Nationals

Georgia faces 2 former defensive coordinators

Georgia faces 2 former defensive coordinators

AUBURN, Ala. (AP) Brian VanGorder got his start in major college football running Georgia's defense. Willie Martinez used to hold that job, too.

Now, the two former defensive coordinators for the fifth-ranked Bulldogs will be on the opposing side Saturday night trying to help Auburn figure out how to slow down Georgia's offense.

It's just another close tie in a border rivalry where it's more often the players who have crossed state lines.

VanGorder is in his first season in the same job at Auburn, trying to rebuild a youthful group that has been inconsistent and at times abused this season. Martinez is coaching the Tigers' secondary after spending nine seasons at Georgia (8-1, 6-1 SEC) and serving as defensive coordinator from 2005-09.

Both will face their former boss Mark Richt for the first time on the opposing sideline.

``Mark gave me my first real break in this business,'' said VanGorder, Georgia's defensive coordinator and linebackers coach from 2001-04. ``Then there are guys that played for me, and the fans at Georgia. It was just such a fantastic time in my life. I certainly am aware of all that but I've also been in it long enough that I know when the whistle blows to start the game on Saturday night, that it's a ball game. It's a thinking man's game and it's an emotional game, and that'll really be the focus.''

He's got plenty of other things to worry about, anyway.

The Tigers (2-7, 0-6) must contend with quarterback Aaron Murray and one of the league's top offenses with a group that allowed 671 total yards to Texas A&M two weeks ago. It was the most Auburn had ever yielded.

The growing pains have been significant for VanGorder, who spent the past four seasons as defensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons. He has started three freshmen and a number of sophomores. Only defensive end Corey Lemonier, linebacker Daren Bates and safety Jermaine Whitehead have remained in the starting lineup for every game.

VanGorder said he went through a tough transition with Georgia, too.

``That was a situation where we really had to change the culture of defense there,'' he said. ``They just hadn't played the same type of defense that maybe the personnel indicated that you could. It was rough. We had a few tough games, some high yardage games, and it seems to me about the seventh game of the year we started to gain the consistency and confidence. And then by the end of the year, we were playing pretty solid ball.

``We had some good players that played in the NFL for a long time. We had talent but the culture change was really the tough part of the first year.''

Georgia won an SEC title and two division titles during his stay in Athens. Martinez replaced him and the Bulldogs won another league championship in 2005.

Their new defense ranks last in the SEC in run defense and 13th in total yards allowed.

Richt doesn't think the familiarity of VanGorder and Martinez - who spent nine seasons at Georgia and was coordinator from 2005-09 - with himself and Bulldogs offensive coordinator Mike Bobo will have much impact on the game.

``There's not many secrets out there in the college football world or SEC world,'' Richt said. ``First of all, every bit of film there is is given to each other freely. That's just how it is, so it's not like you can't get film on anybody and study what they do. Are we different offensively today than we were when VanGorder was here? Yeah, we're very different. So maybe not as different as when coach Martinez was here, but for the most part it's changed a good bit, just as far as little things and the fact that Mike is calling the game and not me.

``I think everybody gets enough information to put a good gameplan together.''

Auburn coach Gene Chizik, however, that experience ``certainly can't hurt you.''

Chizik said Georgia has changed some philosophically on offense over the years but not all that much.

``I think it's a little bit both ways,'' the Auburn coach said. ``The bottom line is when you watch this many games you know what they're going to do, they know what you're going to do. It's just a matter of executing and being in the right positions to make plays. Defensively, they've seen the last nine or 10 games. They know what we're going to do. They've been around those two guys as well. I think it's probably kind of a push.''

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Rain knocks out another Phillies-Nationals game

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Rain knocks out another Phillies-Nationals game

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals and Phillies are 2-for-2.

Tuesday night's game was postponed following a two-hour rain delay. Monday's game was postponed after a three-hour rain delay.

Tuesday's game will be made up as part of a split day-night doubleheader Sept. 24 at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m., bumping a four-game series to a five-game series. The Nationals and Phillies are scheduled to also play a split day-night doubleheader Wednesday.

The day was not without news. Nationals ace Max Scherzer broke his nose in batting practice when a ball bounced off his bat and struck him in the face. Scherzer was attempting to bunt at the time.

Scherzer's injury and the multiple postponements throw the Nationals' pitching plans into disarray. They're not sure if Scherzer will pitch as expected Wednesday. It appears Austin Voth, who was scratched from his Thursday start for Triple-A Fresno, will be available to pitch in one of the Wednesday games -- should they be played. More rain is expected Wednesday.

The Nationals will bump Patrick Corbin, who was slated to pitch again Tuesday, into a Wednesday spot. Wednesday's other starter is TBA. It could be Scherzer if he is ready. It could be Erick Fedde, and Voth could be used in the bullpen as the 26th man. That would provide Scherzer a chance to pitch Thursday and Strasburg on Friday against Atlanta. 

Or, Scherzer could be provided more time off. There's a lot to sort out once again thanks to the rain.

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Source: Wizards will have competition with teams like Lakers, Clippers for restricted free agent Bobby Portis

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USA Today

Source: Wizards will have competition with teams like Lakers, Clippers for restricted free agent Bobby Portis

This summer is shaping up to be lucrative for NBA free agents and big man Bobby Portis is well-positioned to cash in. After spending the final three months of the 2018-19 season with the Wizards, Portis is already seeing a healthy market develop ahead of the June 30 start of the league's negotiating period, NBC Sports Washington has learned.

The Wizards are likely to first extend a qualifying offer on June 30 to make him a restricted free agent. According to Spotrac.com, it will be about $3.6 million and that will give the Wizards the right to match an offer sheet from another franchise.

But teams are already indicating they want Portis, who is just 24 and coming off a season in which he averaged a career-high 14.2 points and 8.1 rebounds in 50 games. That market includes 5-10 teams and could grow once free agency opens.

Portis is expected to draw interest from the Lakers, Clippers, Jazz, Bucks, Magic and Knicks among others, NBC Sports Washington has learned.

Despite restricted free agency, Portis has a few things working for him. For one, there are a lot of teams with cap room. Spending won't reach 2016 levels, when the new CBA spiked the salary cap, but there will a lot of money to go around.

Also, guys in Portis' tier will only be helped if the top free agent options continue to dwindle. Klay Thompson looks more likely than ever to stay in Golden State after tearing his ACL. Winning a title could increase the odds Kawhi Leonard re-signs in Toronto, according to reports. And Kevin Durant's torn Achilles has thrown a wrench into the plans of teams with the most money to spend.

There is also the possibility Kemba Walker stays in Charlotte. And Kyrie Irving signing with Brooklyn, if it happens, would leave others exploring backup plans.

Portis isn't directly competing with any of those players, but could benefit if the top options are off the market. His name will only move up the list if that is the case.

Portis also has a unique selling point going for him. He shot 39.3 percent from three this past season and held a 40.3 percent clip to close the year in his 28 games with the Wizards. Three-point shooting is more valuable than ever and he brings that to the table at 6-foot-10.

Portis, who averaged 3.8 three-point attempts per game this past season, was one of only six players 6-10 or taller to shoot at least 39 percent on 3.5 attempts or more (min. 50 G). 

The question for Portis will be whether he gets the money he wants. He turned down an extension with the Chicago Bulls last fall just hours before the deadline to sign one. According to the Chicago Tribune, the deal was worth about $50 million and he wants to be paid in the range of $16 million annually. His asking price was partly why the Bulls traded him to the Wizards in February.

Even if the Wizards clear money, and they are expected to free up some by declining Jabari Parker's $20 million team option by the June 29 deadline, Portis could price himself out of Washington. It might not even take $16 million per year for that to happen.

The Wizards are set to operate through free agency with interim team president Tommy Sheppard at the helm, as the Washington Post reported on Tuesday. Sheppard making the call increases Portis' odds of staying, but that doesn't mean the price will match for both sides.

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