Redskins

Ole Miss, Pitt eye winning seasons in Compass Bowl

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Ole Miss, Pitt eye winning seasons in Compass Bowl

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) Mississippi quarterback Bo Wallace says first-year coach Hugh Freeze has pulled off a total makeover of the team's culture.

Freeze also has delivered an impressive new look to the Rebels' record.

Freeze needs a win in Saturday's BBVA Compass Bowl against Pittsburgh and its first-year coach, Paul Chryst, to cap an unlikely turnaround from last season's 2-10 finish.

Wallace joined the program as a transfer one year ago. He said he heard stories of problems in the 2011 season that disappeared when Freeze moved to Oxford.

``He totally changed the culture I feel like,'' Wallace said Friday. ``When I first got here in January, the stories you heard you don't hear anymore.''

Freeze took over a team that had lost 14 straight Southeastern Conference games. Redshirt freshman linebacker Daniel Nkemdiche said Freeze fix the problems, including selfish play, that led to the losing.

``The biggest difference is we're like a team now,'' Nkemdiche said. ``We love each other and we're starting to treat each other like brothers.

``The closer you are the better you do. ... The selfishness is totally out of the picture. It's been a total turnaround.''

Ole Miss and Pitt bring 6-6 records into the game, so a winning season is on the line. Each team had important final regular-season wins to become bowl-eligible.

The Rebels beat in-state rival Mississippi State for their first Egg Bowl win in four years. The Panthers closed with back-to-back wins over No. 21 Rutgers and South Florida.

Pitt is playing in its third straight BBVA Compass Bowl. The Panthers beat Kentucky two years ago and lost to SMU last season.

The Panthers are playing their last game as a Big East team. They are moving to the Atlantic Coast Conference next season.

Another Big East team headed to the ACC took a bowl upset when Louisville beat No. 4 Florida in the Sugar Bowl.

Chryst said Louisville's win has no connection to the Panthers' bowl game.

``I think it has nothing to do with any of the conferences,'' Chryst said. ``It's Ole Miss and Pitt. We have a chance to play a good team. It's those teams playing in a good venue. That's enough.''

Pitt went through four coaches in a span of 14 months, culminating with Chryst's hiring in January.

The Panthers used interim coaches in the last two Compass Bowls after Dave Wannstedt was released from his contract and Todd Graham left for Arizona State.

Chryst has had an up-and-down debut season. The Panthers took wins over two ranked teams - Rutgers and Virginia Tech. They almost pulled off a bigger win when they took Notre Dame to triple-overtime before losing.

Low points for the Panthers were losses Youngstown State and Connecticut.

Pitt may face a motivational disadvantage as its plays its third straight bowl game in Birmingham.

``You never know what's going to be your last football game, so just the opportunity to play another 60 minutes is motivation enough,'' said senior center Ryan Turnley.

The Panthers rank among the top 21 teams in the nation in scoring defense and total defense, but they could be challenged against Freeze's up-tempo attack.

``Certainly we're going to be who we are,'' Freeze said before adding he has seen other up-tempo teams struggle to maintain their pace early in other bowl games.

``We hope we can do it the entire time,'' Freeze said. ``It's advantageous for us we feel like. I'm not sure how much of our type stuff is done in the Big East. It doesn't look like a whole lot of it, but they've had a long time to prepare for this game.''

Pitt has strong balance with its 1,000-yard rusher, Ray Graham, and its 3,000-yard passer, Tino Sunseri, who has 19 touchdown passes and only two interceptions.

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After playoff debacle, NFL owners vote to overhaul ability to review pass interference

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After playoff debacle, NFL owners vote to overhaul ability to review pass interference

The NFL owners voted Tuesday evening to approve a rule proposal that will allow for both offensive and defensive pass interference, as well as non-calls, to be able to be subject to review.

The new rule change was passed for 2019 season and will be on a trial basis. Coaches will be able to challenge those specific calls in the first 28 minutes of each half. 

The change was passed with a 31-1 vote in Phoenix Tuesday evening at the Annual League Meeting. The only team to vote against the provision was the Cincinnati Bengals.

Coaches will still have two challenge flags.

New Orleans Saints Head Coach Sean Payton, who has been the one of the rule change's main advocates since the 2018 NFC Championship Game, was thrilled after the ruling was announced.

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Redskins announce Landon Collins will not take over Sean Taylor’s number after all

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Redskins announce Landon Collins will not take over Sean Taylor’s number after all

When a new player signs or is traded to a team, a lot of hype and speculation come along with it. While discussions about how they'll fit in with a certain scheme and debates over whether the contract was worth it always take center stage, there's another hot-button question that fans, journalists and more like to explore: "What number will they wear?"

After the Redskins signed free agent safety Landon Collins to a six-year deal this offseason, trying to determine what number he would wear became an important discussion point, and on Tuesday the answer was finally revealed by the team's twitter account.

Collins will rock No. 20 for the Redskins, according to a post by the team today. A great deal of the hoopla behind what number the safety would pick revolved around his history with the late Sean Taylor. Collins has always looked up to the Redskins great and wore No. 21 with the New York Giants to honor one of his role models. He even became overwhelmed with emotion when receiving a signed Taylor Jersey from owner Dan Synder following his signing.

So, it seemed that if anyone was going to be the first player to don No. 21 in the Burgundy and Gold since Taylor it would be Collins. However, Tuesday put that theory to rest. To some, including former Redskins Clinton Portis, this was the right decision

No. 20 will be the third different number Collins has worn since the beginning of his collegiate career, as he was No. 26 at Alabama. With Adrian Peterson re-signing with Washington, it seems as if the running back will be keeping the number he wore in 2018. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix wore No. 20 for the Redskins last season, but the safety is now with the Chicago Bears. 

The post also included the number new quarterback Case Keenum will wear, which will be No. 8. This will be the fourth different number of his NFL career, as he had worn No. 7, No. 17 and No. 4 during his previous stops.

Kevin Hogan was the last Redskins quarterback to wear No. 8. But before him, it was of course Kirk Cousins, who then went to Minnesota to take over Keenum's starting job. I guess it really is a small world after all. 

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