Redskins

Broncos defense ranks among the best in takeaways

Broncos defense ranks among the best in takeaways

BOISE, Idaho (AP) The Boise State defense is quickly learning that taking is better than giving.

After five games, the No. 24 Broncos have gotten so good that the defense ranks among the best in the nation in creating turnovers, averaging nearly one takeaway per quarter.

So far, the young defense's knack for stripping balls and picking off opposing quarterbacks is a big reason a rebuilding Boise State (4-1, 1-0 Mountain West) is back in the AP Top 25.

Saturday's 41-14 victory at Southern Miss was a prime example. The defense picked off two passes in the first half, giving the offense a short field en route to a 24-0 lead at the half. The defense also recovered three fumbles to help preserve the win.

Coach Chris Petersen was at a loss Saturday to explain his team's thieving ways. But defensive lineman Darren Koontz attributed Boise State's 17 takeaways - tied for second best nationally with Oregon and UCLA - to a mindset that makes stripping, punching and jarring the football out of a ball carrier's arms an essential part of tackling.

``We've always paid attention to the turnover battle ... just because it's a big statistic in the outcome of a game.'' Koontz said. ``Getting a turnover just gets everyone pumped up and gets the offense out there in a good mood. It can change the game so much, change the energy of the game.''

All season long the Broncos defense has specialized in bolstering the mood of the offense. Against Michigan State and in a 7-6 victory over BYU, the interceptions returned for touchdowns offset an offense struggling to move the chains and score consistently. The defense notched five takeaways against Michigan State, five more against BYU, and two weeks ago three recovered fumbles helped stake Boise State to a 25-0 halftime lead at New Mexico.

``We know the defense has our backs,'' said offensive tackle Charles Leno. ``But they have always been a big part of our game.''

The Broncos are poised to meet their match when it comes to takeaways Saturday.

Conference rival Fresno State comes to Boise ranked tops in the nation in the turnover battle. The Bulldogs (4-2, 2-0 Mountain West) lead the nation with 18 takeaways - six fumbles and 12 interceptions in six games.

Boise State, which has also excelled at taking care of the ball on offense, is actually better than the Bulldogs in the turnover margin.

The Boise State offense and special teams suffered a blow in the Southern Miss win when receiver Mitch Burroughs went down with a wrist injury.

Burroughs has 12 catches on the season, third best on the team. But the senior is also one of Petersen's trusted punt and kick returners. Petersen said Burroughs will undergo tests Monday and said it's likely he'll be out for a while.

``We just miss him as an all-around player,'' Petersen said. He's ``a senior who is all about the team, who does everything right on and off the field, who just wants to play and do whatever he can do and you really trust him because he knows our stuff inside and out.''

Burroughs' return duties will likely be handled by Chris Potter, who has shared that role with Burroughs in the past.

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NFL owners unanimously approve new national anthem policy

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USA TODAY Sports

NFL owners unanimously approve new national anthem policy

NFL owners have unanimously approved a new national anthem policy that allows players to remain in the locker room if they prefer but requires players to stand if they are on the field during the performance.

This new policy subjects teams, but not players, to fines if any team personnel do not show appropriate respect for the anthem. 

Teams will also have the option to fine any team personnel, including players, for the infraction separately though. 

The NFL Players Association released it's own statement after the news was made official.

 

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In a surprise twist, Barry Trotz takes The Hot Lap ahead of Game 7

In a surprise twist, Barry Trotz takes The Hot Lap ahead of Game 7

TAMPA—Head Coach Barry Trotz skated the hot lap prior to Wednesday’s Game 7 at Amalie Arena, taking over the superstitious tradition from captain Alex Ovechkin.

Why the change?

The Caps lost Game 5 here on Saturday. And when the Caps lose on the road—the only place where the morning-skate-starting hot lap takes place—a new skater is selected.

The weird tradition began in the first round at Nationwide Arena in Columbus when Jay Beagle grew tired of waiting for the ice to freeze over following a fresh Zamboni cut. Beagle's teammates implored him to wait a little longer for the ice to cure, but he grew impatient and took it upon himself to kick off the skate by racing around the rink, a la the fastest skater competition at the All Star Skills competition.

Ovechkin took it over prior to Game 6 in Pittsburgh because the Caps had lost Game 4 at PPG Paints Arena.

Ovechkin proudly carried on the tradition as Washington won three in a row—Game 6 in Pittsburgh and Games 1 and 2 of this series vs. Tampa Bay.

Following the Caps’ 3-2 defeat in Game 5 here, though, it was expected that a change would be made.

And on Wednesday morning the baton changed hands, with the least obvious of all the Caps busting his 55-year-old hump around the rink much to the delight of his players and assistants.

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