Redskins

No. 11 Louisville ready for erratic Syracuse

No. 11 Louisville ready for erratic Syracuse

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) Charlie Strong wants his Louisville Cardinals to enter the Carrier Dome with a big chip on their shoulders when they play Syracuse.

``I want our players to feel like they are being disrespected,'' Strong said.

Shouldn't be a problem.

Despite being one of only six unbeaten teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision, Louisville (9-0, 4-0 Big East) is ranked 11th in the AP Top 25 and ninth in the latest BCS standings. In the BCS, the Cardinals trail Georgia and Florida, who each have one loss, and LSU and South Carolina, with two losses apiece.

``What I would hate to see is all of a sudden we're No. 5 in the BCS,'' Strong said. ``Then our guys are going to feel like, `Hey, we have arrived. We're there.' No. Let's just keep working and then at the end see where we are.''

The Cardinals have quietly made a strong statement behind quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and will present all sorts of problems for the Orange (4-5, 3-2).

``This is the best football team that we will have played so far,'' said Syracuse coach Doug Marrone, who watched his team lose 42-29 to Matt Barkley and then-No. 2 Southern California in the second week of the season. ``Even with a tough out-of-conference schedule, I would say Teddy Bridgewater is the best quarterback that we will face so far this season. He's a playmaker.''

Indeed.

Coming off a five-touchdown performance in a 45-17 win over Temple, Bridgewater has thrown for 2,434 yards and 18 TDs with only four interceptions, has a 70.4-percent completion rate, and is ranked fifth nationally in passing efficiency (169.98).

``He's a good quarterback on film,'' Syracuse nose tackle Jay Bromley said. ``He delivers the ball on time. He extends plays with his feet. But we've faced some really good quarterbacks over the course of the season, so we're prepared for anything. We can turn this around.''

Syracuse has to win two of its final three games to achieve the six wins needed to play in a bowl game, and the Orange will rely on quarterback Ryan Nassib to lead the way. He has thrown for a school-record 2,773 yards as the Orange has produced three 500-yard receivers in a season for the first time - Marcus Sales with 722, Alec Lemon 569, and Jarrod West 523.

``It's going to be a good test for us, a team that needs to become bowl-eligible,'' Strong said. ``Now, they have to go win.''

Syracuse has excelled against the run under defensive coordinator Scott Shafer. But in a 35-24 loss last week at Cincinnati, it faltered despite a solid effort by safety Shamarko Thomas, who had 14 tackles (10 solos) and forced a fumble.

Cincinnati's George Winn was named Big East offensive player of the week on Monday. He rushed for 165 yards and three touchdowns - both career highs - and threw a 37-yard touchdown pass to key the win over Syracuse. That came a week after South Florida rushed for 369 yards - a high against a Shafer defense in his 45 games at Syracuse - in a one-point loss to the Orange.

Now come Louisville's Senorise Perry and Jeremy Wright. Although Bridgewater is the guy who makes the Louisville offense purr, Perry has a league-high 11 touchdown runs, Wright has nine, and the two have combined to average 151 yards rushing per game.

Though the hopes of making the postseason for the second time in three years are in jeopardy with two road games remaining, Marrone isn't looking any farther ahead than Saturday.

``I always look at it from week to week,'' he said. ``I've never really looked at it from the overall picture because you can't. I think it distracts you from the task at hand.''

The Syracuse players certainly seem focused, especially because Saturday will be Senior Day for a core group of players that have been key to helping Marrone turn around a program that was a laughingstock not so long ago.

``It's special for me,'' Nassib said. ``It's my last game in the dome. I've been in there for the last five years. I would say there's a little more extra emphasis on being a little bit more prepared, more ready to go. But at the same time I've got to make sure I don't try to do too much.''

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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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