Nationals

No. 8 Stanford balancing studies with Rose Bowl

No. 8 Stanford balancing studies with Rose Bowl

STANFORD, Calif. (AP) Kevin Hogan hustled off the practice field Tuesday morning, changed out of his sweaty Stanford football jersey and headed across campus for his most important meeting: a Spanish test.

Forgive the Cardinal quarterback if he's short on words - or mixing up his languages.

For the third straight season on The Farm, the year's biggest exams fall on the same week. Not only are the eighth-ranked Cardinal (11-2) finishing finals in the classroom, the Pac-12 champions are beginning preparations for the Jan. 1 Rose Bowl against Big Ten winner Wisconsin (8-5).

``We're used to it by now,'' Hogan said. ``We've been through this already.''

After playing in the Orange Bowl and Fiesta Bowl the past two seasons, the experience still doesn't make the work any easier on or off the field at the rigorous academics university.

Players had last week off during a ``dead week'' of school, when students don't have class but hunker down for exams. Hogan, a redshirt freshman who has yet to declare his major, has another final Friday in Earth Systems before he can fully invest his time in football.

Same goes for most of his teammates.

Hogan still gathered his wide receivers and tight ends during the off week to run routes and stay in game shape. Others have been recovering from the bumps and bruises of the season since beating UCLA 27-24 in the league title game on Nov. 30.

``I think it's just balancing, finding the right combination of being prepared but not overthinking everything,'' linebacker Shayne Skov said. ``I think with any sort of important moment in your life you want to be thorough, you want to be ready, but you also don't want to overdo things and put any undue stress on yourself.''

Stanford coach David Shaw and his staff hit the recruiting trail from coast to coast while also beginning to game plan for the Badgers.

Wisconsin added a wrinkle to that preparation when Bret Bielema surprisingly left to become the new Arkansas coach. Badgers athletic director Barry Alvarez, the coach from 1990 through 2005, will return to the sidelines for the Rose Bowl before he hires a replacement.

Shaw said that changed ``nothing'' other than the hand he will shake following the game.

``We have to compartmentalize,'' Shaw said. ``They're a prideful group. As long as Montee Ball is back there at running back, I expect to see the same Wisconsin team.''

---

NOTES: Shaw huddled players after practice to recognize David Yankey for winning the Morris Trophy, given annually to the Pac-12's most outstanding offensive and defensive linemen. Arizona State DT Will Sutton won on the defensive side. Yankey shuffled from left tackle to his more natural guard position to anchor a young offensive line this season. The junior will return for his senior season and is expected to be a high pick in the 2014 NFL draft. ``I haven't seen everybody. But from what I've seen, he might be the best guard in the country right now,'' Shaw said. ``We hope he can just play guard next season.'' ... Zach Ertz said he was disappointed that he didn't win the Mackey Award, given to the nation's top tight end. He also said former Stanford TE Coby Fleener, who was snubbed last year before being drafted 34th overall by the Indianapolis Colts, reached out to him following the announcement. Notre Dame's Tyler Eifer took home the award. Eifer had 44 receptions for 624 yards and four touchdowns. Ertz had 66 catches for 837 yards and six touchdowns, including the winning score against then-No. 2 Southern California and the tying touchdown to force overtime in a win at top-ranked Oregon. ... Stanford will leave for Pasadena on Dec. 26.

---

Antonio Gonzalez can be reached at: www.twitter.com/agonzalezAP

Quick Links

Nationals power through rain delay, come back against Phillies

usatsi_10908133.jpg
USA Today

Nationals power through rain delay, come back against Phillies

WASHINGTON -- Daniel Murphy's two-run single drove in the tying and go-ahead runs in the eighth inning and the Washington Nationals rallied past the Philadelphia Phillies 8-6 on Sunday night to salvage the finale of the three-game series.

Anthony Rendon homered and doubled, Bryce Harper tied a career high with three doubles and Michael A. Taylor and Murphy each had three singles in a game that was delayed 38 minutes by rain in the bottom of the fourth inning.

Rhys Hoskins and Nick Williams homered for the Phillies, who had won three straight.

Pinch hitter Brian Goodwin led off the eighth with a walk against Victor Arano. With one out, right-hander Seranthony Dominguez (1-2) came on to face Harper, who doubled to right, with Goodwin stopping at third.

After Rendon grounded out, Juan Soto was intentionally walked and Murphy lined a 1-2 pitch to shallow right. Taylor's single made it 8-6.

Ryan Madson (2-3) pitched the eighth inning, and Sean Doolittle finished it for his 21st save.

The Phillies took a 6-2 lead in the fifth on a two-run triple by Odubel Herrera and a two-run homer by Williams.

Washington pulled within a run at 6-5 in the sixth with four two-out hits, including an RBI triple by Trea Turner and RBI doubles by Harper and Rendon.

Nick Pivetta went five innings and allowed two runs on eight hits for the Phillies.

Washington starter Jefry Rodriguez was charged with four runs and five hits in four-plus innings.

The Phillies broke on top on Hoskins's two-run homer in the third.

Rendon made it 2-1 with a solo homer in the fourth. The next three hitters singled, tying the game, but with the rain intensifying, out came the tarp. When play resumed, Pivetta struck out three straight to end the inning.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Phillies: C Andrew Knapp left in the seventh with a right knee contusion. ... 3B Maikel Franco slipped on first base and fell hard in the eighth. He stayed in to run, but left after the half-inning. ... INF Jesmuel Valent?n was placed on the paternity leave list and OF Dylan Cozens (left quadriceps strain) was reinstated from the 10-day DL.

Nationals: RHP Jeremy Hellickson (right hamstring strain) allowed 11 runs in 4 2/3 innings of a rehab start at Class A Potomac on Sunday. "I'm more concerned with the way he feels," manager Dave Martinez said, downplaying the results. "We'll go from there." ... RH reliever Brandon Kintzler (right forearm flexor strain) threw a scoreless inning at Potomac. ... RHP Stephen Strasburg (right shoulder inflammation) played catch on the field again. "We'll keep doing his throwing progression and figure out when he can actually throw from the mound," Martinez said.

UP NEXT

Phillies: RHP Vince Velasquez (5-7, 4.82) starts the opener of a series against the Yankees on Monday. He is 0-0 with a 3.24 ERA in two games vs. New York.

Nationals: RHP Gio Gonzalez (6-4, 3.08) opens a series at Tampa Bay on Monday. He is 2-2 with a 5.54 ERA in six games against the Rays.

Quick Links

Jay Gruden wants excellent play from Alex Smith, but he also expects personal responsibility

smith_gruden_usat.jpg
USA TODAY Sports

Jay Gruden wants excellent play from Alex Smith, but he also expects personal responsibility

As June minicamp concluded, Redskins head coach Jay Gruden pulled no punches when asked about expectations for new quarterback Alex Smith. 

"He has got to get it down by the first game," Gruden said of Smith. 

While that might not sound overly demanding, remember this is Smith's first season in Washington. The QB will be playing with new teammates and implementing new terminology. 

Still, Smith is a veteran with a lot of experience, and frankly, it seems like Gruden isn't worried about a transition period. 

"We are not in here to build the team around him, the team is built and he has to lead it like right now," the coach said. "This isn’t a two- or three-year process. This is a one-year process and we have got to win right away."

Gruden made things quite clear. He expects the best from Smith, yesterday. 

Those comments created headlines, but there was something else the coach said about his passer that also stood out. Asked about Smith's veteran presence, Gruden talked about what the quarterback might mean for his teammates. 

"The whole job a quarterback has is obviously getting the most out of the people around you. That’s what I think he does as good as anybody," Gruden said. "He’ll get the most out of the tight ends. He’ll get the most out of the backs."

The coach continued, and things got a bit more interesting.

"He’ll get the most out of the receivers and offensive line because they’re going to want to play for him and they’re going to feel confident that he’s going to make something happen in a positive way or at least give it everything he’s got and take responsibility if something doesn’t work out."

Redskins fans are often a weirdly divided bunch. Many liked former QB Kirk Cousins but plenty did not think he was worth the type of money he was paid the last two seasons. Along the way, some fans will read Gruden's comments about making something happen and taking responsibility as a jab at Cousins. That's probably wrong. 

Remember, Trent Williams played through a serious knee injury last season. Asked why, Williams said he wanted to be out there to protect Cousins. Guys played for Cousins. 

The responsibility comment might mean something else, though. Their was a rather hostile back-and-forth last season between Gruden and Cousins last season, when the QB and coach disagreed about taking more risks with the football. A quick reminder of the scene: Cousins told a reporter that he would throw 20 interceptions if he played like Gruden wanted. The coach responded that while the interceptions might pile up, the QB would also throw 60 touchdowns. (Relive it here)

Throughout his career, Smith has thrown less interceptions than Cousins. But that doesn't mean Smith doesn't take risks or put his receivers in position to make plays. 

It's entirely possible Gruden simply expects Smith, a veteran, to be a responsible player and leader. And it's likely that comment had nothing to do with the Redskins previous quarterbacks. 

The bottom line is that Smith better be ready to go Week 1, and his coach made that clear. And if Smith isn't, Gruden expects his quarterback to take responsibility. 

MORE REDSKINS NEWS:

— Contract years: Redskins face 5 tough decisions 

— Dead Money: Trades, misses and mistakes hurt Redskins salary cap

#REDSKINSTALK PODCAST

Don't forget to subscribe to the #RedskinsTalk podcast, hosted by JP Finlay.

Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcastshere for Google Play or press play below.