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Chizik: Still has confidence in Auburn assistants

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Chizik: Still has confidence in Auburn assistants

AUBURN, Ala. (AP) Auburn coach Gene Chizik said he has confidence in his assistants and that he feels ``a very, very high sense of responsibility'' to Tigers fans.

The Tigers (1-6, 0-5 Southeastern Conference) are off to their worst start in 60 years and have the nation's 119th-rated offense.

Chizik said his assistants will be evaluated at season's end, as usual.

``At the end of every year we go back and we evaluate everything that everybody does, just like we've done every year that I've been here,'' he said. ``We've got five games left. Our one focus for the next five weeks is nothing but trying to win a game, and that's it. At the end of every year, just like we do, we go out and evaluate everybody as I get evaluated.''

Auburn is coming off a 17-14 loss at Vanderbilt and hosts No. 22 Texas A&M Saturday to start a four-game home stretch. Chizik was asked how rough the start has been on him.

``I don't ever really think of things for me on a personal level,'' he said. ``I think about everybody around me. I think about the Auburn fans. I think about the players and coaches. I'm the head coach at Auburn, so it's really not about me. It's about everybody else and everybody else's expectations and things of that nature. I don't take that lightly. I feel a very, very high sense of responsibility. This is not where any of us wanted to be, but I also know that the only way you can continue to drive forward and forge forward is keep working at it.

``Our football team fought down to the end again, and they're going to continue to do that, just like the coaches are.''

The troubles have compounded lately. Tight end Philip Lutzenkirchen and right tackle Avery Young, who started the first three games, are out for the season. Defensive tackle Jeff Whitaker also missed the Vandy game in what Chizik described as ``a gametime decision.''

``Hopefully, he can get enough progress made so that he can be back on the field Saturday,'' he said. ``I know he's certainly tried to and looking forward to it.

Tailback Mike Blakely, linebacker Justin Garrett and safeties Erique Florence and Ryan Smith didn't make the trip. Chizik didn't offer details about their status against Texas A&M and he doesn't discuss the nature of injuries.

``We had a handful of guys that did not make the trip because of injury,'' he said. ``Like everybody else, they're rehabbing and getting them to a place where they're healthy.''

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Stanley Cup Final 2018: Who could win the Conn Smythe Trophy?

Stanley Cup Final 2018: Who could win the Conn Smythe Trophy?

The Stanley Cup is not the only trophy that will be awarded at the end of the Stanley Cup Final series between the Washington Capitals and Vegas Golden Knights. The Conn Smythe will also be given to the player deemed the most valuable to his team during the playoffs.

Who will that player be?

It's not hard to figure out who the frontrunner is right now. Marc-Andre Fleury hasn't just been the best goalie in the playoffs, he's been the best player with a dominant postseason in which he has posted a .947 save percentage and four shutouts. He has been so dominant, he could win it even if Vegas loses the series.

See the top contenders for the Conn Smythe heading into the Stanley Cup Final here.

The last player from the losing team to win the Conn Smythe was Jean-Sebastian Giguere from the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in 2003.

But what about the Caps?

Alex Ovechkin is the leader of Washington and has been absolutely dominant throughout the postseason. He even scored the series-clinching goal in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final.

Surprisingly, however, Ovechkin does not lead the team in points through the playoffs. Evgeny Kuznetsov holds that edge with 24 points to Ovechkin's 22.

Will their offensive dominance propel them to win the Cup and the Conn Smythe? Will a different player emerge as the hero of the series?

See the top contenders for the Conn Smythe heading into the Stanley Cup Final here.

MORE CAPITALS PLAYOFF NEWS:

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Need to Know: A closer look at Alex Smith's contract with the Redskins

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Associated Press

Need to Know: A closer look at Alex Smith's contract with the Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, May 26, 17 days before the Washington Redskins start minicamp.  

Note: I am vacationing in the Outer Banks this week. In this space, I’ll be presenting some of the most popular posts of the last few months. I hope you enjoy these “best of” presentations and I’ll see you folks when I get back. 

Contract makes Alex Smith a Redskins for at least three seasons

This post was originally published on March 19. 

When the Redskins traded for Alex Smith on January 30, news also broke that he had agreed to a four-year extension with Washington in addition to the one year left on his contract with the Chiefs. While we got some top-line numbers on the deal, we have gone since then without any details. 

Until now. 

The details show a deal that has a slightly higher cap hit in 2018 than was on his original Chiefs contract and the numbers rise gradually over the life of the deal, which runs through 2022. 

Smith got a $27 million signing bonus and his salaries for 2018 ($13 million) and 2019 ($15 million) also are fully guaranteed at signing making the total $55 million (information via Over the Cap, which got data from a report by Albert Breer). 

But there I another $16 million that is guaranteed for all practical purposes. On the fifth day of the 2019 league year, his 2020 salary of $16 million becomes fully guaranteed. He almost assuredly will get to the point where that money will become guaranteed since the Redskins are not going to cut him after one year having invested $55 million in him. So the total guarantees come to $71 million. 

His 2021 salary is $19 million and it goes up to $21 million in 2022. There have been reports of some incentives available to Smith but since we have no details we’ll set those aside for now. 

The cap hits on the contract are as follows: 

2018: $18.4 million
2019: $20.0 million
2020: $21.4 million
2021: $24.4 million
2022: $26.4 million

The Redskins can realistically move on from Smith after 2020. There would be net cap savings of $13 million in 2021 and $21 million in 2022. 

The first impression of the deal is that the Redskins did not move on from Kirk Cousins because they didn’t want to guarantee a lot of money to a quarterback. The total practical guarantee of $71 million is second only to Cousins’ $82.5 million. It should be noted that Cousins’ deal runs for three years and Smith’s contract is for five. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler