Nationals

Geno Smith and West Virginia roll into Texas

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Geno Smith and West Virginia roll into Texas

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) The last time Texas faced a leading Heisman Trophy contender, coach Mack Brown told his defense ``Don't let him win it against you.''

How'd that work out? Baylor's Robert Griffin III passed for two touchdowns, ran for two more and one week later accepted the trophy in New York.

``They handed it to him at halftime,'' Brown said.

Ten months and a new season later, here comes West Virginia's Geno Smith, the nation's top-rated passer and the guy everyone is comparing to Griffin after his eight TD passes and 656 yards against Baylor last week. The No. 8 Mountaineers (4-0, 1-0 Big 12) and No. 11 Longhorns (4-0, 1-0) play Saturday night.

For West Virginia, a road win in front of about 100,000 Texas fans and a national television audience would not only solidify Smith as the mid-season Heisman favorite, but also send a statement that the Mountaineers have every intention of winning the Big 12 their first year in the league.

``The crowd's going to be rocking,'' Smith said. ``We still have a long way to go and a lot of work to do.''

It will be the first trip to Texas for most of the Mountaineers players, but not for coach Dana Holgorsen, who was an assistant at Texas Tech and Oklahoma State before going to Morgantown. He's talked to his team about what to expect: the crowd, the girls and Texas' famous Bevo steer mascot.

``I'm looking forward to it,'' Holgorsen said. ``There will be a lot of people, cheerleaders and (the) longhorn in the end zone.''

So call it the perfect stage for another national statement by Smith, who has been picking apart defenses with a staggering 83 percent completion rate, 20 touchdowns and no interceptions.

``Amazing,'' Texas cornerback Carrington Byndom said.

The challenge for Texas isn't how to stop the West Virginia offense - ``You're not going to stop them,'' Brown said - but how to make the plays that keep the Mountaineers out of the end zone and make the difference at the end.

Force a punt. Recover a fumble. Make an interception.

``This isn't going to be a shutdown game,'' Brown said. ``The guy just scored 70 points. I mean, unbelievable.''

Brown has to ask a lot from a defense playing well below preseason expectations. The Longhorns gave up 576 yards to Oklahoma State and have a bad habit of surrendering long touchdowns. But the Longhorns also have made big plays at critical moments.

In last week's win over Oklahoma State, an interception set up a Texas touchdown. A defensive stand late in the fourth quarter forced the Cowboys to kick a field goal, and that gave Texas the opportunity to win it with a touchdown.

Despite the lapses, Texas still has playmakers galore on defense, starting with ends Jackson Jeffcoat and Alex Okafor, who have combined for seven sacks.

It will be their job to disrupt Smith and force him to throw quickly or on the run. Texas believes Smith's internal clock may be a bit slow after not facing much pressure in the first four games, especially last week against Baylor.

``We still have some swagger,'' Byndom said. ``We know what kind of defense we can play.''

Texas is also counting on its offense to slow down Smith by keeping him off the field. Unlike Baylor, which tried to match Smith pass for pass in last week's 70-63 shootout, the Longhorns are built around a ball-control running game and play-action passes. If Texas can grab a second-half lead, the Longhorns will try to kill the clock behind battering ram tailback Joe Bergeron.

Longhorns quarterback David Ash has been quietly excellent through the first four games. Ash ranks No. 2 nationally in pass efficiency (behind Smith, of course) and led Texas' game-winning touchdown drive last week in the final two minutes.

After going 13-12 the last two seasons with a 2-6 record at home in the Big 12, the Longhorns can make their own statement with a victory: that Texas is indeed fighting its way back into the nation's elite programs.

``It's been a while since we've gotten the opportunity to be in this situation,'' Ash said. ``It's taken a lot of hard work. We don't need to forget that.''

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Nationals Roundup: Nats blow multiple leads in frustrating walk-off loss to Mets

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Nationals Roundup: Nats blow multiple leads in frustrating walk-off loss to Mets

The Nationals lost to the New York Mets, 6-5, Tuesday to drop their record to 19-29. 

Consider these news and notes as Washington trudges through its four-game series in New York: 

Players Notes:

NATIONALS: 

Erick Fedde made his first start of the season for Washington Tuesday night and put together a solid outing. The 26-year-old threw five innings of one-run baseball, allowing four hits, a walk, and strikeout. Thirty-one of his 61 pitches were sinkers.

Do you believe in the broadcaster's jinx theory? Perhaps you might after reading up on what Juan Soto did in the 2nd inning Tuesday. Then, later in the 8th, Soto scorched a go-ahead double to deep right notching his 100th career RBI. 

METS: 

Amed Rosario was the hero at Citi Field. His walk-off infield single off Kyle Barraclough was the difference in New York's 6-5 comeback win. 

The Mets got a quality start from starting pitcher Zack Wheeler, who threw seven innings of four-hit ball, three earned runs, two walks, and six strikeouts. 78 of his 118 pitches were thrown for strikes. 

Pete Alonso is lighting it up right now. His game-tying 417-foot home run in the 8th marked his 16th of the season. 

Injuries: 

SP Jeremy Hellickson: hamstring, expected to be out until at least May 31

RP Justin Miller: shoulder, expected to be out until at least May 31

SP Anibal Sanchez: hamstring, expected to be out until at least May 27

OF Andrew Stevenson: back, expected to be out until at least May 24

1B Matt Adams: shoulder, expected to be out until at least May 22

1B Ryan Zimmerman: foot, expected to be out until at least May 23

RP Koda Glover: elbow, expected to be out until at least May 25

RP Trevor Rosenthal: viral infection, Expected to be out until at least May 21

RP Austen Williams: shoulder, expected to be out until at least Jun 13

Coming Up:

Wednesday, 5/22: Nationals @ Mets, 7:10 p.m. ET, Citi Field 

Thursday, 5/23: Nationals @ Mets, 12:10 p.m. ET, Citi Field

Friday, 5/24: Marlins @ Nationals, 7:05 p.m. ET, Nationals Park

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Brandon Scherff confirms that he and the Redskins have 'been talking' about a contract extension

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Brandon Scherff confirms that he and the Redskins have 'been talking' about a contract extension

Bruce Allen identified getting a contract extension done for Pro Bowl guard Brandon Scherff as one of the Redskins biggest priorities of the 2019 offseason. To this point, however, nothing has happened. 

That doesn't seem to have Scherff concerned. 

"We've been talking, but I'm not really worried about that," he said after OTAs on Monday. "I'm here for another year, so that's all I'm worried about right now. Everything will take care of itself."

Scherff, the fifth overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, has played at an elite level since his rookie season. He's made two Pro Bowl teams in four years, and until last year, had been remarkably durable. 

In 2018, Scherff's season started very strong. 'Skins coach Jay Gruden described the former Iowa Hawkeye as the best pulling guard in the NFL and it was well-earned praise. Then, in a Week 8 loss, Scherff went down with a torn pectoral muscle. His season was over. 

At OTAs, however, Scherff was a full participant with no brace or apparent encumbrances from the injury. 

"I'm feeling really good, just taking it slow and making sure I'm 100 percent," he said. 

Expect the free agent market to be quite bullish. Once a lesser-paid position than tackle, guards have recently started pulling in significant cash. Zach Martin's recent contract extension in Dallas pays him more than $14 million per season, and Jacksonville is paying Andrew Norwell more than $13 million this year. 

For Scherff, expect top of the market money. He has the talent, pedigree and ability that if Washington won't pay in the neighborhood of Martin and Norwell, he can wait for free agency. 

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