NCAA

Bills replace playoff objective with progress

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Bills replace playoff objective with progress

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) No longer in playoff contention, quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Buffalo Bills believe they still have something important to compete for before the season is over.

Job security.

With questions being raised about his future as well as that of coach Chan Gailey's, Fitzpatrick can't predict what changes might be coming this offseason. What he and the team can control is salvaging what's left by using the final two games to show they're making progress.

That's the argument Fitzpatrick laid out Monday, a day after an embarrassing 50-17 loss to Seattle that formally knocked the Bills (5-9) out of the playoff race for a 13th straight season.

``We all understand the situation we're in right now,'' Fitzpatrick said. ``And I think we all understand the importance of these last two games in terms of effort and the product that we put on the field to show that we have made progress and there is hope with the guys that we have in this locker room.''

Buffalo closes the year facing two AFC East rivals and a chance to avoid finishing last in the division for a fifth consecutive season. The Bills travel to play Miami (6-8) on Sunday, followed by a home game against the New York Jets on Dec. 30.

So much for the high expectations the Bills had in opening the season. They've instead been replaced by the familiar frustrations of a franchise that's spent much of the past decade spinning its wheels.

Buffalo's playoff drought is the NFL's longest active streak. And the team is also guaranteed to finish with a losing record for an eighth straight season.

That's not what Bills players and re-energized fans believed was in store following a free-spending offseason in which the team made a big splash three days into free agency by signing defensive end Mario Williams to a six-year, $100 million contract.

Williams' arrival was supposed to improve a defense that had been one of the NFL's leakiest. He has helped to improve the Bills' pass rush, but the defense is still experiencing trouble in other areas.

In giving up 50 points to Seattle, Buffalo became the eighth NFL team to allow 45 points four times in one season, and the first since the New York Jets did that in 1986, according to STATS LLC. The NFL record is five 45-point games, shared by the 1950 Baltimore Colts and 1966 New York Giants.

The Bills have now allowed 402 points this season, which already ranks as the team's fifth-worst total. The franchise low is 454 (1984).

``Just giving up too many big plays, simple as that,'' linebacker Kelvin Sheppard said. ``We didn't get the results that we were expecting or everyone else was expecting. So it is what it is.''

The same holds true for an offense that was supposed to build on last year, when it showed glimpses of a spark during a 6-10 finish.

Fitzpatrick is 65 yards passing short of his third consecutive 3,000-yard season, but he's been inconsistent in having thrown 22 touchdowns versus 15 interceptions. He's also coming off a sloppy outing against the Seahawks in which he threw two interceptions and lost a fumble on three consecutive drives to open the second half.

That's left Fitzpatrick unsure of his status some 14 months since signing a six-year, $59 million contract extension.

``Yeah, that's a great question,'' Fitzpatrick said, when asked if he feels he's done enough to merit another shot at being the starter. ``Unfortunately, the product on the field and the results, especially the win-loss record, isn't where it needs to be. And so, again, I think, the last two games are important.''

Gailey's on the hot seat, even though general manager Buddy Nix insisted last month that the coach's job is safe.

What's missing, though, is an assurance from Ralph Wilson, the Bills owner. Though he's in regular contact with team officials, including Nix and Gailey, Wilson has not spoken publicly since he was briefly hospitalized in late August.

Gailey is focused on preparing for the final two games. And he has no plans to tinker with his lineup, including a change at quarterback. Fitzpatrick will remain the starter even though the team gave up a draft pick to acquire Tarvaris Jackson in a trade with Seattle in August.

Jackson, who is 17-17 as a starter, has been inactive for all 14 games this season.

``The focus is to win,'' Gailey said. ``We're going to put the players on the field that help us win games. That's the responsibility of an organization, and for me in particular.''

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Mercer @ North Carolina: Time, TV Channel, Live stream, how to watch

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Mercer @ North Carolina: Time, TV Channel, Live stream, how to watch

Mercer (4-7) heads to Chapel Hill to take on the Tar Heels (4-6) for an afternoon matchup live on NBC Sports Washington.

How to watch Mercer vs. North Carolina

Who: Mercer vs. North Carolina

When: Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019, 3:30 p.m. ET

Where: Kenan Stadium, Chapel Hill, NC.

TV Channel: NBC Sports Washington

Live Stream: NBC Sports Washington

Weather: 59 degrees, rain.

UNC full 2019 football schedule

Week 1: Sat Aug. 31 vs South Carolina: W 24-20

Week 2: Fri, Sep 13 @ Wake Forest: L 24-18

Week 3: Sat, Sep 21 vs Appalachian State: L 34-31 

Week 4: Sat, Sep 28 vs Clemson: L 21-20 

Week 5: Sat, Oct 5 @ Georgia Tech: W 38-22 

Week 6: Sat, Oct 19 @ Virginia Tech: L 43-41 

Week 7: Sat, Oct 26 vs Duke: W 20-17 

Week 8: Sat, Nov 2 vs Virginia: L 38-31

Week 9: Thu, Nov 14 @ Pittsburgh: L 34-27 OT 

Week 11: Sat, Nov 23 vs Mercer 3:30 PM 

Week 12: Sat, Nov 30 @ NC State 7:00 PM

Hokies sink record 21 3-pointers in win over Delaware State

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Hokies sink record 21 3-pointers in win over Delaware State

BLACKSBURG, Va. -- Virginia Tech head coach Mike Young offered a simple explanation for his team’s record-setting performance Wednesday.

“All coaching,” he said, jokingly. “All coaching."

Nahiem Alleyne scored 20 points and the Hokies hit a school-record 21 3-pointers en route to an easy 100-64 victory over Delaware State on Wednesday.

Alleyne hit 7 of 11 from the floor, including five 3-pointers, and Jalen Cone added 17 points to help the Hokies (5-0) extend their home nonconference winning streak to 28 consecutive games. The freshmen guards led a balanced Virginia Tech attack in which nine players scored – and seven of them hit at least one 3-pointer.

“This offense is built on making 3s, but also they want us to drive more and get to the paint and get to the foul line more,” Alleyne said. ???But if we’re open, we’re going to take it.”

John Crosby led Delaware State (0-5) with 19 points.

The Hornets jumped out to a 7-0 lead, hitting three of their first five shots from the floor. But the Hokies found their shooting stroke and scored the next 11 points, never trailing again. The Hokies hit eight 3-pointers in the first half in grabbing a 45-27 halftime lead, and then they blew the game wide open in the second half, hitting 13 3s and scoring 55 points.

“We have a number of kids that can shoot the ball,” Young said. “I empower them. When the leather hits your hands, let ’er rip. If you’re open and in rhythm, and it’s a practice shot … we have a number of kids that shoot the ball well. I didn’t think we took a bad shot. I thought they were rhythm shots and good shots.”

Virginia Tech also set an ACC record with its 21 3-pointers. The Hokies hit 21 of their 37 3-point attempts, with Alleyne, Cone and Isaiah Wilkins hitting five each. Virginia Tech shot a season-best 56.5% (35 of 62) from the floor.

“They shot the cover off the ball,” Delaware State head coach Eric Skeeters said. “You think you did a good job of guard and rotate and switch and getting out to them, and then ‘Boom! Boom! Boom!’ … They played like an ACC team to their credit.”

TIP-INS

Delaware State: The Hornets could have one of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference's better players in Crosby, who transferred from Dayton and sat out last season. The senior, who has scored in double figures in every game, wasn't intimidated at playing against an ACC opponent and showed an ability to create his own shot. If he continues to play well, he could lead the Hornets to a better finish than many expect. They were picked to finish 10th in the 11-team MEAC.

Virginia Tech: The Hokies finally were able to get Wilkins going after a slow start to the season. Wilkins, one of their more experienced players, was shooting just 34.8% (24 of 69) and had made just two 3-pointers coming into the game, but he scored 15 points in what marked his best outing of the season by far.

HOKIES READY FOR STEP UP

Virginia Tech hasn’t played a Power 5 school since its season-opening win over Clemson, and two of its past four games have been against teams picked in the bottom half of the MEAC (Delaware State and Coppin State). But the young Hokies – with just one senior on the roster – take a serious step up on the competition ladder when they face No. 3 Michigan State on Monday in the first round of the Maui Invitational in Hawaii.

“We go out there with a good basketball team,” Young said. “We’re going to improve. It’ll be a far different scout, a far different prep than what we’re accustomed to. They’re unlike anything that we’ve played to this point, but the time has come. The time has come to play somebody really, really good. It will test everything we have done with them through this point in the season, and I look forward to seeing them compete again.”

UP NEXT

Delaware State: The Hornets play at East Tennessee State on Saturday.

Virginia Tech: The Hokies play No. 3 Michigan State in Hawaii as part of the Maui Invitational on Monday.

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