Nationals

Offense growing with Golson for No. 4 Notre Dame

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Offense growing with Golson for No. 4 Notre Dame

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) Brian Kelly folded his arms across his chest and shook his head in disgust at a promising Notre Dame drive that stalled out in the red zone.

His young quarterback, Everett Golson, had just planted a third-down throw in the grass a few feet too far away for second-team All-American Tyler Eifert to dive and catch it on the 13th play of a series that had lasted nearly 7 minutes.

All that work would end up with no payoff when Kyle Brindza missed wide left on a 35-yard field goal attempt, but it could pay dividends down the road when it comes to Golson's growth.

As his quarterback came to the sideline, Kelly put one arm on either side of Golson's waist and drove home a point: When you have a talented 6-foot-5 tight end, put the ball up high where he has an advantage on defenders, not down on the ground.

``Every single play, there's something out there that needs to be communicated and it's very important that I got it across to him because later it ended up being a big play for us,'' Kelly said, referring to a pass Golson delivered high for a leaping 22-yard catch on the next drive by 6-foot-2 DaVaris Daniels.

``When you're dealing with a young quarterback, you have to take those moments. I can't control that kick at that point, so it was important that I got my point across at that time and not wait.''

Golson, who because of injury or ineffective play was unable to complete three games in the first half of the season, is starting to show signs of maturing into the type of leader the Fighting Irish (8-0) will need to stay in the national championship picture for the final month of the season.

Following a 30-13 win at then-No. 8 Oklahoma, the Irish moved up to No. 4 in The Associated Press poll on Sunday. They return home to face Pittsburgh (4-4) next Saturday.

Before Saturday night, much of Notre Dame's ascent had been built around a three-headed power running attack and the nation's second-stingiest defense, led by Heisman Trophy hopeful Manti Te'o at linebacker. But against the Sooners, Kelly said it was ``the first time that we showed that we could be on our own a little bit offensively and put some points on the board.''

``If we continue to go that way, it's going to give us an offense that's going to be difficult to defend because we'll have great balance,'' Kelly said Sunday. ``That's what we're trying to get with Everett in there: Not an offense that throws it 50 times nor an offense that runs it 50 times, one that's balanced and difficult to defend.''

That's exactly what the Irish got in their most difficult test of the season so far, while stuffing Oklahoma's run game and turning the Sooners - who were fifth in the nation in scoring - into a one-dimensional attack that could only complete short passes.

The Irish held a 215-15 advantage on the ground, with Golson contributing 64 yards rushing to go with his 177 through the air.

After missing the previous week's win against BYU because of a concussion, Golson said he got a different perspective from the sideline and came back with changes in mind. Chief among them: ``Just the relationship with the other players, the other 10 guys on the offense,'' Golson said. ``I definitely just wanted to improve in that.''

``It had a tremendous effect, just seeing it outside of me actually being out there really helped me,'' Golson added. ``Just kind of seeing it from the sideline perspective. It made me realize a couple things that we needed to work on.''

Kelly said he thinks Golson's week off allowed him to see that he had been a less assertive leader than backup Tommy Rees, who won two games in relief of Golson plus the BYU game. He's also shown more willingness lately to accept coaching to change the fundamentals of his drop-back and in return let the coaches know what plays he's most comfortable running.

``I just think he's beginning to realize those detail things we've been banging him on the head with will actually make him a better quarterback,'' Kelly said. ``I think by getting a chance to step back and see it, and watching it, I think he realized more and more how important it is to be disciplined in those areas.

``Then I think he just flat out made a decision that `I know this coaching is going to help me and I'm going to take it to heart.'''

Golson also showed some toughness when he scrambled on the next-to-last play of the third quarter and got flattened by Oklahoma's Tony Jefferson. He was able to walk off after staying down on the field for a few moments, but he returned as soon as possible to finish the game off.

``He got hit pretty hard on one play and came back in. He sat out the one play because you have to and then came back and led the offense back down the field,'' receiver T.J. Jones said. ``He's starting to mature as a quarterback and a leader as well.''

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Tom Coyne contributed to this report from South Bend, Ind.

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Nationals will face juggernaut Houston Astros in the World Series

Nationals will face juggernaut Houston Astros in the World Series

Finally, an opponent.

The Washington Nationals will travel to Houston on Monday morning to open the 115th World Series on Tuesday against the American League champion Astros in Minute Maid Park.

The Nationals swept St. Louis to send themselves to the organization’s first World Series and a six-day break between games. 

Houston beat the New York Yankees, 6-4, Saturday night to capture its second American League title in three years thanks to a walk-off homer by Jose Altuve. The Astros won the 2017 World Series and lost in the ALCS to eventual World Series champion Boston last season. 

The Astros are deep, versatile and targeted. They won the American League title via a Game 6 bullpen showdown. Outside of starting Brad Peacock in the reliever-laden clincher, Houston also dispatches Gerrit Cole, Justin Verlander and Zack Greinke, a trio which rivals -- if not bests -- the Nationals’ top three. As a group, Houston commanded the strike zone like no other team during the regular season. It led the league in strikeouts from its pitchers and its hitters struck out the least. 

If there is a ding against Houston, which won a franchise-record 107 games this season, it would be the ALCS work with runners in scoring position. It entered Game 6 just 4-for-27 with runners in scoring position. Yuli Gurriel’s three-run, first-inning homer helped counter that slog Saturday night and push Houston into another shot at a title. 

Winning behind a bullpen game is a huge benefit for Houston, It can now pitch ace Cole in Game 1 on extra rest and Verlander in Game 2 on regular rest, if it chooses. 

The Nationals are yet to announce their rotation plans. They have options. Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg could pitch the first two games. Or, Washington could throw Aníbal Sánchez in the opener to push Scherzer to Games 2 and 6 and Strasburg to Games 3 and 7. 

Scherzer and Sánchez dealt with a few of the keys to the Astros’ lineup in the past. Michael Brantley, who joined the Astros following a strong career in Cleveland, is 15-for-44 career against Scherzer (a 1.004 OPS). Jose Altuve is 2 for 11 in a much smaller sample. Josh Reddick is 5 for 11. Many of the major names in the Houston lineup have not faced Scherzer previously. 

Altuve (4 for 11) is more successful against Sánchez. Brantley less so (.667 OPS in 30 at-bats).

They will all face each other again starting Tuesday night at 8:08.

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Report shows Bruce Allen won't trade Trent Williams now, but could that change?

Report shows Bruce Allen won't trade Trent Williams now, but could that change?

No practices. No games. No voluntary workouts. No mandatory workouts. No training camp. Trent Williams hasn't attended a single Redskins team event in 2019. Not one. And still he remains on the team.

NFL Network reported on Saturday morning that while the Redskins have gotten plenty of calls about the seven-time Pro Bowler Williams, Washington team president Bruce Allen has no intention to trade the left tackle.

Browns GM John Dorsey publicly admitted this week that he's been calling the Redskins about possibly trading for Williams but that it "takes two to tango." The implication being Allen isn't taking serious part in trade talks, and that coincides with the NFL Network report. 

If Allen is intent on waiting until January to trade Williams, the Redskins boss retains that power. Allen makes trades, unilaterally, and whether or not it should be the case, it remains that case. DeAngelo Hall explained on his podcast last month that he didn't expect Williams to be traded until the offseason either. Hall explained that Allen wanted to trade Williams on his own terms, and that won't happen in season. 

There could be strategic advantages to holding on to Williams this year too. If Williams doesn't play, and the Redskins trade him in January, that will leave two years on his contract. If Washington traded him now, he would have only the remainder of this season plus the 2020 season to entice bidders. There also are salary cap rollovers available if Williams doesn't play this year and the team moves on in the offseason.

It also seems kind of crazy not to trade Williams now. 

If a team needs a tackle, Williams' value won't be as high in January as it is right now. Period. The trade deadline comes on October 29th, and Williams could likely command a large asking price. Dorsey is openly talking about wanting Williams. He wouldn't do that if he didn't mean that. 

Allen has made it clear that moving on from Williams now isn't in the cards, but one source inside the Redskins Park headquarters still said he wouldn't be surprised if something happens before the deadline. But what makes that happen?

The offers might need to change. 

Think about things in the context of Allen's approach: If the Redskins are close, then players help more than draft picks. If Washington is going to give up one of their best players, or arguably their best player, then Allen might want a star player back in a trade. 

Does that offer exist? Is Allen even interested? Those answers aren't clear. 

What is clear, however, is that the Redskins made a shift towards accountability. At least that's what's been said.

The team fired Jay Gruden two weeks and moved to interim head coach Bill Callahan. Much of Callahan's message has been about increasing physicality on the field and responsibility off it. For that message to work, how can the team continue to let the Williams situation linger?

Throughout Williams' holdout, Redskins leadership has dismissed the idea of trading Williams. During training camp the word was Williams would not be traded, at all. In fact, Allen said he expected Williams to rejoin the team before the regular season started. Seven games later, no sign of Williams. 

After firing Jay Gruden two weeks ago, Allen held a press conference. Asked about trading Williams, Allen replied, "No, not at this time."

Well, last week for the first time Callahan got asked about trading Williams. It's not Callahan's call to make the trade, but the answer sounded different.

"I think you’re always looking to improve your roster by any means," the interim coach said. "Whether you’re acquiring by trade or acquiring it through free agency or obviously guys off the waiver wire, we’re always looking."

Callahan says the Redskins are always looking to improve. That means the question is what justifies improvement to Allen. 

Maybe it's not picks. Maybe it's players. The deadline comes in about nine days. Questions will be answered. 

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