Capitals

No. 25 Utah State aiming even higher against Idaho

No. 25 Utah State aiming even higher against Idaho

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) The Utah State Aggies already have had quite the week.

They went on the road to beat a nationally ranked team in overtime then arrived back in Logan to the cheers of several hundred fans who didn't mind waiting in the rain.

Now, after earning a spot in the AP poll for the first time since 1961, the 25th-ranked Aggies have a chance to make more history in Saturday's regular-season finale against Idaho.

``There are a lot of `nevers' out there,'' said coach Gary Andersen, who was moved to tears after his Aggies beat high-powered Louisiana Tech last weekend to guarantee at least a share of the Western Athletic Conference crown.

``There are a lot of things that they can do that have never happened in the history of Utah State football. That's pretty special.''

The Aggies (9-2, 5-0) can secure the program's first 10-win season and first 6-0 mark in conference play.

Though they are 39-point favorites against Idaho (1-10, 1-4), history has taught Utah State not to take anything for granted.

Last year they needed double-overtime to beat the Vandals in Moscow, prevailing 49-42 on Robert Turbin's 2-yard TD run.

``Idaho is going to come in here prepared to play,'' Andersen said.

Just as the Aggies have much on the line, so do the Vandals, who have played the last three games under interim coach Jason Gesse, who is making a pitch to keep the job.

``Kids want to beat the champion,'' Andersen said. ``It's always a driving force for competitive kids.''

Utah State is eligible to play in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl for the second straight year, but another win conceivably could vault the Aggies to a bigger postseason payout.

``We couldn't ask for much more out of our season, but we still have goals in front of us,'' Utah State quarterback Chuckie Keeton said of winning the WAC title outright, then a bowl game.

Keeton entered the week ranked 11th in the nation in total offense (321.6 yards per game) and 25th in passing (273.3). Now he faces an Idaho defense that is allowing 42.2 points and 493.3 yards a game. He needs 258 yards passing to break Utah State's single-season record.

Utah coach Kyle Whittingham certainly knows what Keeton can do, having lost to the Aggies in early September in a game that saw the sophomore QB complete 22 of 32 passes for 216 yards and two TDs and rush for what then was a career-high 86 yards.

``He is just like the dual-threat quarterbacks we faced this year (in the Pac-12),'' Whittingham said, drawing comparisons to the most recent opposing QB, Arizona's Matt Scott.

``On those zone reads, if (Scott) doesn't have the speed and athleticism to get around the edge, we make the tackle for no gain or (a loss) instead of a ... 20-yard gain,'' Whittingham said. ``That's a huge difference to have that element in your offense. He's surrounded by a good back, good receiver ... it's not just him. But (Keeton) certainly is the catalyst that makes it go.''

The other is senior running back Kerwynn Williams, who ranks 10th in the nation in all-purpose yardage (164.3) and is one of 19 seniors playing his final home game.

Then there's Andersen, who has been asked if Saturday will be his final game as Aggies coach, considering all the times his name pops up for a vacancy.

``I get that 24/7, but my love has been Utah for a long time,'' said Andersen, who recently signed a contract extension to keep him in Logan through 2018.

He said there are no guarantees for anything in life, especially coaching, ``But I love where I'm at and expect to be here for a long period of time.''

Andersen said he knew this was a special group after the 6-3 road loss to Brigham Young before the Aggies went on their five-game winning streak.

``That was a tough loss and the way those kids bounced back and prepared as early as that Monday made me take a step back and realize how much it truly meant to them, how important it was for them to break the huddle every day they walked off the practice field and say `WAC Champs,''' Andersen said.

Now the title is official. The Aggies just want it all by themselves.

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The NHL salary cap numbers are in, what does it mean for the Caps?

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USA TODAY Sports

The NHL salary cap numbers are in, what does it mean for the Caps?

The NHL released the salary cap range for the 2018-19 season on Thursday. That sound you hear is the general managers frantically typing numbers into adding machines to figure out which of their players they can afford and which they are going to have to let walk.

The cap ceiling will rise from last year's $75 million all the way up to $79.5 million with the cap floor set at $58.8 million.

So what does this mean for the Capitals?

Here's a look at the team's pending free agents:

Unrestricted free agents: Jay Beagle, John Carlson, Alex Chiasson, Tyler Graovac, Jakub Jerabek, Michal Kempny, Anthony Peluso, Zach Sill, Wayne Simpson

Restricted free agents: Riley Barber, Madison Bowey, Travis Boyd, Adam Carlson, Philipp Grubauer, Tim McGauley, Liam O'Brien, Devante Smith-Pelly, Tom Wilson

We will not know exactly who will make the roster, so to project how much money the Caps will have to work with, let's assume Nathan Walker makes the team and Shane Gersich goes to the AHL. That will give the Caps a little less than $14.8 million with which to work.

Considering the team will need to use about half of that number if not more to re-sign Carlson, that's not a whole lot to work with.

Is $7 million enough to re-sign Beagle, Kempny, Bowey, Smith-Pelly and Wilson? Probably not and that does not even account for prospects who will try to compete for the NHL roster such as Barber and Boyd.

Here's what the cap ceiling tells us:

  • The team's entire offseason will depend on if the team can re-sign Carlson and for how much.
  • Carlson's cap hit last season was just under $4 million. A $4.5 million increase in the salary cap ceiling doesn't mean much when Carlson is going to get a raise of $3 million or more.
  • Grubauer will almost certainly be traded because he is an asset and because there won't be enough money for the team to commit $1.5 million or more to the backup goalie like they did last season.
  • If Carlson returns, fan favorite Beagle has almost certainly played his last game as a Cap. Everyone wants him back, but he would have to take a severe discount for the Caps to fit him and even then, he would be taking away a roster spot from a young prospect ready to make the jump to the NHL.

Free agency opens July 1.

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Derrius Guice continues to ingratiate himself with Redskins fans with new fundraising effort

Derrius Guice continues to ingratiate himself with Redskins fans with new fundraising effort

For most college players, being a part of the NFL Draft experience is a dream come true, but for Derrius Guice, it was becoming a nightmare. Originally projected as a first round pick, Guice saw his name falling fast on draft boards due to questions raised about his maturity and high-maintenance personality.

Two months removed from the Redskins selecting him 59th overall, Guice has erased any doubt regarding his character. Whether it be taking fans out to the movies, shooting the breeze while signing autographs, or even the occasional leap frog over two practice barrels and a trainer, Guice has ingrained himself as a Redskins fan favorite. He's done a great job at making himself popular, now he's focused on making change for others. 

On June 20th, a day before his birthday, Guice announced he would be running a fundraiser for the Mary Bird Perkins center, a cancer foundation in his hometown of Baton Rouge. Inspired by his best friend's mother who "rang that bell,"—an indication that a patient has beaten cancer—Guice wants to help others do the same. 

Guice has utilized his newfound popularity to entice other peope to donate. If you donate $5, you can play him in Fortnite. For $50, you guys can go bowling together. Anyone willing to donate $100 or more will be entered in a raffle for tickets to the Redskins Monday Night Football game against the Saints. 

If Guice can match his off the field popularity with on the field production, he'll be in contention for Rookie of the Year. Anyone interested in donating can click here