Redskins

Notre Dame coach Kelly begins BCS campaign

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Notre Dame coach Kelly begins BCS campaign

Brian Kelly waited until the end of the presidential election to start campaigning for a spot in the BCS title game.

The Notre Dame coach made his case on Sunday for a Top 2 spot in the polls that would allow the Fighting Irish (10-0) to play for a national championship. Oregon and Kansas State may be getting a lot of attention with their high-powered offenses, but Kelly said Notre Dame's defense is every bit as impressive.

``Each team has their own distinctions. The distinction of this football team is it's the No.1 scoring defense in the country,'' he said on a conference call with reporters a day after a 21-6 victory over Boston College helped the Irish move up to No. 3 in The Associated Press Top 25.

``It's proven that against very, very good teams all year. ... If you look at national championship-caliber football, you've got to look at a defense, and so that's why we feel strongly that our football team has put themselves in the discussion. We'll let others decide, but I think we've played our way into the discussion.''

Notre Dame had been the consensus No. 4 team in the country heading into the weekend, with only a remote chance at a national championship until top-ranked Alabama was upset by No. 15 Texas A&M on Saturday. The Irish moved up to No. 3 in the poll released Sunday, still behind new No. 1 Oregon and second-ranked Kansas State.

The Irish were expected to be third when the new BCS standings were released later Sunday.

Alabama dropped to fourth in the AP poll.

Although Kelly had resisted politicking for a better ranking, his new poll position proved too tempting. He said he voted for his own team No. 1 in the USA Today coaches' poll, up from No. 2 last week; it was the only first-place vote for the Irish, who were third in that poll as well.

Kelly's case is that the Irish have allowed 111 points in 10 games, tied with Alabama for fewest in the nation. He also pointed out that Notre Dame has played every game against an FBS foe; Oregon played Tennessee Tech, and Kansas State played Missouri State - both FCS division teams.

Notre Dame has beaten four teams that were ranked at the time the Irish played them: Michigan State and Oklahoma on the road and Michigan and Stanford at home.

The case against Notre Dame is that five of its wins have been by seven points or fewer, including a triple-overtime victory over unheralded Pittsburgh two weeks ago after the Panthers missed a 33-yard field goal to win it. Even the win over Boston College was uninspired: The Eagles are 2-8 and off to their worst start since 1989.

But Kelly noted that BC, the only other Catholic school in the FBS, failed to score a touchdown for the first time this season. Eagles quarterback Chase Rettig is among the national leaders with 2,803 yards passing and 16 touchdowns, but Notre Dame allowed just two field goals in the game.

``If you want style points, look at our defense, look at the schedule that we played: 10 FBS teams,'' Kelly said. ``I think it's pretty clear that this football team has been built around its defense, and we're lived up to that each and every week. We'll just keep working on one at a time and let other people figure out where that puts us.''

Kelly said two players came out of the Boston College game with injuries.

Receiver DeVaris Daniels had surgery on Sunday to repair a broken collarbone and will be out for three or four weeks. He will miss the rest of the regular season but would return for a bowl game, Kelly said.

Defensive back KeiVarae Russell had a head injury.

``It cleared up nicely,'' Kelly said. ``He looks to be on track for practice on Tuesday.''

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What are reasonable expectations for Colt McCoy? The numbers might surprise you

What are reasonable expectations for Colt McCoy? The numbers might surprise you

After the injury to Alex Smith, the Redskins shifted Colt McCoy to the top of their quarterback depth chart. A fan favorite that put out a good showing in relief against Houston, McCoy knows head coach Jay Gruden's offense inside and out. 

Still, it's been a long time since McCoy got significant playing time. In fact, it's been a long time since McCoy got any playing time. 

Kirk Cousins took every single snap of the 2016 and 2017 seasons. Every single one. In 2015, Cousins played the whole year, up until the second half of a Week 17 win in Dallas after the Redskins had already clinched their NFC East title. 

So to get a decent sample size to set expectations for McCoy, travel all the way back to 2014. That season was a dumpster fire for Washington. It was Gruden's first year as head coach and he was trying to figure out what do with Robert Griffin III, Kirk Cousins and McCoy. After RG3 got hurt, Cousins got the call, but he eventually got benched in a Week 7 game at home against the Titans. 

McCoy came in and led the Redskins to a 19-17 win. The Redskins trailed 10-6 at halftime, but on just the second snap of the second half, McCoy connected with Pierre Garçon for a 70-yard touchdown. 

He started the next four games for Washington before hurting his neck against the Giants and RG3 returning to the starting role. McCoy hasn't started a game since that season, but the numbers are worth digging into. 

In four starts in 2014, McCoy averaged a little more than 250 yards passing to go with four TDs against three INTs. He completed 71 percent of his passes while averaging more than 8.3 yards-per-attempt.

Washington went 1-3 in McCoy's four starts that year, but remember two things: He brought the Redskins back for a win against the Titans in a game he didn't start, and he didn't finish the second half of his fourth start after injuring his neck. 

Obviously the 2018 Redskins are quite different from the 2014 squad. This year, the 'Skins are in first place of the NFC East and have a real opportunity to host a playoff game, even after losing Smith to injury. 

In 10 starts this season, Smith averaged about 218 yards passing-per-game and completed 62.5 percent of his throws. He threw 10 TDs against five INTs, and averaged 6.6 yards-per-attempt. Washington had a 6-4 record in Smith's 10 starts.

Compare Smith's numbers with McCoy from 2014, and it could be reasonable to believe the offense will move the football a bit more with Colt at QB. Of course, the teams are very different, and much of 2018, the Redskins have been a run-first offense.

The comparison isn't exact, and it shouldn't be viewed as such. Regardless, the numbers exist to provide a baseline for expectations. 

The most memorable game of the 2014 season probably came when McCoy led the Redskins to an improbable win in Dallas on Monday Night Football. The Cowboys were 6-2 and Washington was on their third-string QB. Few thought the Redskins had a chance in that game, but McCoy delivered an accurate performance, completing 25 of 30 passes and a few key runs, and led his team to victory.

On Thursday, McCoy again gets a chance to lead the Redskins into JerryWorld on national television. Dallas has won two games in a row, and while Washington is a game ahead in the standings, oddsmakers have installed the Cowboys as 8-point favorites. 

Looking at McCoy's 2014 numbers to Smith's 2018 numbers, the backup has a chance to outproduce the starter.

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Alex Ovechkin, Carey Price put on a show with superstar showdown in Montreal

Alex Ovechkin, Carey Price put on a show with superstar showdown in Montreal

The best of the NHL was on display Monday in Montreal where the Capitals edged the Canadians 5-4 in overtime. Within the game, a superstar matchup emerged as the top goal scorer of his generation locked horns with arguably the best goalie in the world in an incredible bout that lived up to all the hype that surrounded the game.

”It’s great for the fans, great for everything,” Brett Connolly said. “It’s good to see two really good players go at it like that.”

Throughout his career, Alex Ovechkin has tormented Montreal goalie Carey Price. In 24 regular season games, he has scored on Price 18 times. On Monday, Ovechkin added two more goals to that total.

In the first period, Tom Wilson delivered a blistering pass through traffic right to the tape of Ovechkin who tipped it in past a helpless Price who had been waiting for the shot. He would add a second goal in the third period from the office with the Caps on a two-man advantage.

At that point, a hat trick seemed like a foregone conclusion, but that’s when Price began to battle back.

Price robbed Ovechkin of goal No. 3 with not one, but two brilliant saves in the third period to help force overtime.

With the puck on the left wall, Ovechkin charged the net from the right midway into the third period. Connolly managed to find him with the pass and Ovechkin delivered a one-touch shot that Price snared out of the air Statue-of-Liberty style. Somehow Price managed to get over from post to post to snag the puck with the glove and he made sure to put some extra flair on the save.

With the score still tied at four, Ovechkin made one final push to win the game in regulation.

This time it was Wilson on the right with Ovechkin setting up for the one-timer on the left. Wilson delivered the pass and Ovechkin fired what would have been a buzzer-beater goal with just two seconds left in regulation. Price slid to cover the cross-ice shot, but could not get completely over in time to block the shot. He lifted his blocker up in desperation and just managed to catch the puck and send it out of play.

“Obviously Alex made a great shot, hit the knob of his stick,” Braden Holtby said. “It’s one of those unlucky things. It just happens.”

It was a spectacular save the brought that Montreal faithful to their feet and even drew recognition from Ovechkin himself.

Ovechkin’s initial reaction was one of disbelief, but he soon began applauding along with the crowd and skated over to give the netminder his due.

“It was a pretty cool moment, pretty beautiful save and the fans was cheering for him,” Ovechkin said. “I was kind of same.”

The Caps would get the last laugh with the overtime winner, but this was a rare occasion in which the result of the game as largely overshadowed by the drama that unfolded between two players.

Ovechkin finished the game with two goals against Price, while Price finished with 29 saves including two third period beauties to deny Ovechkin his hat trick.

Capitals head coach Todd Reirden was effusive of his praise of both players after the game.

“It’s stars like that that put on performances like they both did tonight that just make it worth every dime that it costs to come to the game and worth the price of admission tonight for certain with those two."

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