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Colorado on doorstep of infamy before Utah game

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Colorado on doorstep of infamy before Utah game

BOULDER, Colo. (AP) The Colorado Buffaloes are counting on the past repeating itself so they can avoid ending up on the wrong side of history.

To avoid the worst record since the program's inception in 1890, the Buffs will have to upset Utah, which was installed as a three-touchdown favorite Friday at Folsom Field.

The Utes were also a 21-point favorite a year ago when the Buffaloes ended their division title hopes with a 17-14 win at Salt Lake City to end a school-record 23-game road losing streak.

``We had nothing to lose,'' senior defensive end Will Pericak said.

And this time, they have infamy to avoid.

If the Utes (4-7, 2-6 Pac-12) win, the Buffaloes (1-10, 1-7) will go winless at home for the first time since 1920.

``We can't be the only team to lose every game at home. I don't think anybody wants that so we're all pretty motivated,'' senior tight end Nick Kasa said. ``We know that they're still motivated from last year, probably pretty angry about that. This is our rivalry game; we just have to win it.''

The Buffaloes have been outscored by an average of 46-16, and they've lost seven straight since their lone win, 35-34 at Washington State. During that streak, they've allowed an average of more than 50 points.

Last week, they hit a new low when a miscommunication from the sideline led to the Buffs running a quarterback sneak on first down that gained about a foot.

All this losing has gotten to the Buffs, who started the season with hopes of a bowl bid before losses to archrival Colorado State and lower-tier Sacramento State were followed by a 55-point defeat at Fresno State.

``Yeah, it's really embarrassing,'' junior defensive back Terrell Smith said. ``It stinks to be categorized as the worst team, but there is nothing that we can do.''

Except win.

``It would be tough'' to go down as the first 11-loss team in school history, Pericak said.

``That would not be something we want,'' he said. ``It's horrible to think about. I know for a fact that we're getting better, so I don't want to think about that really.''

If they're getting better, it sure isn't showing up on game day.

The Utes, coming off a 34-24 loss to Arizona at home last week, are also wrapping up a disappointing season.

``We wanted to have the seniors go out of their home stadium on a positive note. We didn't get that done. We got one more opportunity to send them out on a positive note,'' Utes coach Kyle Whittingham said.

The Buffaloes, though, are motivated by avoiding infamy.

``What I've been telling the guys is I don't even want you to play for me or just play for the seniors,'' said Kasa, one of just eight seniors on the Buffaloes roster. ``Play for yourselves. Because we can't be that team that never won at home. That's just embarrassing to me and to this team. And I think everybody knows that. We're going to go out and get this win.''

The Utes have also had a tough transition to the Pac-12 after leaving the Mountain West Conference last year, though not as difficult a road as Colorado has had since bolting the Big 12, igniting the wave of conference realignment.

``The league is much better this year than it was last year, across the board,'' Whittingham said. ``I can't speak for Colorado, but for us the league is elevated. There's no doubt about that. We're still working hard to get to the level we need to be at.''

The Utes will gain a measure of satisfaction, though, if they can win at Boulder, where the Buffaloes have lost conference games by 28, 34, 48 and 35 points.

``Colorado in the past has been a big program just like us,'' Utah wide receiver Kenneth Scott said. ``They feel like they should be one of the top programs just like we feel that. But going into this game we have a chip on our shoulder knowing we should be winning, but we are making those little mistakes. ... Especially coming off last year, the way they beat us, that revenge is going to be really nice.''

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AP Sports Writer Lynn DeBruin contributed.

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Follow AP Pro Football Writer Arnie Melendrez Stapleton on Twitter:http://twitter.com/arniestapleton

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2019 NBA Draft prospect profile: Jaxson Hayes

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2019 NBA Draft prospect profile: Jaxson Hayes

The Washington Wizards will have the ninth overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. Here is the latest in our series on draft prospects who could fall around where the Wizards will select...

2019 NBA Draft Wizards Prospect Preview: Jaxson Hayes

School: Texas
Position: Center
Age: 19
Height: 7-0
Weight: 219
Wingspan: 7-4
Max vertical: 34.5 in.

2018/19 stats: 10.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 0.3 apg, 0.6 spg, 2.2 bpg, 72.8 FG% (3.8/5.3), 00.0 3PT% (0.0/0.0), 74.0 FT%

Player comparison: Jarrett Allen, John Henson

Projections: NBC Sports Washington 10th, NBADraft.net 9th, Bleacher Report 10th, Sports Illustrated 9th, Ringer 10th

5 things to know:

*Hayes is considered the best center prospect in this year's class. He is athletic, plays with energy and measured in at the combine at about 7-feet in shoes with a 7-foot-4 wingspan. He can run the floor and play above the rim.

*The skill that stands out most for Hayes is rim protection. He averaged 2.2 blocks in only 23.3 minutes per game. That extrapulates to 5.7 blocks over 100 possessions. He has long arms and appears to have good instincts tracking the ball in the lane. He is following in the footsteps of fellow Texas shot-blockers before him like Myles Turner and Jarrett Allen. The latter may be the best player comparison for Hayes in today's NBA.

*Hayes is not considered a very good rebounder. He averaged 5.0 per game and only once reached double figures. It could be that he just needs to add some weight, an issue that is correctable but would hurt him even more at the NBA level initially. The worst-case concern is that he is soft and won't do the necessary dirty work.

*At this point, Hayes offers nothing in the way of an outside shot. He didn't attempt a single three-pointer in college and didn't do much on offense outside of dunks and putbacks. In order to justify being taken with a high draft pick, he will either need to develop a post game, an outside shot or be extremely good on defense. His lack of an all-round game will certainly give some teams pause in evaluating him.

*Hayes comes from a family of impressive athletes. His father played 12 seasons in the NFL and recently served as the tight ends coach for the Cincinnati Bengals. His mother played basketball at Drake University and later coached in college, including a stint as an assistant at Oklahoma. Hayes followed his father's footsteps by playing wide receiver in high school before a growth spurt made it clear basketball was the path to go.

Fit with Wizards: Hayes is one of the best fits for the Wizards among the players who could be available with the ninth pick. He does what they arguably lack the most, which is play defense and more specifically protect the rim.

The Wizards allowed the most field goals within five feet of any team this past season and the third-highest field goal percentage in that range. They desperately need someone who can block and alter shots.

Hayes would likely be the Wizards' best shot-blocker Day 1. But whether he can help them in other ways is a question at this point.

Hayes would represent a bit of a project for the Wizards and may not have All-Star potential because of his offensive limitations. Still, he remains one of their best options in the first round. Long-term, he could transform their defense and form a strong pick-and-roll partner for John Wall.

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Watching Dwayne Haskins and Case Keenum, one quarterback definitely stands out

Watching Dwayne Haskins and Case Keenum, one quarterback definitely stands out

The Redskins might be just in the beginning of a quarterback battle, but at Monday's OTA session, it seemed pretty clear which player would eventually win. 

Dwayne Haskins made a number of impressive throws while he was on the field, and while Case Keenum had his share of good passes too, the rookie shined. Even on the surface: Haskins looks the part of a franchise quarterback, standing 6-foot-3 and 230 lbs. Keenum is listed at 6-foot-1 and 215 lbs, but that seems fairly generous. 

When Haskins throws the ball, it zips through the air. He can go deep and has touch on his underneath routes. Keenum gets the ball where it needs to be, but there's a difference in velocity. 

Let's be crystal clear, however, that one OTA session in May will not determine the starting quarterback job. While Keenum and Haskins are both learning the Redskins offense, Keenum has proved he can stand in the pocket of an NFL game and make plays. Haskins has never seen the size or speed of NFL defensive linemen. 

"It’s a long process and I think they both handled it well today," Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said. "Hopefully we’ll do better tomorrow and the next day and so on and so forth and I’m sure it will be a good, lengthy competition with some great players going at it."

A few, unexpected things stood out with Haskins.

Though he has a long windup on his throws, the ball gets out plenty fast. He also seemed quicker in the pocket than some of his NFL Scouting Combine numbers would suggest. Haskins certainly isn't fast, but he's not a plodder either. That said, Keenum does seem to have the advantage in squirting through the line of scrimmage and keeping plays alive. That's something Gruden really likes in his passers.

Both of the QBs seemed comfortable with their role in the competition. 

"It’s normal. I compete every day whether I’m playing football, playing ping pong, playing golf, I’m competing. I’m competing against myself. I’m competing against the defense. In the quarterback room, we’re always competing," Keenum said. "Competition makes you better and that’s what the spring is about."

Haskins sounded very tactful in his responses; respectful of the veterans already on the team in Keenum and Colt McCoy, yet also eager to get more work.

"I want to be with the best, be around the best, and compete with the best. All season I’ll be around working out with the best quarterbacks on my team," the rookie said. 

Planned or not, Haskins also seemed modest in his goals for the OTA session. 

"I didn’t have any expectations for today, I just wanted to execute. The biggest thing for me was going to play right in the huddle."

That stands out in stark contrast to the Redskins last first-round rookie passer, Robert Griffin III. Expectations for RG3 were out of control, almost immediately, and while parts of his rookie season actually lived up to the hype, that situation was not healthy or sustainable. It's smart for Haskins to set reasonable goals at this stage of his career. Calling plays correctly in the huddle will get him on the field more, and that will give him more chances to make big plays.

It's a learning process, and at OTAs, Haskins showed a willingness to start on the ground floor. In a world of egos and branding, that's a sage move. 

While McCoy was not present on the field at OTAs, he is in Ashburn. He will be a part of this competition, but he needs to get healthy soon. Gruden didn't provide much of an update when asked about McCoy, though the coach did say the quarterback should be back on the field for training camp.

McCoy knows the Redskins offense backward and forward, but without him on the field, Keenum and Haskins are learning the Redskins plays at the same time. And that means while Gruden is looking at a rookie and a veteran, neither player has much of a leg up on his playbook. 

"I think we have to grade them based on production out here every day. Every day is a new grade, every day you see how they’re developing, see how they’re getting better, see if they’re making the same mistakes over and over. But it’s a process, this is the first time Dwyane has had a chance to call plays in a live huddle and go after a live defense and this is the first time Case has had a chance to do that with the Redskins terminology. So, we don’t expect perfection on the day one, but we do expect the guys to know what they’re doing when we go out to the practice field, execute and then continue to get better each and every day."

Get better each day. Compete. That's the cornerstone of success in the NFL, and for the Redskins, how QB1 will find his spot.

"Somebody is going to rise I would think," the coach said. "The cream always rises to the top and we’re hoping that’s the case.”

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