Redskins

No. 4 Bama gets bounce-back game against FCS WCU

No. 4 Bama gets bounce-back game against FCS WCU

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) Western Carolina coach Mark Speir has dealt with some of the challenges Alabama faced in recent years as the team everyone badly wants to beat.

It makes Saturdays that much harder, if decidedly less daunting than taking a 1-9 Football Championship Subdivision team to face the fourth-ranked Crimson Tide (9-1), which is coming off its first loss of the season.

Speir was an assistant on the Appalachian State teams that won three consecutive FCS titles from 2005-07.

``Getting this kind of loss late, it can cripple a national championship,'' said Speir, ending his first season leading Western Carolina. ``But the thing about Nick Saban, whether you like him or not, he's one of the best in the business, of all-time.

``He's a guy that it doesn't matter if they're going to play the Green Bay Packers or Western Carolina University or Smoky Mountain Middle School. He's going to prepare that team the very best he can.''

Given the obvious mismatch, this might be the fourth most important game of the day for Alabama, which fell 29-24 to No. 9 Texas A&M last weekend after 10 weeks atop the rankings.

Later, No. 1 Oregon faces No. 14 Stanford, No. 2 Kansas State visits Baylor and No. 3 Notre Dame meets Wake Forest. In those games, at least, the Tide will be cheering for the underdogs.

Two of those unbeaten teams will likely have to lose for Alabama to play for a third national title in four years in Miami.

``We're just focused on now and what we have ahead, not on Miami,'' Tide tailback Eddie Lacy said. ``If we take care of everything, Miami will take care of itself.''

That means beating Western Carolina and Auburn and then No. 5 Georgia in the SEC championship game. The Tide would earn a berth in Atlanta with a victory over the Tigers.

The next order of business is restoring order to a program that barely beat LSU and lost to the Aggies.

``We have an opportunity now to prove that we are and can be a good football team,'' Saban said. ``That's what we want to focus on. That's all we want to talk about. We are looking forward.

``The only thing that we can gain from the past is lessons learned, for all of us, in terms of what we can do better, what we need to do better and what everybody has to make a commitment to in terms of trying to do better and accomplish something significant with what is left of this season with this team.''

The Tide now faces an FCS team with two wins in the past two seasons. The Catamounts have lost all 13 games against SEC schools by an average of 47-4.

Alabama handily won the two previous meetings with Western Carolina, including a 52-6 victory in Saban's first game with the Tide five years ago.

Western Carolina hasn't beaten a Division I (FCS or FBS) team since topping The Citadel on Oct. 2, 2010.

Speir has still tasted both the joys and challenges success creates during his tenure at Appalachian State, which included an upset of No. 5 Michigan in 2007 on the same day as Saban's Alabama debut.

``It just gets harder and harder and harder because you have a huge target,'' Speir said. ``You get every team's very best shot. You get every trick play on special teams. You get every trick play on offense, especially in the SEC. It's just hard to do what they've done.''

Tide quarterback AJ McCarron said the team's attitude in practice has been positive after the loss.

``That's one good thing about this team,'' said McCarron, who was intercepted twice against Texas A&M. ``You can't worry about things that happened in the past. You can't control that. Got to move on. We got to win out, take care of business and, you know, just control what we can control.''

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Need to Know: The best running backs the Redskins will face in 2018

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Need to Know: The best running backs the Redskins will face in 2018

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, July 18, eight days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

The five best running backs the Redskins will face in 2018

This week we’ll be looking at the best of what the Redskins will face during the 2018 season. Today the running backs are up. They are roughly ranked 2017 rushing yards, although I did some juggling based on offseason moves and other factors. Prior to this, we looked at the best teamsreceivers, and quarterbacks

Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys—He actually finished 10thin the league in rushing yards behind two backs who will face the Redskins. Elliott gets boosted up the list because he was suspended for six games last year. He averaged 98 yards per game played and had he been able to play in 16 games he would have led the league in rushing yards with over 300 yards to spare. In three games against the Redskins, he has averaged 110 yards per game and he has five touchdowns. The Redskins’ revamped rushing defense will be tested twice.

Mark Ingram, Saints—He will be coming off of a four-game suspension for Redskins vs. Saints in Week 5. Will he be rested or rusty? If he’s in any kind of form, the Redskins defense will have to be on its game. Last year against Washington in the Superdome Ingram rushed for 134 yards and a touchdown on just 11 carries. 

Leonard Fournette, Jaguars—The rookie did surpass the thousand-yard mark, posting 1,040. Some pointed out that it wasn’t a consistent effort as he gained 310 yards, almost 30 percent of his total, in two back-to-back games in Weeks 5 and 6. That’s fine but he still is a difficult opponent with his combination of size and speed. I look for him to have a big breakout this year. 

Dion Lewis/Derrick Henry, Titans—Lewis averaged 5.0 yards per carry with the Patriots last year and Henry gained 744 yards while sharing time with the now-retired DeMarco Murray. Lewis will play a lot of third downs and will spell Henry sometimes early in games. That will leave the 6-3, 247-pound Henry fresh to grind up the clock if the Titans have a late lead. 

Jay Ajayi, Eagles—Nobody has quite figured out why the Dolphins dealt him to the Eagles in midseason, but Philly was more than happy to add him to the offense. Ajayi became a workhorse in the postseason with 42 rushing attempts and six receptions in three games. 

I do need to mention Giants rookie Saquan Barkley here. I have to think that the second overall pick of the draft will rank somewhere on this list but without seeing him in an NFL uniform yet it’s hard to rank him. He will be dangerous, no doubt. 

Best of the rest: Lamar Miller, Texans, Alvin Kamara, Saints, Ronald Jones, Bucs

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler

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Timeline 

Former Redskins offensive tackle Geroge Starke, one of the original Hogs, was born on this date in 1948.

Days until:

—Training camp starts (7/26) 8
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 22
—Roster cut to 53 (9/1) 45

The Redskins last played a game 199 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 53 days. 

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A quick recap of Tuesday's MLB All-Star Game, including how your Nats did

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A quick recap of Tuesday's MLB All-Star Game, including how your Nats did

Tuesday evening's All-Star game was fairly uneventful until its later innings. The American League triumphed over the National League, 8 - 6, for their sixth straight All-Star game victory.

Despite fears of potential rain and inclement weather delaying the game, there were no unexpected stops in play. 

The AL started very strong offensively, with runs from Aaron Judge and Mike Trout in the top of the second and third innings, respectively. Jean Segura's three-run homer in the top of the eighth made victory look inevitable for the AL by the fifth. 

Max Scherzer, unsurprisingly, was well received among fans at Nationals Park. The Nats starter pitched the first two innings, giving up four hits. One was Judge's second-inning homer, but Scherzer remained unfazed and lighthearted. Four strikeouts made his performance commendable.

Bryce Harper did not get on as well, striking out in both of his at-bats. After Harper's Home Run Derby Win last night, there was chatter of him going for the MVP title as well. 

It didn't work out, but given Harper's consistent presence at the All-Star game, there's always another chance.

Elsewhere in the dugout for the NL, who rallied back from the three-run deficit, the kids were all right. Willson Contreras of the Cubs had a solo homer at the bottom of the third, the Rockies' Trevor Story had one in the seventh, and Christian Yelich added another in the eighth. A two-run homer by Scooter Gennett in the bottom of the ninth brought the game back to a 5-5 tie.

Jesus Aguilar struck out for the NL, and extra innings began.

In the top of the tenth, Alex Bregman and George Springer, both of the Astros, hit home runs almost immediately off of Dodgers pitcher Ross Stipling. Stop us if you've heard that one before.

With no outs, Michael Brantley took a sacrifice flyout to right field, and Jean Segura got in one more run to put the score at 8-5.

Though Joey Votto (Reds) hit one last home run in the bottom of the tenth, the NL couldn't quite make up the deficit.

After a late night, the American League will be going home happy.

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