No. 8 Florida looks to bounce back against Mizzou


No. 8 Florida looks to bounce back against Mizzou

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) This was supposed to be a celebratory week at Florida.

The Gators expected to beat rival Georgia, clinch a spot in the Southeastern Conference championship game and then worry about staying undefeated against Missouri.

Six turnovers changed everything.

The mistake-prone Gators lost 17-9 to the Bulldogs, leaving them in an unenviable position of trying to regroup from a setback that likely will prevent them from playing for a title.

How will No. 8 Florida (7-1, 6-1 SEC) respond? Coach Will Muschamp and everyone else will find out Saturday when the Gators host conference newcomer Missouri (4-4, 1-4).

``The tough thing about football is you have to wait seven days,'' Muschamp said.

Florida probably could use the extra time to work on its offense. The Gators rank 100th in the nation in total offense, have the worst passing attack in the league and have been fairly predictable on first down.

And for the first time this season, the Gators acknowledged that they don't have a big-play receiver and that the offensive line has protection issues.

``Last game wasn't our best performance,'' center Jon Harrison said. ``I just know we're going to bounce back this Saturday and make sure everyone is fundamentally sound. You guys won't see that anymore out of the offensive line.''

If the Gators don't shore things up, they could be in for another long day.

The Tigers have a formidable front led by defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson. They lead the nation in forced fumbles (17), using three of them to dominate Kentucky last week and get their first SEC victory.

``Confidence levels are up,'' Richardson said. ``For the most part, we are just out here trying to get another win. We want more than one win in the SEC, so we are trying to get another one.''

Quarterback James Franklin returns to the starting lineup for the Tigers after injuring his knee against Vanderbilt on Oct. 6, sitting out the following week's game against Alabama and then coming off the bench last week against the Wildcats.

Franklin, who also missed the Arizona State game in September because of a shoulder injury, has completed 62 percent of his passes for 821 yards. He has four touchdown passes and two interceptions, but can make plays with his feet.

He had limited mobility against Kentucky, but led the offense to scores on three of four possessions in the second half.

``We were very cautious with him,'' coach Gary Pinkel said. ``We tried not to play him, but he was released to play. He did a good job. He really has come around a long ways. We'll see how this week goes and we'll adjust accordingly game-plan wise.''

Florida, meanwhile, has dealt with a flu bug this week. Backup defensive tackle Leon Orr ended up in a hospital, and safety Matt Elam and several others missed practice because of illness.

Regardless, Muschamp expects his team to bounce back from the flu and last week's loss.

``We've got a mature bunch that's able to refocus and put it behind them,'' he said. ``You don't forget the loss. I don't want them to forget the loss. I want them to learn from it and use it as motivation. ... The bottom line is you have to refocus and move forward.

``You can't let it linger.''

The Gators can still win the Eastern Division, but they need help. They need either Mississippi (Saturday) or Auburn (next week) to upset Georgia.

If not, the Gators still could win out - they finish the season with Louisiana-Lafayette (4-3), Jacksonville State (5-3) and No. 9 Florida State (8-1) - and make the Sugar Bowl.

``We're just focusing on Florida right now, getting back to where we need to be,'' cornerback Marcus Roberson said.

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Michigan's Moritz Wagner could be Wizards' solution for a stretch-five

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Michigan's Moritz Wagner could be Wizards' solution for a stretch-five

The pre-draft workout process can be an exhausting journey for players, with so many flights, hotel rooms and NBA arenas that they can all blend in together. Michigan big man Moritz Wagner, though, may have felt a sense of comfort in Washington for his pre-draft workout for the Wizards on Wednesday.

It was just over a year ago that his Michigan Wolverines cut down the nets at Capital One Arena as champions of the Big Ten conference.

"It was good memories, man. Never gets old," he said while glancing around the stadium.

Wagner, 21, will be seeing a lot more of Capital One Arena once he joins the NBA ranks and it is conceivable he ends up in Washington. They hold the 15th pick in the first round and the 44th pick in the second round and Wagner could be within their reach.

Wagner had an impressive workout in Washington and could provide what the Wizards need. He is a big, mobile and can spread the floor. Wagner was terrific at stepping out to hit threes off pick-and-rolls at Michigan and that ability would work well with Wizards All-Star point guard John Wall.

Wagner measured in at just under 7-feet at this month's NBA Combine, fifth-tallest among those who attended. He averaged 14.6 points as a junior this past season and made 39.4 percent of his threes on 4.1 attempts per game.

With three years of college experience and an NBA-ready jumper, Wagner believes he can step right in and help the Wizards.

"I think what we did at Michigan, sharing the ball and playing as a team, very organized basketball, that can help big-time," he said. "It's basically pro basketball I was playing on a different level."

As Wagner will tell you, he is very confident in his abilities. He is comfortable in his own skin and that includes openly discussing his faults. He feels good about his ability to score at the next level. Defense is where he needs to prove himself.

Despite his size, Wagner wasn't much of a rim protector in college. He averaged just a half-block a game as a junior. The Wizards need rim protection badly and he likely would not provide that.

Wagner, though, believes he can bring more to the table defensively than the numbers would suggest.

"I think I've been an offensive guy all of my life, but the more that you mature as a player, you understand that both sides are important. Without defense, you aren't going to play at any level," he said.

"I think the most important thing that I wasn't able to show in college is that I'm able to switch the ball-screen, especially with the way the league is going. Switch on everything and stay in front of guards as a big guy."

Wagner is from Germany and looks up to Mavs legend Dirk Nowitzki, who is entering his 21st season and will be in the Hall of Fame someday. Nowitzki's game has always been built around shooting and, though he developed into a decent shot-blocker in his prime, was never an elite rim protector.

Wagner hopes to follow in his footsteps playing a similar style.

"He was my MJ. He kind of shows you 'okay, this is possible and this is doable.' It's just basketball," Wagner said. "It gives you a lot of hope. It gives you a lot of belief and motivation."

Hear more from Wagner in his one-on-one interview with Chris Miller in our latest Wizards Tipoff podcast. His interview can also be found in the video above:

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Believe it or not, this isn't the first D.C. vs. Vegas postseason matchup

Believe it or not, this isn't the first D.C. vs. Vegas postseason matchup

In what is perhaps the most unexpected Stanley Cup Final pairing in recent memory, the Washington Capitals and the Las Vegas Golden Knights are going to make history this year.

Either it is going to be the first expansion team to win a title in their first season, or it will be a team looking to end a 27-year title drought for one of the biggest cities in the United States.

But what it will not be is the first D.C. vs. Vegas postseason matchup.

Going even farther back than the Capitals last Stanley Cup appearance (1998), the Georgetown Hoyas and UNLV Rebels met in the 1991 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament.

Sin City took the first, and up until now, the only postseason bout between these two cities. The Larry Johnson-led University of Las Vegas squad powered right past the Hoyas in the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament.

[D.C. sports and Second Rounds, I know right?]

Coming fresh off the NCAA title in 1990, UNLV waltzed right to the Final Four before meeting their demise against Duke. It also ended up being the last game for Dikembe Mutombo in a Georgetown uniform.

While in all likely-hood this will not be the final game/ series for Alex Ovechkin rocking the red, it may be his last and only chance for him to play this far into a postseason.

In the past two seasons, Vegas has gone from zero professional teams to having a Stanley Cup contender, a WNBA franchise, and lined up to take over the Oakland Raiders in 2020. 

Now time for the Golden Knights' Cinderella story to come up a little bit short.