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Chizik says he's confident he can revive Auburn

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Chizik says he's confident he can revive Auburn

AUBURN, Ala. (AP) Auburn coach Gene Chizik said he feels confident he can turn the football program around.

The Tigers have slipped from a national title team two years ago to a miserable season. They're a longshot to pick up a win in the Southeastern Conference after Saturday night's 38-0 shellacking by No. 5 Georgia.

Auburn (2-8, 0-7 SEC) has been outscored 101-21 in its last two SEC games with a trip to No. 4 Alabama looming in two weeks after a game against FCS Alabama A&M.

What has gone wrong with the Tigers, who were 14-0 two years ago during Cam Newton's Heisman Trophy run?

``That's a little bit of a trap question for me, because anything that I'm going to say is going to sound like an excuse and I don't make excuses,'' Chizik said Sunday. ``So we have a lot of things that responsibility-wise we have to claim as coaches. We've got times when we could have played better on the field when we were in position to make plays. It's a team game. You win with it and you lose with it, and we've won with it.

``I still think it really prompts you to really go back and start all over and re-evaluate. That's what we would in terms of starting over again with everything that we've done, every decision we've made and move forward.''

Asked if that means he's confident he can turn the program around, Chizik responded: ``That's very accurate.''

But Chizik wouldn't talk about whether he'll even get that chance. He declined to directly answer questions about his job security.

The Bulldogs scored touchdowns on their first four possessions, then coach Mark Richt reined in the offense. They attempted only four passes in the second half.

Freshman quarterback Jonathan Wallace and receiver Emory Blake were two bright spots. Wallace completed 15 of 22 passes for 181 yards with an interception on an overthrow, and 104 of those yards came on hookups with Blake.

Auburn has had a number of injury problems, losing tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen and right tackle Avery Young for the season.

University President Jay Gogue has issued a statement saying he would evaluate the football program after the season.

Chizik, who would be owed a $7.5 million buyout as of Dec. 1 if he gets fired, is talking about next season, not next month.

``I think you got to look under the hood of the car and you've got to figure out where the problems are under the hood and that's going to become a very extensive evaluation starting with a lot of different areas,'' he said. ``I think that from there you can make very informed decisions on where you need to go with the next season and starting in January.''

First-year defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder raised questions after the Georgia game about the makeup of the defense he inherited.

``Our defense is not built with size, strength and power right now,'' VanGorder said. ``I think that becomes obvious against teams like Georgia.''

Chizik didn't disagree with that assessment. The offense has been even worse, but the Tigers are ranked 90th nationally in total defense.

``I don't really know how I interpret that,'' Chizik said of VanGorder's comments.

``We can always be bigger. We can always be stronger. But ... I think we've got guys at certain positions that we can certainly, and need to, upgrade. There's no question.''

``I think that there's obviously some positions that we feel like we need to upgrade in terms of productivity.''

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Capitals stars react to losing Barry Trotz as head coach

Capitals stars react to losing Barry Trotz as head coach

LAS VEGAS—Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom weren’t expecting to lose their head coach less than two weeks after winning the Stanley Cup.

But business is business, Ovi said, and Barry Trotz is handling his by attempting to capitalize on claiming the championship.

“It’s sad,” Ovechkin said on the red carpet at the NHL Awards, where he accepted his seventh Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy on Wednesday night. “Obviously, we won together.”

The Caps’ captain also thanked Trotz for directing him—and his teammates—to new heights.  

“First of all, [I want to] thank him for a great job to be our coach, to be our dad, to give us a chance to win,” Ovechkin said. “But then again, it’s a business. You never know what’s going to happen. I’m pretty sure he’s going to be fine and I wish him luck.”

Backstrom, meanwhile, said he was caught off guard by Trotz’s decision to step down over a contract stalemate with the team. Trotz asked for $5 million per for five seasons; the Caps balked over the terms Trotz’s camp sought.   

“I was a little surprised, obviously,” Backstrom said. “I heard the scenario.”

Like Ovechkin, though, Backstrom praised the job Trotz did during his four-year tenure.

“He’s done a great job in Washington,” Backstrom said. “We obviously have him to thank for a lot. He’s done a tremendous job of schooling us and winning a championship. No one is going to take that away from him.”

Trotz’s next move is unclear, but he’s a free agent and currently eligible to negotiate with any team. The Islanders are the only team with an opening for a head coach.

As for Washington, GM Brian MacLellan said that associate coach Todd Reirden will get the first crack at replacing Trotz.

Ovechkin said he thinks Reirden would be a good fit.

“We all respect Todd,” Ovechkin said. “We all like him. Again, it’s not our thing to say who’s going to be head coach, but if it’s going to be Todd, it’s going to be fun.”

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A drawing of the moment Ovi lifted the Stanley Cup makes the moment joyful all over again

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Daniel Duffy on Twitter/@RealArtOfWords

A drawing of the moment Ovi lifted the Stanley Cup makes the moment joyful all over again

How do you make a photo of Alex Ovechkin hoisting the Stanley Cup for the first time even more memorable?

You make it out of all the Capitals' game scores this year, of course.

Capitals fan and artist Daniel Duffy (@RealArtOfWords) posted a phenomenal finished piece commemorating the Cup win on Wednesday, June 20. It's a little meta and astounding to look at, but very fun to try and read. If you want to relive the glory that was the parts of the 2017-18 Capitals season, check out the piece.

The piece, which appears to be done in a traditional medium like pen or marker, holds the team faced, arena played at, and final score of every game. It uses six colors and over sixty lines of text. Ovechkin roars as he holds the Stanley Cup overhead, the white away jersey shaded with bits of grey text. It takes a skilled eye to sort text and colors into shapes and shading, but Daniel did a fantastic job! It's awesome to see a fanbase create different interpretations of iconic moments. We'll surely see more of Ovechkin in this moment.

Just as we thought we were going to get tired of the celebration, fans find new ways to surprise us. Stay creative, Caps fans!

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