Cougars hope Apple Cup is step forward into 2013


Cougars hope Apple Cup is step forward into 2013

PULLMAN, Wash. (AP) In the midst of his biggest win since returning to coaching, Mike Leach was matter of fact about moving ahead.

``The offseason starts on Monday,'' Leach said minutes after getting swarmed, pushed, grabbed and revered by crimson-and-gray-clad fans storming the field.

At least now, thanks to Washington State pulling off the biggest comeback in the 105 meetings with rival Washington, Leach has a benchmark victory to build on as he tries to put behind him a rocky first season on the Palouse.

The belief before the season was Leach would to do exactly what he did at Texas Tech and immediately bring success to Washington State. But the demands of accountability and work ethic from Leach and his staff led to player dissent, and in the case of former star wide receiver Marquess Wilson, claims of abuse by coaches.

In part because of Leach's past, Wilson's claims led to investigations by both the Pac-12 and Washington State, the results of which are expected to be released soon. And it became one more distraction in a season already rife with them because of the Cougars' inconsistent play.

There was the fourth-quarter meltdown against Colorado; the blowout losses to Utah and Arizona State; the near misses against Stanford and UCLA; and finally the upset of Washington. Throw in the unwanted attention from Wilson's claims and not meeting those outside expectations and it's been a trying year for both Leach and his players, but one that was capped with an unlikely win thanks to an 18-point fourth quarter rally that added another chapter in Apple Cup lore.

``What I think we need to learn from this is some of this is easier than we've been making it,'' Leach said. ``It's really just hanging together and everyone doing their part. Not trying to make too much happen. Everybody do their job, make a routine play and stick in there and do it for 60 minutes.''

Washington State was able to pull off the remarkable comeback thanks to gutty plays by quarterback Jeff Tuel and a defense that was underappreciated at times this season because most of the focus was on an offense that failed to live up to its billing. The Cougars sacked Washington quarterback Keith Price twice and forced him into his worst throw of the day on the first play of overtime.

Logan Mayes, the son of former Washington State star running back Rueben Mayes, got the call to fill in for injured starter Travis Long. On the first play of overtime, Mayes ran a stunt and was able to get his hand on Price, pulling him back toward the ground. Price was able to get off a desperation heave, but it fell into the arms of Cougars defensive tackle Kalafitoni Pole, who nearly ended the game returning it for a touchdown.

The turnover set up the Cougars for Andrew Furney's game-winning 27-yard field goal on their overtime possession that set off a wild celebration.

``I just remember as a kid being so heartbroken when we lost these games,'' Mayes said. ``Right when we one I thought there is some little kid up there who is going to be happy for the next three days because they won the Apple Cup. ... That just felt really good to me.''

The feeling across the state was far different and the collapse left an incomplete taste to the Huskies' regular season that was supposed to be a launching point for 2013.

Washington coach Steve Sarkisian won't be able show progression of regular season improvement from year-to-year. The Huskies won seven games for the second straight season and beat a pair of top 10 teams, but two midseason blowouts versus Oregon and Arizona, combined with a loss to their rival to end the season might overshadow it all.

Washington can still reach eight victories with a bowl victory. But it may not resonate the same way and it could come in a lower-tier bowl thanks to the loss to the Cougars.

``We're lucky we don't play in seven days and we have a little more time to start the healing process and figure out where we're going to play our bowl game,'' Sarkisian said.

While Washington's defense progressed under first-year coordinator Justin Wilcox, there remains concern about Price. For most of the season he looked nothing like the quarterback that was a longshot Heisman candidate before the season began after throwing 33 touchdown passes as a sophomore.

He came around toward the end of the season, but made two costly mistakes in the Apple Cup. Washington had one scoring drive longer than 20 yards and its 269 yards of offense were the lowest of the season, excluding a blowout loss at LSU.

``We just couldn't get in a rhythm and we didn't execute late in the game like we usually do,'' Price said. ``We had a few three-and-outs, we had penalties and we didn't play consistent. That cost us the game.''

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Injuries to Marshall and Perine will open the door for Kapri Bibbs to make the Redskins

Injuries to Marshall and Perine will open the door for Kapri Bibbs to make the Redskins

Following the Redskins' Week 2 preseason win over the Jets on Thursday, Jay Gruden said both Byron Marshall and Samaje Perine were "OK" after the two running backs each left the game with injuries. Marshall's was labeled a lower-leg issue, while Perine's injury was called a twisted ankle.

Timetables for their recoveries were then reported on Friday, and while the two members of the backfield escaped anything too severe, they will each be sidelined for decent chunks of time.

Perine will miss a week, according to Mike Garafolo. Marshall, meanwhile, is looking at a longer two-to-four week recovery, per Tom Pelissero. Those pieces of news hurt them in more ways than one.

Derrius Guice's torn ACL in Week 1 of the team's exhibition schedule meant that Marshall and Perine both had a big-time opportunity to step up and earn a spot on Washington's 53-man roster, spots that were harder to envision for them when Guice was healthy.

Overall, the two were slated to compete with Kapri Bibbs for what will likely be two spaces on the depth chart behind the absolutely safe Chris Thompson and Rob Kelley. Now, though, they'll be forced to sit until they're healed up, giving Bibbs more chances in practice and the two remaining August contests to earn Jay Gruden's trust.

Against New York, Bibbs struggled on the ground but led the offense with seven grabs, including a 29-yard gain off a screen play. That performance absolutely brought him closer in the race with Marshall, who scored vs. the Patriots a week earlier. Next, he'll need to prove he can run effectively between the tackles vs. the Broncos in Week 3, which will put some heat on Perine as well.

The 'Skins have 15 days left until they have to finalize their regular season roster. As things stand now amongst the running backs, Bibbs presently has a real shot at stealing a job from the two shelved RBs. But with the way this race has unfolded thus far, that can all change in a split second. 


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Familiarity for coach and GM should allow Capital City Go-Go to hit ground running

Associated Press

Familiarity for coach and GM should allow Capital City Go-Go to hit ground running

Despite being a brand new franchise with a new roster and new facilities, the Capital City Go-Go will carry into their inaugural season a level of continuity. Both their general manager and head coach are familiar with what they are getting into and the people they will be working with.

GM Pops Mensah-Bonsu is no stranger to the D.C. community and the Wizards franchise. He made a name for himself starring at George Washington University, spent time with the Wizards as a player in their 2013 training camp and remained a frequent visitor to Wizards games as a scout for the Spurs in recent years.

"To be back in the community and the first general manager of the G-League team is special," Mensah-Bonsu said. "This is D.C.’s team. I want them to embrace us."

Head coach Jarell Christian played college ball in Virginia and goes back several years with Wizards coach Scott Brooks. Christian joined the Oklahoma City's G-League staff when Brooks was in his final year as head coach of the Thunder.

Christian began his coaching journey with an eye trained on how Brooks goes about his job.

"My introduction to pro basketball was under Coach Brooks and his philosophies. A lot of that stuff, I believe in wholeheartedly. That’s my foundation," Christian said. "I got a chance to know him through training camp and throughout that season. He and I developed a bond and a relationship that stood the test of time. To this day, we still talk often. It’s just another chance for me to reconnect with him and to continue to grow our relationship."

The Go-Go intend to make what they do as similar to the Wizards as possible. When guys like Devin Robinson, one of their two-way players, is called up he can step right in without a learning curve of the playbook or how they practice.

Having Christian in place will help that process in particular.

"There won’t be any issue or any slippage with guys going up and down to know what’s in store for them," Christian said. "A lot of the stuff that the Wizards will do, we will implement with the Go-Go. Just some offensive and defensive concepts. Some of the playcalls and the terminology will be the same."

"Whatever you see the Wizards doing, you will probably see the Capital City Go-Go doing, too," Mensah-Bonsu said.

The symmetry between the G-League and the NBA teams will also be helped by the fact they will share the same practice facility. Their proximity will come with many advantages from the Go-Go perspective.

"I think it’s going to help motivate these guys. We’re going to be practicing in the same place that the Wizards do and the Mystics do," Mensah-Bonsu said. "I think if these guys can see Dwight Howard and John Wall and Bradley Beal walking around every day, it will help motivate them to get to that next level."

"The exposure our players get with the Wizards [front office], the Wizards personnel, being able to watch them practice daily, watching their practice habits and what their routines may be, is really big," Christian said.

That element will also apply beyond the players. Christian, who is just 32 years old, will get to watch how an NBA coaching staff operates on a daily basis.

Christian has yet to take a tour of the new building in Ward 8, but he has seen blueprints. Among the amenities the Go-Go will enjoy that other G-League teams do not usually have is a dedicated dining area.

Many G-League teams do not go to that length.

"A lot of organizations do not provide food for their players on a daily basis, but we will. That’s the No. 1 thing in my opinion that’s gonna set us apart from our competitors," he said.

The Go-Go won't take the floor for their first game until November, but it seems like a good foundation is starting to take place.

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