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Gators don't want Gamecocks celebrating in Swamp

Gators don't want Gamecocks celebrating in Swamp

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) The last time South Carolina played at Florida, the Gamecocks celebrated a division title.

Coach Steve Spurrier got doused and carried to midfield. Players hooted and hollered on the sideline, in the locker room and on the flight home.

The Gators remember it vividly.

``That's a feeling you'll never forget,'' safety Josh Evans said.

No doubt, third-ranked Florida (6-0, 5-0 Southeastern Conference) will use that 36-14 loss as motivation when the ninth-ranked Gamecocks (6-1, 4-1) return to The Swamp on Saturday.

``It's definitely revenge,'' Evans said. ``It would mean a lot to this team and definitely the roll we're on this year trying to stay undefeated.''

No titles are on the line in this one, but the winner will take command in the Eastern Division. Making it to Atlanta for the SEC championship game is the top goal for both teams, and Saturday's loser will need help getting there.

``We realize it's an extremely important game down there in The Swamp,'' Spurrier said. ``Hopefully our guys will be ready to play their best one of the year.''

South Carolina is coming off its worst game of the season.

Marcus Lattimore was held to 35 yards rushing, Connor Shaw threw two interceptions and the Gamecocks allowed 258 yards rushing in a 23-21 loss at LSU. The Tigers outgained South Carolina 406-211, recorded four sacks and converted 11 of 19 times on third down.

``It was just frustrating,'' South Carolina linebacker DeVonte Holloman said. ``Some plays, we were at the point of attack and did not make those plays that we've been making all year. I felt like we kind of took a punch and we didn't give one back sometimes. Being more physical, that's what we're working on.''

Being healthier might help, too.

Lattimore, who ran 40 times for a career-high 212 yards and three touchdowns two years ago in Gainesville, has a bruised hip that kept him out of practice this week and will keep him out of the starting lineup Saturday. Standout defensive end Jadeveon Clowney has a foot problem that has limited him in practice. Defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles won't play because of a shoulder injury, and defensive linemen Byron Jerideau and J.T. Surratt have been slowed by sprained ankles.

And a flu bug has worked its way through the team, affecting receivers Ace Sanders and Bruce Ellington.

Florida, meanwhile, is getting several players back in time for the stretch run.

Defensive end Dominique Easley (knee) and linebacker Jelani Jenkins (hamstring) are expected to return to the starting lineup Saturday. So are left tackle Xavier Nixon (upper body), guard James Wilson (eye) and center Jon Harrison (elbow).

Florida's offensive line has been key to the team's ground attack.

Senior Mike Gillislee is averaging a little more than 102 yards rushing a game. Two weeks ago against LSU, he ran 34 times for 146 yards and two touchdowns.

Quarterback Jeff Driskel is averaging 54 yards a game on the ground and has scored four times. Last week at Vanderbilt, Driskel set a school record for rushing by a quarterback with 177 yards. He had touchdown runs of 13, 37 and 70 yards.

``If we can get the run stopped and make them one-dimensional, we'll do very good,'' South Carolina linebacker Shaq Wilson said.

The Gators have the same game plan, even if it's backup Kenny Miles carrying the ball instead of Lattimore.

Without Lattimore last season, the Gamecocks ran for 215 yards in a 17-12 win against Florida.

Brandon Wilds had 120 yards rushing, and Shaw added 88 yards and two scores on the ground.

``Shaw is just a winner, a guy that creates plays with his legs, does a lot of good things for their football team,'' Florida coach Will Muschamp said. ``The play is never dead with him. He can create so much with his legs and he's a tough, hard-nosed, competitive guy, a guy you enjoy competing against because of the way he plays the game.''

South Carolina and Georgia were popular, preseason picks to win the East. Florida has been much more of a surprise in Muschamp's second season.

The Gators have shown toughness, resiliency and a willingness to do whatever it takes to win games. They already avenged a 30-point loss to LSU and would like nothing more than to check the Gamecocks off the list next - even if few players are willing to openly admit it.

``Really, to tell you the truth, it's just another game for us,'' Florida linebacker Jon Bostic said. ``It's another SEC opponent. We've got to play well to win this game. We can't really look over them or look at this game any different than any other game.''

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Wizards Tipoff podcast: Pre-draft workouts begin; Michigan's Moe Wagner goes 1-on-1

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USA Today Sports Images

Wizards Tipoff podcast: Pre-draft workouts begin; Michigan's Moe Wagner goes 1-on-1

On the latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast presented by Greenberg and Bederman, Chris Miller caught up with Michigan star Moe Wagner after his workout with the Wizards.

Chris and Chase Hughes also gave their impressions of the first prospects to come in for pre-draft workouts, including which guys are most likely to be Wizards. One of those prospects is a point guard and a likely first round pick. Chase and Chris explain why that's not a crazy idea, even considering the presence of John Wall on their roster.

You can listen to the episode right here:

You can download the podcast on Apple Podcasts right here and on Google Play. If you like the show please tell your friends!

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Redskins still absorbing rule changes involving kickoffs, contact with helmet

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Associated Press

Redskins still absorbing rule changes involving kickoffs, contact with helmet

The NFL has passed two major on-field rule changes in the last two months. One, the rule that prohibits players from lowering their helmets to initiate contact with another player. That one passed during the spring meetings in March but it was just recently clarified. The other one changes how kickoffs are executed. 

Both rules, designed to make the game safer for the players, could have a major impact on the game. And the Redskins are still a little unclear about how to handle them. 

Safety D.J. Swearinger is one of the Redskins’ hardest hitters. After saying that the helmet-lowering rule, which is outlined in some detail in this video from the NFL, would not affect him because he hits low, he wondered why he was even wearing a hard hat at work. 

“I’ve got a helmet on, but I can’t use it or hit nobody with it, might as well take the helmet off if you ask me,” said Swearinger following the Redskins’ OTA practice on Wednesday.

As of Wednesday afternoon, coach Jay Gruden had not yet been filled in on the details of the helmet-lowering rule. He said that the team will sort it out over the three and a half months between now and the start of the regular season. 

“The lowering of the helmet, I don’t know which ones they decided to go with, so we’ll see,” he said. “I know there’s been a lot of talk about bull rushes and they’re trying to obviously protect the players, but we’ve just got to be careful.”

Gruden said that special teams coach Ben Kotwica went to meetings to help hash out the kickoff rule. What they ended up with looks a lot like another special teams play according to the player who will be executing the kickoffs. 

“It looks like they’re trying to make it more like a punt,” said kicker Dustin Hopkins. Among the similarities are that the kicking team will not be able to get a running start as the kicker approaches the ball. They will have to be stationary a yard away from the line where the ball is until it is kicked. 

The league probably will be happy if the play does more closely resemble a punt. The injury rate on punt plays is much lower than it is on kickoffs. 

Some believe that this change will lead to longer kickoff returns. Gruden didn’t disagree, but he said that he needs more information. 

“I think without the guys getting a running start, number one, it could be,” he said. “I think it’s just something I have to see it before I can really make any judgments on it.”

The new rule prohibits wedge blocking meaning that you are unlikely to see any offensive linemen on kickoffs as they were used primarily to create or break wedges. 

“I think for the most part, you’re going to see more speed guys,” said Gruden.

The Redskins will start to wrap their heads around the new rule during the next three weeks, when they have their final two weeks of OTAs and then minicamp before the break for training camp. Gruden said that they will continue to work on it in Richmond. He said that the joint practices with the Jets and the four preseason game will be important for sorting out just how the team will implement kickoffs. 

The best way to handle it might be to just let Hopkins pound the ball into the end zone every time. Last year 72.5 percent of his kickoffs went for touchbacks. He could have had more touchbacks, but he occasionally was told to kick it high to force a return with the hope of getting better field position. But if the rules lead to longer returns it may not be worth the risk. 

More 2018 Redskins

- 53-man roster: Player one-liners, offense
- Tandler’s Take: Best- and worst-case scenarios for 2018
- OTAs: Practice report: Smith sharp
- Injuries: Kouandjio out for the season

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