No. 10 Clemson will stay aggressive vs. Maryland

No. 10 Clemson will stay aggressive vs. Maryland

CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) As Clemson's games get bigger, coach Dabo Swinney's approach stays the same.

The 10th-ranked Tigers (8-1, 5-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) take on Maryland (4-5, 2-3) at Death Valley on Saturday, trying to keep their alive their fading chances at a second straight league title and an at-large BCS berth.

The contest is expected to be mismatch - Clemson is a four-touchdown favorite - but that hasn't lessened Swinney's focus. He said his team needs to keep up its record-setting performance on offense and showing improvement on defense, no matter what adversity the opponent may be facing.

``The mentality is exactly the same,'' he said. ``This is the biggest game of the year. That's been our mentality all year, nothing changes. The formula is exactly the same. It's technique and all-in commitment.''

Things have gone extremely well for the Tigers this year. They've won five straight by an average of 28 points a game, including three spots they've traditionally struggled in at Boston College (45-31), Wake Forest (42-13) and, last week, Duke (56-20).

Expect more of the same against the Terps, hit with a horrific string of season-ending injuries last year. Converted linebacker Shawn Petty will start his second straight game at quarterback after Maryland's four scholarship passers were all hurt and lost for the year.

This week, Maryland announced its leading tackler in linebacker Demetrius Hartsfield tore an ACL and is also finished for the season.

Terrapins coach Randy Edsall said he and his team will make it through the problems because they're a family and things will improve.

``Guys understand that there is going to be adversity that strikes during the season,'' Edsall said. ``Probably didn't expect this much adversity to strike.''

Petty, as you might expect, struggled in a 33-13 loss to Georgia Tech. He threw an interception, lost two fumbles and was sacked four times. Petty did throw a pair of TD passes to Maryland star freshman Stefon Diggs.

The Terps have lost three straight after opening 4-2. The team has been one of the ACC's top defenses, second only to Florida State in yards given up and third overall in points allowed. They'll need a strong effort to slow down a Clemson offense and quarterback in Tajh Boyd setting records at nearly every outing.

Boyd, a junior, has thrown for 1,696 yards and 16 touchdowns during the Tigers' winning streak. He connected on five TD throws in each of the past two games, putting away Wake Forest and Duke before halftime.

``It's one of those deals where I feel like as an offense we're starting to hit on what we're trying to control,'' Boyd said. ``Scoring on most of our drives that we have and capitalizing on any opportunities.''

Boyd's not doing it alone.

Receiver Sammy Watkins set a single-game record two games ago with 202 yards in receptions at Wake Forest. He broke the mark of 197 yards established three games earlier by DeAndre Hopkins.

Tailback Andre Ellington has 780 yards rushing, second in the ACC. He ran one play for 26 yards last week at Duke before tweaking a hamstring. Offensive coordinator Chad Morris said Ellington could've returned against the Blue Devils, but the coaches chose not to risk it while leading 42-17 at halftime.

Clemson finished with 718 yards of offense, second all-time in school history behind the 756 yards gained against Wake Forest in the, 12-0, national championship season of 1981.

The Tigers won't have the chance to duplicate their success of 31 years ago. A September loss at No. 8 Florida State will likely cost Clemson a shot winning its third ACC Atlantic Division crown in four seasons.

Boyd, though, says there's plenty on the table for the Tigers to achieve. A victory Saturday would be a record-setting 12th straight at home, bettering a mark set twice before, the last time from 1989-1991.

Clemson can still finish with just one loss, which would be its fewest since it went 6-0-1 to win the ACC title in 1991. It can put up back-to-back 10-win seasons for the first time in reaching double-digit wins four straight times from 1987-1990.

Winning out - the Tigers follow with North Carolina State and rival South Carolina - would mean the program's first 11-victory season since 1981.

Swinney says his players are ready to chase each and every one of those goals, no matter if the Tigers are edged out for titles.

``That's why I'm proud of our guys because they have learned how to win,'' Swinney said. ``It's a mindset.''

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Ted Leonsis maintains optimism amid harsh reality of John Wall injury

Ted Leonsis maintains optimism amid harsh reality of John Wall injury

CAPITAL ONE ARENA -- It might be quite a while before we see John Wall on the court playing for the Wizards again.

It was already well-known Wall will miss extended time as he recovers from a ruptured Achilles tendon, a rehab that usually takes at least 11 months. But it is starting to sound more and more like he won't play in the 2019-20 season at all.

Wizards managing partner Ted Leonsis shared that harsh reality on Monday during a press conference at Capital One Arena.

"Our highest-paid player, our five-time All-Star, may not play at all next year. He probably won't play at all next year," Leonsis said.

If Wall follows the general timeline for the surgery, he could come back sometime early in 2020. A 12-month recovery would have him return in early February.

If Wall missed all of next season, he would return to start the 2020-21 campaign after a 20-month recovery. That would be nearly double the rehab time many players have taken for the same injury over the years. He would be 30 years old by then.

But Wall and the Wizards have reason to be extra patient. He is entering the first season of a four-year, $170 million supermax contract. Punting the first year, even if he is making $38 million, could be worth it in the long run if it means he returns to his All-Star form.

The Wizards are also likely to have a gap year of sorts anyways. They retooled their roster with young, inexperienced players. The odds they make the playoffs this season are lower than they have been in years. The Wizards are taking the long view and they know getting Wall's rehab right is paramount.

Leonsis and team officials currently get daily reports on Wall's progress. After making the supermax investment, they are taking extra measures to ensure he is holding up his end of the bargain. The Wizards closely monitor his weight and have a rotation of physical therapists working with him every day.

If it were up to Wall, he would be more likely to return next season. The team is the side taking extra caution.

"Trust me, nobody wants to get back to the court more than John Wall," GM Tommy Sheppard told NBC Sports Washington. 

"But I've tried to manage this with him and say there is no calendar or clock that is going to tell you to come back. You're going to come back when you're 100 percent healthy. Anybody who has watched him in the playoffs play with broken hands and all of the aches and pains he's had over the years and he still showed up and played at a high, high level. You know you need to monitor him a little more than most. That's the kind of player that is going to try to sneak back on the court any time he can."

What Leonsis said publicly has been the belief behind the scenes in the Wizards organization for quite some time. They are preparing for next season as if he won't play, 

"We have to see if John Wall comes back and how he looks and how he plays," Leonsis told NBC Sports Washington. "If John Wall can come back at 80 percent the year after [in 2020-21], I would be really happy because then we would have a great, great backcourt."


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Redskins365 Episode 1: The Future Starts Now

Redskins365 Episode 1: The Future Starts Now

Over the 2019 offseason, the Washington Redskins periodically released episodes to a new series called "Redskins 365". Here, viewers can get an all-access look into all the important moments leading up to the 2019-20 season. In episode 1 titled "The Future Starts Now" the Redskins begin their journey toward improvement following the conclusion of the 2018-19 campaign.

The episode begins immediately following the disappointing end to Washington's season as players participated in locker cleanout day. A somewhat somber atmosphere, the likes of Shaun Dion Hamilton, Adrian Peterson, Ryan Kerrigan and Trent Williams reflect on the season and look ahead to 2019.

Following that, it's on to the additions and changes on the coaching staff. Head coach Jay Gruden gives his thoughts on new defensive staff hirings Ray Horton and Rob Ryan as well as Kevin O'Connell's jump to offensive coordinator. Ryan and O'Connell also explain their excitement for next season in their respective roles.

With the coaching staff puzzle becoming clear, the episode transitions to the NFL Combine. Gruden along with Senior Vice President of Player Personnel Doug Williams, President Bruce Allen and Director of College Scouting Kyle Smith take you through the Combine process. Discussions about the interview process and what the Redskins are looking for in players give insight into how evaluations are done. 

The Combine portion has a heavy focus on players Kyler Murray, D.K. Metcalf and Montez Sweat among others. Released on March 20, one can see and hear from Sweat before the idea of him becoming a Redskin came to fruition and listen to Metcalf's thoughts on Jay Gruden.

Head Strength and Conditioning Coach Chad Englehart also makes an appearance, discussing his viral moment with Ed Oliver at the combine and the fraternity-type bond conditioning coaches in the NFL share.

Washington's journey toward success in 2019 began the moment the clock ran out on the 2018 season. Episode 1 of "Redskins365" picks up right in that preliminary stage.