Redskins

Klein, No. 4 K-State rout No. 17 WVU 55-14

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Klein, No. 4 K-State rout No. 17 WVU 55-14

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) Collin Klein ran for four touchdowns and threw three TD passes as No. 4 Kansas State got little resistance from No. 17 West Virginia in a 55-14 victory Saturday night that turned a matchup of Heisman Trophy contenders into campaign ad for the Wildcats' quarterback.

Klein was 19 for 21 for a career-high 323 yards and ran for 41 yards for the Wildcats (7-0, 4-0 Big 12).

It was no surprise the Mountaineers (5-2, 2-2) were awful on defense, it's been that way all season. For the second straight game, though, Geno Smith and the offense did nothing to keep it close.

Smith followed up a clunker at Texas Tech last week with an even worse game, throwing his first two interceptions of the season and finishing 21 for 32 for 143 yards. The senior has gone from Heisman front-runner to long shot in two weeks.

Kansas State (7-0, 4-0) scored on its first eight possessions, making it 52-7 with 2:25 minutes left in the third quarter when Klein hit Tyler Lockett over the middle for a 20-yard score.

Milan-Puskar Stadium was already half empty by that point, and a long line cars was creeping out of the parking lot.

The optimism and excitement that was pumping through Morgantown a couple of weeks ago is gone.

In Manhattan, Kan., it's all good, and everything is on the table for coach Bill Snyder's team. The Wildcats are the only unbeaten team in the Big 12. Their quarterback is the Heisman front-runner. And with five games left on the schedule, they are serious national title contenders.

The first meeting since 1931 of the new Big 12 rivals was so lopsided that by the time it was over it was hard to even remember that this matchup started as a battle for first in the conference.

On one side was Klein, aka Optimus Klein, the Wildcats' methodical battering ram, whose passes don't look like much but usually find their target.

On the other side was Smith, the future NFL first-round draft pick with the video game passing statistics.

But Klein got to face West Virginia's beleaguered defense, which ranks near the bottom of the Big 12 and the country in just about everything.

With the Mountaineers seemingly determined to at least stop the run early, Klein completed his first seven passes, including a 10-yard touchdown that Lockett made a stretching, toe-dragging catch on in the back corner of the end zone. That made it 10-0 in the first.

The K-State running game went to work on the third drive and Klein finished that off with a 1-yard plunge.

Klein made it 24-0 on the next Kansas State drive, taking an option keeper 8 yards. That gave him 39 rushing touchdowns over the last two seasons to break an FBS record held by Eric Crouch of Nebraska and Stacey Robinson of Northern Illinois.

Tavon Austin finally put a little life back into the sellout crowd when he took the ensuing kickoff back 100 yards for a score with 4:12 left in the first half.

The bad news for West Virginia was that it gave the Wildcats more than enough time to get the ball back in the end zone - which they did.

Klein hit Lockett deep for 44 yards and a few plays later he finished off the drive with another 1-yard dive.

The first half onslaught went like this for Kansas State: five possessions, 346 yards, four touchdowns and a field goal. The offense was unstoppable and the defense was just as good, holding Smith to 62 yards by flooding the secondary with defenders and taking away the down field throws.

Maybe the pressure of having to score every time he touches the ball has gotten to Smith, but that trip to New York for the Heisman Trophy presentation, which seemed like a lock after the Mountaineers won at Texas, is now in serious doubt.

As for Klein and the Wildcats, they will face tougher tests. The gap between the top and the bottom of the Big 12 doesn't seem all that wide. But they have now won three conference road games, including at Oklahoma. They came into the weekend fourth in BCS standings, behind Alabama, Florida and Oregon.

With their 73-year-old coach pushing all the right buttons and their happily married quarterback making all the right plays, the Wildcats might be due for a promotion.

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The Kerrigans are having a baby and, WOW, this is all so very exciting

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@kerrigan91

The Kerrigans are having a baby and, WOW, this is all so very exciting

The Kerrigan family is about to make a big-time addition to its roster.

Ryan and his wife, Jessica, already have two very, VERY, very, very cute bulldogs in their household. 

But on Tuesday, the two announced in separate Instagram posts that Jessica is 18 weeks pregnant and that a third human Kerrigan will arrive in 2019.

"Can I eat dis sign aftur da picturr iz over?" George the bulldog said when reached for comment on the news.

"How did dey gett such a smawl jerzey for da baby alreddy?" Franklin the other bulldog added.

This is all very wonderful.

Come next March, the world is about to get a little precious-er.

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The Caps are a bad faceoff team, here’s what they’re doing about it

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USA Today Sports

The Caps are a bad faceoff team, here’s what they’re doing about it

Tuesday’s practice was a lot like every other for the Caps until the end. After working on the power play, the team gathered at one end of the ice and began working on faceoffs. It was not just the centers, but wingers and defensemen alike got into the action with every win celebrated by loud cheers from teammates.

It should could as no surprise to see faceoffs as a point of emphasis for Washington considering just how much the team has struggled with them in the early season. The Caps rank 30th in the league in faceoff win percentage at only 43.8-percent.

“Yeah, there's little details that can help our game,” Lars Eller told reporters after practice. “The more you have the puck, easier the game is gonna be for you. We have a little more time in between games than usual during the season here, so we have the time to work on something like that, which can be little things that makes the difference.”

The team as a whole watched video on faceoffs prior to practice and then worked as a five-man unit during the drill. The main point of emphasis head coach Todd Reirden wanted to drill into his players was that faceoffs are not simply the responsibility of the centers alone.

“The days of it just being center vs. center and a clean draw being won back are a rarity now so it's important to have all five guys helping, something we watched video on earlier today,” Reirden said.

“You ask any centerman if they have a good group of wingers that can help them out on draws, that makes a huge difference,” Nic Dowd said. “I've been lucky, I have [Devante Smith-Pelly] on my right and I'm a righty so I win all my draws my backhand side so a lot of pucks go his way and he wins a lot of draws for me. That's huge. You have a guy that's sitting over there that's sleeping, you could go easily from five wins to five losses and then that's your night. It makes a big difference.”

Faceoffs were always going to be more of a struggle for the Caps this season with the departure of Jay Beagle who was, by far, the team’s best faceoff man for several years. Whenever the team needed a big draw, Beagle was the player relied upon to win it. With him gone, it is no surprise to see the team struggle.

But the Caps don’t like the idea of keeping possession off a draw just 43.8-percent of the time.

“It's essentially like the ref is creating a 50-50 puck and you snap it back, you get possession, now you're forechecking and it makes a huge difference,” Dowd said. “You play against those top lines, they want to be in the O-zone. Well, if you lose the draw, now you're playing D-zone, you win the draw now you're playing O-zone. So effectively, you've shut down their shift.”

There is a school of thought suggesting that perhaps the importance of winning faceoffs is overrated and a team’s faceoff win percentage is not overly important. Eller himself admitted as much to reporters.

What no one can argue, however, is that while some faceoffs may not matter all that much, there are some that are hugely important in a game. The Caps recognize that. For them, being a strong faceoff team is not necessarily about improving the team’s win percentage, but more about being able to win those critical draws.

“It's something that for the most part the players understand and a neutral zone faceoff with 14 minutes to go in the first period is not nearly as important as one that's 5-on-6 at the end of the game,” Reirden said. “We all know that. It's important to put the right people on those situations and give them the best chance to have success.”

“A center ice draw, I could see where guys could make the argument, well you lose it you still will play hockey and stuff could still happen,” Dowd said. “But I think the game is such a possession game now that any opportunity you can win a 50-50 puck whether that's a faceoff or a board battle, it makes a huge difference.”

 

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