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Methodical Navy faces quick-strike Indiana

Methodical Navy faces quick-strike Indiana

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) Indiana hopes to speed up the game. Navy wants to slow it down.

Two dramatically contrasting offensive styles will be on display Saturday when the Hoosiers face the Midshipmen for the first time since 1986.

Second-year Indiana coach Kevin Wilson has devised a potent attack predicated on running a high number of plays with little delay. The Hoosiers (2-4) showed how effective the no-huddle system can be in last week's 52-49 loss to Ohio State.

``Our goal is to get on the ball very quickly and dictate to the defense,'' Indiana offensive coordinator Seth Littrell said. ``We want to keep the defense back on its heels and make it adjust to what we're doing,''

Navy (3-3), on the other hand, employs a triple-option offense that is designed to methodically move the ball and take time off the clock. In a 31-13 rout of Central Michigan last Friday, the Midshipmen dominated the time of possession, 35:47 to 24:13.

``The blueprint for our success was this past game: Run the ball, eat the clock,'' coach Ken Niumatalolo said. ``That's how we've got to win.''

Indiana leads the Big Ten and is ranked 15th nationally in passing offense (313 yards per game). The Hoosiers stand second in the conference (22nd nationally) in total offense (473 yards) and third (32nd) in scoring offense (35.5 points).

``There are so many things they do well and they do it all very quickly. They operate at a high tempo so you really have to be ready to play,'' Navy defensive coordinator Buddy Green said. ``They are very good at what they do. They're going up and down the field against everybody. They've scored a ton of points and put up a lot of yards in every game.''

Indiana has displayed quick-strike capability - 24 of its scoring drives this season have lasted three minutes or less. The Hoosiers have produced 14 touchdown drives under 90 seconds, nine of which covered at least 70 yards in six or fewer plays. Wilson's innovative approach has the team running a play every 20.6 seconds.

``It's a really, really good offense. They're very talented at all positions and have a complete package,'' Green said. ``They really keep you off balance with all the different phases of the offense. If you over-play the pass, they gash you in the running game.''

Tre Roberson opened the season as the starting quarterback for Indiana but suffered a broken leg in the second game against Massachusetts. Junior college transfer Cameron Coffman took over and has been solid in four games as the starter, completing 108 of 172 passes for 1,076 yards and seven touchdowns.

Shane Wynn is the top target with 31 receptions for 294 yards and five touchdowns.

Niumatalolo announced this week that freshman Keenan Reynolds is Navy's starting quarterback for the foreseeable future, saying ``it's his job to lose.'' Reynolds replaced injured starter Trey Miller against Air Force two weeks ago and led the Midshipmen to a come-from-behind overtime victory. The Tennessee native started at Central Michigan and become the first Navy quarterback to throw three touchdown passes in a game since Chris McCoy in 1997.

Slotback Gee Gee Greene has been the most consistent weapon for Navy, now 14th in the national rankings with 233 yards rushing per game. Greene, who has 292 yards rushing and 152 yards receiving, is averaging almost 10 yards every time he touches the ball.

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Wizards Tipoff podcast: John Wall goes 1-on-1 to talk Bryce Harper's future, celebrity softball and the Summer League

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Wizards Tipoff podcast: John Wall goes 1-on-1 to talk Bryce Harper's future, celebrity softball and the Summer League

On the latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast presented by Greenberg and Bederman, John Wall went 1-on-1 to talk Bryce Harper's future, the celebrity softball game and the Summer League.

Chase Hughes and Chris Miller broke down the parallels between Wall and Harper and why Wall has chosen to stay loyal to Washington in his own contract decisions. Plus, can the Wizards really tone down the talking this season?

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 2018 position outlook: Outside linebackers

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Redskins 2018 position outlook: Outside linebackers

Redskins Training camp opens next week, and we have a break here, giving us time to put the depth chart under the microscope.

Between now and the start of camp, we will look at every position, compare the group to the rest of the NFL, see if the position has been upgraded or downgraded from last year, and take out the crystal ball to see what might unfold.

OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS

Additions: Pernell McPhee (free agent)
Departures: Junior Galette (free agent)

Starters: Ryan Kerrigan, Preston Smith
Other roster locks: Ryan Anderson, McPhee
On the bubble: Pete Robertson

How the outside linebackers compare

To the rest of the NFL: By any measure, the Redskins had a top-10 pass rush last year. They were tied for seventh with 42 sacks and they got a sack on 7.3 percent of pass attempts, also seventh in the league. Looking forward to this year, Pro Football Focus has them ranked as the sixth-best pass rushing team for 2018. Ryan Kerrigan is showing no signs of slowing down as he approaches age 30 and Preston Smith is about to hit his prime. After the departure of Galette, the depth is questionable, and we’ll deal with that next. Even without Galette, it’s still one of the best units in the NFL. 

To the 2017 Redskins: Some downplay the decision to let Galette walk in free agency, saying he had just three sacks. But his value went beyond that. He had 9 QB hits and 25 hurries, both second-most on the team, in just 258 pass rush snaps. Someone will have to step up and replace that pressure. The spotlight will be on Anderson, who had no sacks after being a second-round pick. He will need to step up for this year’s Redskins pass rush to be as good as last year’s. 

2018 outside linebacker outlook

Biggest upside: Since the 2015 season, only one NFL player has at least 20 sacks, four forced fumbles, and three interceptions and it’s Preston Smith. His consistency is an issue but even when he is going for a few weeks between sacks he is getting pressure on the quarterback. Still, there is more ability there. Smith could set himself up for a big payday by breaking through with a double-digit sack season while continuing to make big plays in his contract year.

Most to prove: To be fair, Anderson did not get a whole lot of chances to rush the passer last year, playing just 81 pass rush snaps. Still, there are reasons to be concerned about how much he can produce after a zero-sack, one-hit, three-hurries 2017 debut season. Anderson was not expected to make a splash as a rookie, but more was anticipated. He was drafted where he was in part because of his work ethic. The Redskins hope he will work his way into a significant second-year leap. 

Rookie watch: There are no rookie outside linebackers on the roster. 

Bottom line: The main concern about the Redskins’ defense this year revolves around the cornerback spot following the departures of Kendall Fuller and Bashaud Breeland. The best way to manage problematic cornerbacks is by getting a strong pass rush. The Redskins need to Smith to have a true breakout season and for Anderson or McPhee to be a strong contributor off the bench. Along with the improved defensive line, the pass rush could transform the defensive line into a quality unit in 2018. 

2018 Redskins Position Outlook Series