the team will be taking. Optimism starts here!

3.       How to watch/attend?

a.       Unless you feel like hopping a flight to Chicago to see the Draft in person, I highly suggest you tune in to NBC Sports Washington for full draft coverage on ‘Wizards on the Clock’ at 8p. In my humble opinion, you won’t find better comprehensive coverage. You can watch on TV or via the MyTeams App while you’re at the Nats game booing Bryce if you’re slick with multi-tasking.

Event 4: Basketball(WNBA): 10 p.m. EST

1.       Who’s playing?

a.       Your Washington Mystics are out in Sin City to take on the Las Vegas Aces. Note: Bill Laimbeer sighting!

2.       Reason to watch/attend?

a.       The Aces sit atop the Western Conference with Australian native Liz Cambage (she can BALL) holding down the paint. It’s going to be a good test for the Mystics and you’ll get a chance to see how unrelentingly talented Elena Delle Donne, Natasha Cloud, and crew really are. Buckets, the Mystics get buckets!

3.       How to watch/attend?

a.       I know the temptation to hit Vegas is rising by the moment but fret not. You can save a ton of money and possibly help your best bud save his fragile relationship by staying in DC and catching the game at 10 p.m. on Monumental Sports Network/NBC Sports Washington.

Now you know how to do it while maintaining some semblance of sanity, and you can even keep a running tab on who’s been the most DC among your friends. I’m certain we’ll have another opportunity for this phenomenon when Fall comes back around, but for now, let’s all enjoy the summer and all the games therein!

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Redskins fans shouldn't forget about Colt McCoy because the coaches haven't

Redskins fans shouldn't forget about Colt McCoy because the coaches haven't

After a third surgery on his leg in April, Colt McCoy did not practice with the team during OTAs or mandatory minicamp. He was in Ashburn for many of the workouts, but did not take any team snaps.

In a normal quarterback battle, that would put McCoy at a distinct disadvantage, but the Redskins quarterback battle is not exactly normal. 

Veteran Case Keenum and rookie Dwayne Haskins got nearly all of the work at signal caller during the spring practice sessions, and both showed signs of being able to take over head coach Jay Gruden's offense. Keenum proved he can handle the huddle and has quickness when plays broke down behind the line of scrimmage. Haskins showed a rocket arm and a ton of potential, but he's also a rookie trying to learn a boatload about life in the NFL in a hurry, like calling plays, and that showed too. 

All of that is a long way to say neither Keenum nor Haskins locked up the top QB job. And that means the door is still open for McCoy.

"We would love for him to take some reps, but obviously his health is more important right now than anything, and that is the most important thing for him," Gruden said about McCoy on the first day of minicamp. "When his time comes it will come quickly. He will be ready."

Gruden's quote speaks to the biggest advantage McCoy will have once he hits the field. He's been with the Redskins since 2014, and knows Gruden's version of the West Coast offense backwards and forwards. 

Throughout the spring sessions, Haskins made clear that his number one goal for the offseason was to learn the playbook and gain mastery of calling plays in the huddle. McCoy already has that.

Speaking with reporters on the last day of minicamp, Keenum explained that Gruden's offense is the seventh or eighth new system he's learned in the NFL. Keenum said each system is like learning a new language, and that "there is no Rosetta Stone for the West Coast Offense."

If there was a translator, its name would be Colt McCoy. 

Once doctors clear the former University of Texas star, he will immediately be the Redskins quarterback with the best understanding of the offense. That will show up on the field right away.

Remember too that Gruden has tried to turn to McCoy as his quarterback at a few different turns, but injuries have always derailed those plans. If McCoy gets fully healthy in time for Richmond, which team sources believe will happen, he has a chance to finally take over this job.

Make no mistake, Haskins is the Redskins long-term future at the quarterback position. He has the talent but needs to learn the speed of the NFL, from playcalling to pass rush. Eventually though, he will be on the field for the Redskins. 

If he wins the job, it's his.

Same for Keenum, who is probably better than he showed last year in Denver but not as good as his career season with Minnesota in 2017. Keenum could certainly start Week 1 in Philadelphia and is probably ahead of Haskins right now. 

But fans would be wise not to count McCoy out of the quarterback competition. The Redskins coaching staff definitely hasn't. 

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