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No. 7 Georgia wary of letdown against Ole Miss

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No. 7 Georgia wary of letdown against Ole Miss

ATHENS, Ga. (AP) Tavarres King scoffs at the idea Georgia players could have difficulty playing with the same intensity in Saturday's game against Mississippi that they showed in last week's upset of then-No. 3 Florida.

The 17-9 win over the Gators gave No. 7 Georgia control of the Southeastern Conference's Eastern Division. To earn a repeat trip to the SEC championship game, quarterback Aaron Murray and the Bulldogs (7-1, 5-1) must beat Ole Miss (5-3, 2-2) and then win at Auburn next week.

King, the senior receiver, says Georgia's control of its fate in the division is a precious prize and ample incentive against the Rebels.

King had a quick answer when asked if Georgia players had more motivation last week than against Ole Miss.

``Heck no,'' King said. ``It is ours. We know that. We want it to stay ours.''

The high-scoring Rebels, with their fast-paced, no-huddle offense, could be a dangerous opponent for even a properly motivated Georgia team.

Ole Miss will be playing to extend a two-game winning streak and qualify for a bowl in coach Hugh Freeze's first season.

The Rebels scored a combined 71 points in back-to-back wins over Auburn and Arkansas. Georgia also runs a no-huddle offense, but coach Mark Richt said Ole Miss, led by quarterback Bo Wallace, runs the offense at a faster pace.

``They just have a really good offensive package and a good scheme,'' Richt said. ``It's a challenging, balanced attack. They're very high tempo and you have to get lined up in a hurry when you play these guys. They'll sub some, but to go as fast as they go, they're doing it without doing a lot of subbing at times.

``Our biggest challenge is just going to be to line up and get ready because they've caught a lot of people not being ready and they've taken advantage of that.''

Georgia's defense re-emerged in the win over Florida after a string of shaky performances, including an ugly 35-7 loss to South Carolina. Players and coaches said the main problem on defense before the Florida game had been poor communication and difficulty having all players in the proper alignment.

There will be little time for communication on defense against the Rebels.

Freeze said running the no-huddle offense can be a gamble if the Rebels are stopped on three downs. Quick punts can put too much pressure on Mississippi's defense against a balanced Georgia offense.

Freeze said ``it is very tempting'' to make a full commitment to the high-tempo pace, but he said he has to remain aware of the risks.

``These games are so long,'' Freeze said. ``When you're playing teams like Georgia, who has those receivers and running backs, every time they touch it you hold your breath thinking they could score. I have a defensive staff that will hope you can slow this one down a little bit. It's a balancing act.''

Freeze said he will have only about 64 healthy players against Georgia.

``If we were a little deeper in the secondary and at defensive end, it would be even more tempting,'' he said. ``It's still tempting. It's not going to be effective all of the time, and you know when it's not effective you're going to be out there a span of about 40-45 seconds. Certainly Georgia has the type of players and coaches that are going to make it unsuccessful at times. ... I'm not confident that we're deep enough to go score 60 against Georgia to win a game.''

Wallace set career highs with 29 completions and 37 attempts and passed for 278 yards with a touchdown in the 30-27 win at Arkansas.

The Rebels, who are averaging 32.4 points, already have surpassed their 2011 totals for wins, total yards, points and yards passing.

Murray threw three interceptions as the Georgia offense struggled against Florida.

``Definitely some errors,'' Murray said. ``A lot of it had to do with my footwork. I wasn't balanced. That was something I prided myself on in the offseason and in camp on getting better on, and I might have taken a slight step backward in that category this past week.''

The Bulldogs haven't regained their momentum after scoring 40 or more points in their first five games.

The offense took a hit when leading receiver Michael Bennett was lost with a right knee injury early in October. Murray still has a deep group of receivers, especially with Malcolm Mitchell becoming more comfortable in his return to offense after opening the season at cornerback.

Mitchell had five catches for 74 yards, including Murray's only touchdown pass, against Florida.

Freshman tailback Todd Gurley, who ran for 118 yards and a touchdown against Florida, is on pace to top 1,000 yards.

``Once we get our passing back on track like it was at the start of the season, and have him running the way he does, I expect we'll hit on all cylinders and have those 40 and 50-point games like we did at the start of the season,'' Murray said.

Keith Marshall, another freshman, is the other half of the ``Gurshall'' duo.

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Right call, bad rule: Ovechkin's disallowed goal shows the ridiculous standard of goalie interference

Right call, bad rule: Ovechkin's disallowed goal shows the ridiculous standard of goalie interference

Alex Ovechkin thought he had tied Game 6 in the third period as he came streaking in trying to poke a loose puck into the net. As the puck crossed the goal line and Ovechkin celebrated with his teammates, the referee paused a moment, surrounded by Carolina Hurricanes players, then waved his arms. No goal.

The call proved to be one of the pivotal moments of Washington’s Game 6 loss and the Caps never recovered. Instead of tying the game at 3 and stealing momentum away from the Hurricanes, the Caps allowed two more goals to Carolina for the exclamation as the Hurricanes forced Game 7.

Evgeny Kuznetsov skated past the net with the puck, put on the brakes and tried to curl the puck back into the net to catch Mrazek off-guard. Mrazek had the puck between his pads and turned, but Ovechkin saw a loose puck, came in and pushed it into the net. The referee waved it off almost immediately.

“We make a push, we scored a goal – I think it was clear,” Ovechkin said, “But again, it's on referee decisions and they made decisions.”

The play was a frustrating one not just because of its importance, but because the Caps were not exactly sure why the goal was disallowed in the first place.

“It’s kind of unclear for me as well right now,” Todd Reirden told the media after the game. 
“As playoffs go on there’s not a lot of communication between the refs and the coaches as there is during the regular season. They made their decision and it really wasn’t up for debate. They don’t have to come and give you a reason why and they did not come to the bench and tell me why.”

The problem is that Ovechkin caught the pad of Mrazek while going for the puck resulting in incidental contact. That was enough to disallow the goal. The Caps challenged, but the call was upheld.

The NHL released the following explanation of the call:

At 10:34 of third period in the Capitals/Hurricanes game, Washington requested a Coach’s Challenge to review the “Interference on the Goalkeeper” decision that resulted in a “no goal” call.

After reviewing all available replays and consulting with the Referee, the Situation Room confirmed that Alex Ovechkin interfered with Petr Mrazek by pushing his pad, which caused the puck to enter the net. According to Rule 69.3, “If an attacking player initiates contact with a goalkeeper, incidental or otherwise, while the goalkeeper is in his goal crease, and a goal is scored, the goal will be disallowed.”

Therefore, the original call is upheld – no goal Washington Capitals.

By the letter of the law, this is the correct call. Mrazek was in the crease and you cannot argue Ovechkin did not make contact with Mrazek’s pad. While he was clearly going for the puck and not attempting to push Mrazek, it is irrelevant as the rule states even incidental contact will result in a no goal call.

Here’s the problem: This is a dumb rule. To say any contact with a goalie in the crease will result in a disallowed goal is a ridiculously strict standard that does not take into account battles over loose pucks that literally happen multiple times in every game.

“I saw the puck,” Ovechkin said. “He didn't get it in control. He didn't see that, so I don't know what the referee saw or what the explanation was.”

“From our angle from the bench it looked like the puck was loose,” Reirden said. “We talked with our video staff and they felt like it was worth a challenge in that situation. That’s not how the league or the referees saw it and that’s a decision they made. But for us, we thought the puck was loose. It was still a puck that was in play.”

But if even incidental contact can result in no goal, there is almost no way for a player to battle for a loose puck in the crease because he almost certainly will make contact with the goalie.

That puck was loose. It was in between Mrazek’s pads and it was loose. Ovechkin should be allowed to battle for the puck, but he can’t.

"If he has it covered, you can't push him in,” Brooks Orpik said, “But we didn't think he had it covered and if he doesn't have it covered usually you can get in there and it is fair game and it is kind of like a rebound.”

Rebounds are a part of hockey. Battles for loose pucks are a part of hockey. Pretending like this never happens in the crease is absurd.

If the rule stated that you cannot make intentional contact with a goalie within the crease, that is understandable. If the debate was over whether or not Ovechkin was going for the puck or intentionally pushing Mrazek’s pads, that is understandable. The fact that this goal was disallowed because Ovechkin is not able to battle for a puck that was clearly loose is an insane standard.

The Caps were upset after Game 6 over the disallowed goal and they should be. But it wasn’t a bad call that screwed them, it was a bad rule.

"What I can say?” Ovechkin said. “They make a call. It's on them, so it's over."

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For the third time this season, the Orioles have put a position player on the mound

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For the third time this season, the Orioles have put a position player on the mound

It is rarely a good situation when a team has a position player take the mound. Usually, it's because one team is losing by plenty of runs, and don't want to waste a bullpen arm on a game that has already been decided.

For the Orioles, a lot more has gone wrong than right thus far in 2019. They are 1-10 at home, and only two teams in all of baseball have a worse overall record.

On Monday, Baltimore was blown out by the Chicago White Sox, 12-2, behind three different four-run innings. With the game well in hand, the Orioles put catcher Jesus Sucre on the mound to pitch the ninth.

It's the third time Baltimore has used a position player to pitch this season. It's the second time in three days, as Chris Davis took the mound for the Orioles on Saturday. The 2019 season is just barely over three weeks old.

No matter how bad Baltimore was expected to be, this situation is never ideal.

Sucre did pitch a scoreless ninth, however. The next time the Orioles are in a lopsided game, don't be surprised if he takes the mound again.

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