No. 14 Clemson looks to get back to form at Wake


No. 14 Clemson looks to get back to form at Wake

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) Maybe this is what Clemson's high-flying offense needs to get clicking again: a matchup with the Atlantic Coast Conference team it beats most often.

The 14th-ranked Tigers (6-1, 3-1) are coming off a game in which they had season lows in every meaningful offensive stat but the final score. They're headed to Wake Forest on Thursday night looking to get back to their norms of big yards and big points.

The league's best passing offense was held to 160 yards through the air and also finished with 135 yards rushing and 295 total yards in a 38-17 win over Virginia Tech. Those numbers would be considered mediocre at best for most teams, and a definite cause for concern for a Tigers team that averages 493 total yards behind big-play threats Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins.

``If you don't play well and are still able to win a ballgame, that's a good day,'' Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris said. ``But for us to achieve our goals we have set here, we have to play better than that. ... I think our (offensive) guys might have been signing too many autographs. We had to put the Sharpies up this week.''

They hope to get well against Wake Forest (4-3, 2-3). Clemson has beaten the Demon Deacons 59 times - only South Carolina (65) has more losses to the Tigers - and has won three straight and five of six in the series.

Wake Forest doesn't expect Clemson's offensive struggles to continue, not with so many playmakers throughout the depth chart. Boyd threw for 343 yards and two touchdowns and Andre Ellington rushed for 98 yards and two scores against his team last year, but the Tigers needed a last-second field goal to avoid overtime and claim a 31-28 win.

``If you miss an assignment, they will make you pay for it and they probably will score because they've done that all year,'' linebacker Riley Haynes said. ``People get out of their gaps, Andre Ellington's going to take it to the house. If you miss a coverage, Sammy Watkins or DeAndre Hopkins is going to find it and they're going to score and they're going to make you pay. ... They do a couple things that mess with you mentally a little bit, so it's huge to be mentally sound and prevent the big plays as much as you can to have a chance at slowing them down.''

At least the Demon Deacons will have a big-play threat of his own in their lineup: receiver Michael Campanaro is expected to play after missing two games with a broken right hand. Campanaro, who had an ACC-best 38 catches when he was hurt Sept. 29 against Duke, returned a punt 50 yards for a touchdown last year against the Tigers.

His return should help a Wake Forest offense that is coming off a subpar performance of its own. In a 16-10 win at Virginia, the Demon Deacons gained just 213 total yards - their lowest total in an ACC victory since 1966. And it certainly can't hurt quarterback Tanner Price, a normally reliable passer who completed just 35 percent of his attempts in two full games without Campanaro.

``We've got a skeleton crew around him, and those guys aren't in a great position because they know if they play better, we've got a shot,'' coach Jim Grobe said. ``So there's a lot of pressure on all these guys with the injuries that we've had to move the football and score points. It's not easy on anybody - coaches or players - but that's where we are. You've just got to move forward and get after it. Find a way.''

The Demon Deacons have only beaten Clemson once since 2005 - but that game had some powerful aftereffects.

Wake Forest's 12-7 win at home on a Thursday night in 2008 wound up being the last game for Tommy Bowden as the Tigers' coach. He stepped down a few days later while Dabo Swinney was elevated from coaching receivers to interim head coach. He got the job permanently after the season.

Four years later and preparing for another weeknight in Winston-Salem, Swinney says the historical significance hasn't been lost on him.

``Sometimes I sit and reflect and am blown away how quickly life can change,'' Swinney said. ``Looking back four years ago, we've come a long ways, and hopefully we can continue to get better.''

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Everything you need to know about the new and improved MLB Trade Deadline

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Everything you need to know about the new and improved MLB Trade Deadline

For a long time, Major League Baseball had the best, most exciting trade deadline among the four major sports. In recent seasons, that excitement has been eclipsed by the popularity of the NBA, but baseball still stands ahead of football and hockey in terms of in-season movement.

In an effort to shake things up a bit, baseball’s trade deadline underwent some changes in the offseason.

Notably, while July 31 has always been deadline day, in past years it was a bit of a misnomer. July 31 was technically just the Non-Waiver Trade Deadline in years past. The month of August has always allowed trades to be made as long as players pass through waivers. If a player is claimed off waivers, his team can either pull him back, let him go for nothing, or negotiate a deal with his claiming team only.

This obviously made for much more limited movement in August, but it was always an option. 

Not anymore. Now? July 31 the *only* deadline.

The August revocable waivers trade deadline was always a bit convoluted, and it never made much sense to have more than one deadline. So it’s logical to think the powers that be would want to simplify things for the league.

Reportedly, Major League Baseball is hoping the change will not only help simplify in-season moves, but also help jumpstart offseason activity. The thinking is if teams have even just one fewer option to improve their roster midseason, then contenders will be forced to get aggressive in the offseason.

It remains to be seen if that will come to fruition, but one forthcoming change does seem pretty obvious. The singular trade deadline should make for a much more active July.

Both buyers and sellers have to commit to a direction earlier in the season now. Last year, for example, the Nationals executed their mini-firesale in mid-August, once it had become clear they were not going to compete for the postseason. At the end of the July they were still undecided, which is why they held onto Bryce Harper.

Considering how long it can take major deals to come together, teams have to essentially decide by the All-Star break if they are in or out on competing for October. It will be especially difficult for teams to read the writing on the wall when they are hovering around .500.

As of this writing, there are 10 teams within six games of .500 in either direction, and that doesn’t include organizations like the Red Sox, Nationals and Athletics who have quality records but are way behind runaway division leaders. Will they want to trade away controllable assets for a shot at a one-game Wild Card berth?

General Managers who can forecast their team’s likelihood of competing, and respond accordingly, will be rewarded under the new system. Orioles GM Mike Elias already began his team’s sell-off, trading Andrew Cashner away weeks before the end of July. By contrast, in 2018 both Jonathan Schoop and Kevin Gausman were moved by the Orioles with under an hour to go on deadline day.

It’s hard to perfectly predict all the ways rule changes can affect a sport, but in the case of the singular trade deadline, it’s obvious that teams are now required to commit earlier, with fewer games of information from which to work.

That’s exciting for a sport that could use some more player movement-related excitement.


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Summer Guide: The top restaurants and bars for before and after Baltimore Orioles games

Summer Guide: The top restaurants and bars for before and after Baltimore Orioles games

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

With summer 2019 halfway through and baseball in full swing, it's time to highlight the go-to spots to eat and drink around the ballpark that forever changed baseball. 

In no particular order, consider these: 

Pickles Pub, 520 Washington Blvd, Baltimore, MD 21230

  • Across the street from Oriole Park at Camden Yards
  • Always packed, it's the number one go-to bar for Orioles fans before and after the games 
  • A dozen beers on tap, both local and national brands
  • Great deals throughout baseball season

Sliders Bar and Grille, 504 Washington Blvd, Baltimore, MD 21230

  • Another bar adjacent to Camden Yards
  • Less crowded than Pickles, but just as good when it comes to snacks and drinks
  • Bottle, canned, and draft beer options
  • Gameday specials built around the Orioles season

Abbey Burger Bistro, 1041 Marshall St, Baltimore, MD 21230

  • A bit further (about a mile walk) but well worth it
  • Famous for, you guessed it, their wide selection of crafted hamburgers
  • Endorsed by Oriole legend Adam Jones, who even created a burger for their menu
  • Also make spiked milkshakes for adults looking to cool off with a tasty treat

The Yard, 110 S Eutaw St, Baltimore, MD 21201

  • Inside the Marriott Inner Harbor 
  • Quieter, less-crowded option compared to more popular pregame locations
  • Crab-based breakfast options for fans looking for an early start

Camden Pub, 647 W. Pratt St, Baltimore, MD 21201

  • Two blocks from Camden Yards
  • Special discounts with game tickets
  • Variety of food options, including well-known wings

Quigley's Half Irish Pub, 633 Portland St, Baltimore, MD 21230

  • Federal Hill location, a block away from the stadium
  • Another less-crowded option, with standard bar fare
  • Just as likely to host baseball fans and neighborhood regulars alike

Pratt Street Ale House, 206 W Pratt St, Baltimore, MD 21201

  • Three blocks from Oriole Park at Camden Yards 
  • Dozens of beer options, plus signature cocktails and wine choices aplenty
  • Well-known nightlife spot for postgame celebrations

Seafood Options:

L.P. Steamers, 1100 E Fort Ave, Baltimore, MD 21230

  • Have to drive instead of walk (9 minutes by car)
  • Considered a go-to spot for Maryland-style seafood 
  • Mentioned specifically by Manny Machado upon his return to Baltimore

Phillips Seafood, 601 E. Pratt Street, Baltimore, MD 21202

  • 20-minute walk to Camden Yards, right in the heart of the Inner Harbor
  • Huge letters outside the building a part of the local skyline
  • Famous for their crabcakes, but serve all kinds of seafood and non-seafood options

Rusty Scupper, 402 Key Highway, Inner Harbor Marina, Baltimore, MD 21230

  • Another slightly further, pricier option for local seafood
  • Beautiful view right on the water
  • Live patio entertainment
  • Happy hour from 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. every Monday through Friday

Postgame Dessert Options:

Insomnia Cookies, Federal Hill, 1059 S Charles St, Baltimore, MD 21230

  • 20-minute walk from the stadium
  • Wide variety of deluxe cookie options, plus brownies, ice cream, cake and dessert sandwiches
  • Open until 3 a.m. every night

Polar Roll Creamery, 600 E Pratt St Suite 105, Baltimore, MD 21202

  • 20-minutes from Camden Yards, on the Inner Harbor 
  • Rolled ice cream
  • Watch yourserver roll the ice cream in front of you