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Irish get serious about preparing for Alabama

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Irish get serious about preparing for Alabama

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) Top-ranked Notre Dame finally got down to the serious business of getting ready to play defending national champion Alabama in the BCS title game on Jan. 7.

After weeks of some players and coaches traveling the nation for award shows, players finishing up the school year with finals and making trips home for Christmas, Notre Dame had its hardest hitting practice Saturday since its 22-13 victory over USC on Nov. 24 in the regular-season finale. Kelly plans another physical practice Sunday.

The starting defense practiced against the starting offense some on Saturday.

``Just to keep the speed in the game. I don't want practices to slow down. When it becomes all scout team, it has a tendency to become a little bit slower pace,'' Kelly said.

Left guard Chris Watt said the Irish know they have to play physical against Alabama, which is giving up just 2.5 yards per rush. He said the Crimson Tide defensive linemen do a good job of getting their hands quickly inside on offensive linemen and getting off blocks.

``They all want to be first-rounders, so they're going to try to get to the ball and make plays,'' he said.

The Irish offense plans to play some up-tempo against Alabama (12-1), hoping to find some personnel advantages against the Crimson Tide and hope to cause some confusion on the defense. But Kelly said the problem against the Crimson Tide is there aren't any obvious weaknesses to exploit.

``There's not one of the 11 guys where you can go, `Let's go attack him,''' Kelly said. ``Where other weeks during the year we say, `All right, let's get No. 4.' There's not a guy in the 11 you can say, `We're going to do this.'''

The Irish also hope to spread the field against the Tide to try to overcome their size and athleticism.

``If you go in there and say, `All right, we're just going to play between the tackles,' you're in for a long day,'' Kelly said. ``We've got to be attacking all areas and getting the kind of matchups that we need offensively. Because we need to get big chunk plays, I'm just going to tell you right now. They know that. We know that.''

One of the weaknesses for the Irish this season has been special teams. While the Irish rank sixth in the nation in total defense and 49th in total offense, they are 38th in net punting, 79th in kickoff defense, 83rd in kickoff returns and 115th in punt returns. Kelly said depth has been one of the problems. But the Irish will use more starters on special teams against the Crimson Tide.

``Maybe we can catch lightning in a bottle on a return or get a block, something to that affect,'' Kelly said.

Kelly also said the Irish will have an early curfew when they arrive in Miami on Jan. 2. He said he usually has a 2 a.m. curfew the first night or two on bowl trips so players can have fun. He says the curfew in Miami will be 11 p.m. every night, saying the team is approaching it like a business trip.

``They all understand what it's all about going down to Miami. It's not about enjoying South Beach. This is about preparing for a national championship game,'' he said.

Right tackle Christian Lombard said the Irish understand.

``Just coming back with a mindset of it's business now. The fun is over,'' he said.

The Irish are seeking their first national championship since 1988. When asked whether he had any New Year's resolutions, Kelly joked: ``Coach a good game. Don't screw it up.''

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Capitals at Kings: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

Capitals at Kings: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

The Washington Capitals head to Los Angeles to take on the Kings on Monday at 10:30 p.m. ET. The Caps are second in the Metropolitan Division with a record of 32-19-7, while the Kings are scraping along the bottom of the Pacific Division with a record of 23-29-6. The Caps also beat the Kings (quite recently) 6-4 on Feb. 11.

The Kings are hoping to break out of their season slump and put an end to their four-game losing streak against the Capitals during Monday evening’s 10:30 p.m. ET game.

Here is everything you need to know about Monday’s late-night matchup, which will begin at 10:30 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Washington.


CAPITALS at KINGS HOW TO WATCH

What: Washington Capitals at Los Angeles Kings, Game 60 of the 2018-19 NHL Regular Season
Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles, Calif.
When: Monday, Feb. 18, 10:30 p.m. ET
TV Channel: The Capitals at King game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (Channel Finder Link)
Live Stream: You can live stream Capitals at Kings on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and on the NBC Sports App.
Radio: Caps 24/7 Radio, 106.7 The Fan FM

CAPITALS at KINGS TV SCHEDULE

9:30 PM: Caps Faceoff Live
10:00 PM: Caps Pregame Live
10:30 PM: Capitals at Kings

CAPITALS at KINGS INJURY REPORT

Capitals: 
Lars Eller -- lower body as of Feb. 1

Kings: 
Alec Martinez -- upper body as of Feb. 15
Sean Walker -- face as of Feb. 15
Jonny Brodzinski -- shoulder as of Sept. 20

CAPITALS at KINGS PLAYERS TO WATCH

Evgeny Kuznetsov, F, Capitals (15 goals, 39 assists, 54 points): Last time the Caps faced the Kings (which was only one week ago), Kuznetsov contributed two goals and two assists to the Caps’ 6-4 victory. His timely goal finished out the game, essentially securing the Caps’ victory, NBC Sports Washington’s J.J. Reagan reported. In the two games that have happened since, Kuznetsov has given the Caps one assist and one point. 

Alex Ovechkin, F, Capitals (39 goals, 27 assists, 66 points): Ovi is just shy of 40-goals and played a key role in the Caps’ latest game against the Kings. He led the team with eight shots on net, and the team captain gave the Caps the first point of the game.

CAPITALS vs. KINGS SERIES HISTORY

Number of all-time Meetings: 111
All-Time Series Record: Kings lead 60-38-13
Last Meeting: Caps win 6-4 (2/11/19)

MORE CAPITALS NEWS: 

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As Bryce Harper saga drags on, Mike Rizzo says focus is elsewhere

As Bryce Harper saga drags on, Mike Rizzo says focus is elsewhere

As rumors swirl that the Phillies have gained traction with Bryce Harper, Mike Rizzo spoke confidently of his current roster at spring training.

"We worry about us. We worry about the Nationals," Rizzo said at team availability. "We have a strategy and a game plan going in to each offseason.

Rizzo also said that they were prepared for this situation, and it’s not all bad.

"Our payroll is quite a bit less than it was last season, and we feel we’ve got ourselves a team that should compete in the National League to play meaningful games September and beyond," Rizzo said. "I think the front office has done a great job."

Is that meant to comfort Nationals fans preparing to mourn the end of an era? Saving money may not cushion the fall, but Mike Rizzo prioritizing those in West Palm Beach is a signal that fans should do the same.

 

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