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ND players say Irish, Tide defenses are alike

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ND players say Irish, Tide defenses are alike

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) When No. 1 Notre Dame lines up on offense Monday night in the BCS championship, the team on the other side of the ball will look a little familiar.

Fighting Irish players and coaches said Friday that the defense for No. 2 Alabama and their own have some similarities, including that both teams are known for giving opponents plenty of different looks.

``They're pretty diverse on defense,'' Irish offensive coordinator Chuck Martin said. ``They use their three-down and four-down packages, much like our defense uses our three-down and four-down packages.''

Alabama calls its base defense a 3-4, though the Crimson Tide are in that formation about once every five plays in the estimation of coach Nick Saban. Since arriving in South Florida earlier this week, Notre Dame players said the long gap between games - the Irish have not played since Nov. 24 - hasn't so much hurt rhythm as it gave them time to prepare for what's coming in the title game.

Quarterback Everett Golson may have been the biggest beneficiary of all that extra preparation time.

``They have a great defense, and like I said earlier, they play their responsibilities,'' Golson said. ``So it's going to be hard for us to kind of exploit their defense. But I'm sure just my ability to improvise, and the guys' around me ability to improvise, we'll work something out.''

This much was clear: There's a great respect for the Alabama defense, with good reason.

While Notre Dame leads the nation in scoring defense by a fraction of a point over Alabama, the Crimson Tide gave up the fewest yards per game of any team in the country.

``Very big,'' Irish running back Theo Riddick said. ``Very athletic.''

Not to mention very good.

Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart said it's clear to the Crimson Tide that Golson has gotten immeasurably better since the start of the season. Still, even Golson knows he'll have to be at his best against a championship-proven defense in the title matchup.

``Like we've said time and time again, Alabama has a great defense, and there's many things that they do, talking about switching out from three-down to four-down, just simple things like that that you have to prepare for or you have to have it instituted,'' Golson said. ``But for me, it's definitely going to be a great opportunity to compete for this national championship, so I'm looking forward to it.''

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In a stunner, Barry Trotz steps down two weeks after leading the Capitals to the Stanley Cup

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In a stunner, Barry Trotz steps down two weeks after leading the Capitals to the Stanley Cup

Less than two weeks after Barry Trotz helped deliver the first Stanley Cup in Caps’ history, the veteran head coach has chosen to resign in a decision that stunned the hockey world Monday afternoon.

Under the terms of the four-year contract Trotz signed in 2014, winning the Cup at any point during the duration of the deal triggered a two-year extension. But with coaches’ contracts having exploded in value in recent years, Trotz’s representatives sought to negotiate a new extension for a bigger salary and a longer term.

The sides attempted to hammer out an agreement in recent days that would appease both the team and the coach but failed, leading to Trotz’s decision to step down.

Shortly after the team announced that Trotz would resign, the coach released the following statement via his agent, Gil Scott:

"After careful consideration and consultation with my family, I am officially announcing my resignation as Head Coach of the Washington Capitals. When I came to Washington four years ago we had one goal in mind and that was to bring the Stanley Cup to the nation’s capital.”

“We had an incredible run this season culminating with our players and staff achieving our goal and sharing the excitement with our fans.  I would like to thank Mr. Leonsis, Dick Patrick and Brian MacLellan for giving me the opportunity to be a part of this great organization.  I would also like to thank our players and staff who worked tirelessly every day to achieve our success.”

The Caps released a statement of their own, expressing disappointment in Trotz’s decision to talk away while also thanking him for his contributions.

“Barry Trotz informed the organization today of his decision to resign as head coach of the Washington Capitals,” the statement read. “We are obviously disappointed by Barry’s decision, but would like to thank Barry for all his efforts the past four years and for helping bring the Stanley Cup to Washington. Barry is a man of high character and integrity and we are grateful for his leadership and for all that he has done for our franchise.”

Monday’s announcement was as much of a surprise as the Caps’ unexpected breakthrough in the playoffs, particularly given Trotz’s recent public comments. As recently as last week, in fact, he indicated that he was interested in staying.

The team’s plans to fill its suddenly vacant head coaching position were not immediately known, though its possible associate head coach Todd Reirden will receive serious consideration.

Trotz’s next move is also unclear. He’s technically under contract because of the two-year extension triggered earlier this month, but the Caps will grant permission to other teams to talk to him as though he’s a free agent.

GM Brian MacLellan will speak to reporters at 6 p.m. at Kettler Capitals Iceplex.

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Caps announce preseason schedule to kick off a busy week

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Caps announce preseason schedule to kick off a busy week

The Stanley Cup champion Caps will open their seven-game exhibition schedule on Sept. 16 season against the Bruins at TD Garden, the team announced.  

Washington will face Boston, Carolina and St. Louis twice apiece—once on the road, once at home—and the 

Canadiens one time. The game against the Habs will be played at Videotron Arena in Quebec City.

NBC Sports Washington’s preseason broadcast schedule will be announced at a later date.

Here’s the preseason entire slate:

Date                    Opponent           Location                      Time
Sun., Sept. 16      at Boston          TD Garden                  1 p.m.
Tues., Sept. 18    vs. Boston         Capital One Arena     7 p.m.
Thurs., Sept. 20  at Montreal      Quebec City, Que.      7 p.m.
Fri., Sept. 21        at Carolina        PNC Arena                  7:30 p.m.
Tues., Sept. 25    at St. Louis        Enterprise Center      7 p.m.
Fri., Sept. 28        vs. Carolina       Capital One Arena    7 p.m.
Sun., Sept. 30      vs. St. Louis      Capital One Arena     3 p.m.

Monday's announcement kicked off a busy week for the Caps.

On Wednesday, Alex Ovechkin will pick up his seventh Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. Nicklas Backstrom will also be on hand for media interviews; key members of the Cup-winning team are typically in attendance.

On Friday and Saturday in Dallas, Washington will make selections in the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 6th and 7th rounds of the 2018 Entry Draft at American Airlines Center. (Their fifth-round pick was dealt to Minnesota in the Tyler Graovac deal.)

Next Monday, many of the organization’s prospects, including this year’s picks, will report to Kettler Capitals Iceplex for the start of development camp. The schedule and roster will be announced this week.

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