Other Sports

MSU's Perkins is SEC's unlikely leading rusher

201210231237454444590-p2.jpeg

MSU's Perkins is SEC's unlikely leading rusher

STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) First there was Anthony Dixon. Then there was Vick Ballard.

While both are now in the NFL, the string of great Mississippi State running backs continues.

The latest is LaDarius Perkins, who is putting up big numbers for the No. 13 Bulldogs (7-0, 3-0 Southeastern Conference) as they prepare to face No. 1 Alabama (7-0, 4-0) on Saturday.

There are bigger names in the conference - South Carolina's Marcus Lattimore, Alabama's Eddie Lacy and Texas A&M's do-everything quarterback Johnny Manziel - but it's the 5-foot-10, 190-pound Perkins who leads the SEC with 103.4 rushing yards per game. He's also fourth in the league with eight touchdowns.

His name is unfamiliar to many in the SEC. But Alabama is learning quickly.

``A lot of people haven't heard of him,'' Alabama's linebacker Nico Johnson says. ``That means he's going to come in with a chip on his shoulder, you know? I like to think we're a good defense this year; he's probably thinking that, too. So this is his chance to showcase what he can do.''

So far, Perkins has shown he can do just about anything.

He was the backup to Ballard over the past two seasons, and because of his smaller stature, was used mostly on outside running plays where he didn't have to deal with the 300-pound behemoths that clog the middle of SEC defenses.

But now he's the starter and has shown he can run between the tackles with success. He's averaged exactly 100 yards in the team's three SEC victories.

Mississippi State coach Dan Mullen said Perkins has deceptive strength, and learned how to handle the increased load by watching Dixon and Ballard.

``I think in the development of our program, our guys learn from guys in front of them,'' Mullen said. ``He just picked up on that.''

Now Perkins gets to test his running skills against arguably the best defense in college football. Alabama is giving up just 195.6 total yards per game, including just 58.7 yards on the ground. Both numbers lead the SEC by a wide margin.

The Crimson Tide hasn't given up 100 yards rushing to a team this season - much less one person.

But Perkins is optimistic. He said quarterback Tyler Russell's emergence has helped open running room all season. Russell is fifth in the SEC in passing with 224.7 yards per game and has thrown 15 touchdowns.

``I feel like we have a great chance to run the ball, because I know we can throw the ball well too, so that's going to open things up for us,'' Perkins said.

Perkins won't necessarily have to face the Alabama defense alone. Backup running backs Derrick Milton, Josh Robinson and Nick Griffin also all had good moments in various roles, while backup quarterback Dak Prescott has rushed for three touchdowns this season in goal-line situations.

``They've got a really good scheme that they run the ball with, and lots of multiples in terms of how they present it, how they try to confuse defensive players,'' Alabama coach Nick Saban said.

But trickery alone probably won't beat Alabama. The Bulldogs are going to need a few big plays - and Perkins is one of the most likely candidates to make one happen.

He showed his big-play ability last week with a 64-yard touchdown run against Middle Tennessee that helped turn a close game into a 45-3 victory.

``A guy my size, it's hard to get a good lick on me because I'm low to the ground and pretty shifty,'' Perkins said. ``If they hit me hard, they hit me hard, but I don't look at it like that. I just make sure I follow my block, stay behind the offensive line and good things will happen.''

-----

AP Sports Writer John Zenor in Tuscaloosa, Ala., contributed to this story.

-----

Follow David Brandt on Twitter: www.twitter.com/davidbrandtAP

Summer Guide: The top pizza places in and around Washington, D.C.

capitol8.jpg
NBC Sports Washington

Summer Guide: The top pizza places in and around Washington, D.C.

Last summer, NBC Sports Washington put together guides that highlighted the best bars and restaurants to watch the Capitals' Stanley Cup run and the FIFA World Cup. Earlier this summer we provided some spots around Nationals Park and Camden Yards too. 

With summer 2019 halfway over, now is the time to highlight some go-to spots for pizza in and around the district.

Here are, in no particular order, some of the top pizzerias in and around Washington, D.C.

Etto, 1541 14th St. NW, Washington, DC 20005

  • Logan Circle
  • With veggies specials and pizza alike, the leisurely atmosphere at Etto provides a needed respite from the hustle of D.C.
  • Check out the roasted cauliflower pizza, or the seasonal zucchini and squash blossoms pie, two non-traditional menu options

 

Wiseguy Pizza, 300 Massachusetts Ave NW, Ste 1, Washington, DC 20001

  • Near the Judiciary Square Metro stop.
  • Wiseguy owner Tony Erol perfected a New York-style pizza without making it chock-full of grease, ensuring a crispy slice. 
  • Between the expected Buffalo chicken pizza and the unexpected paneer tikka pie, Wiseguy's menu appeals to many palates. 

 

Menomale Pizza Napoletana, 2711 12th St. NE, Washington, DC 20018

  • Between the Rhode Island Ave and Brookland Metro stops.
  • Neapolitan pizzas are Menomale's specialty, but with stellar crust the pizzeria also produces delicious calzones and sandwiches.
  • Take a look at the menu, which houses all the tasty carb-loaded food, plus a surprising range of craft beers. 

 

2 Amys Neapolitan Pizzeria, 3715 Macomb St. NW, Washington DC 20016

  • Near Washington National Cathedral
  • 2 Amys' wood-fired pizzas and family-friendly setting combine for an authentic atmosphere.
  • The menu offers some less-known pies, like the Etna 2.0, which in part features fried eggplant. 

 

All-Purpose Riverfront, 79 Potomac Ave. SE, Washington, DC 20003

  • Navy Yard, across from Nationals Park
  • With All-Purpose, chef Mike Friedman revamps classic Italian-American flavors, like his garlic knots coated with a fonduta reminiscent of alfredo. 
  • Head to happy hour on weekdays from 4-7 p.m. for drink and food specials, like the Little Caesar or the Crispy Chicken Wings. 

 

Ghibellina, 1610 14th St. NW, Washington, DC 20009

  • Logan Circle
  • Does $10 pizza happy hour sound appealing? Then head to Ghibellina from 3-6:30 p.m. (or 4-6:30 pm. Monday's).
  • Between pizzas, specialty cocktails and other Italian cuisine, the restaurant and its authentic atmosphere is sure to please. 

 

OUTSIDE OF D.C.

Pupatella, 5104 Wilson Blvd, Arlington, VA 22205

  • On the outskirts of Downtown Arlington
  • After growing from a food cart in Ballston, Virginia, Pupatella has grown to a reputable source for classic pizza pies. 
  • Check out the red or white pies, which include the Mimosa and Buffala Bianza pizzas. 

 

Inferno Pizzeria Napoletana, 12207 Darnestown Rd., Gaithersburg, MD 20878

  • Out past Rockville, Maryland
  • While a bit of a trek from inside the district, the variety of pizzas including the Smoky Meatball is sure to make the trip worthwhile. 

Quick Links

This video of early Thomas Bryant-Isaiah Thomas chemistry should make Wizards fans smile

d_urkgcw4aaj24o.jpg
Isaiah Thomas Instagram

This video of early Thomas Bryant-Isaiah Thomas chemistry should make Wizards fans smile

One of the best parts of the NBA offseason, behind free-agency and the draft, has to be the open run's that go on all summer long. These sessions give an opportunity for NBA players to team up with each other, while also playing alongside high school, college, and overseas talent. 

Some new Wizards teammates, Isaiah Thomas and Thomas Bryant, made their way to the Rico Hines private run in Los Angeles, California to establish some chemistry before training camp opens in late September.  

As seen above, IT is no stranger to sharing the sugar as he finished top 20 in the league in assists per game (5.9) in 2016, the last season he was fully healthy. While TB is one of the most efficient rim-runners in the league, leading the NBA in two-point field goal percentage (68.5) last season. 

Could this be a preview of what to expect come season's tip? Wizards fans sure hope so. 

MORE WIZARDS NEWS: