Ravens

Santa Clara's Keating helps students attend game

Santa Clara's Keating helps students attend game

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) Santa Clara coach Kerry Keating wanted to do everything he could to ensure a full house at the Leavey Center for Saturday night's game with No. 10 Gonzaga.

With school still out for the holiday break until Monday and on-campus dormitories closed until Sunday, Keating offered $100 hotel reimbursements from his own bank account to those students who live on campus but had nowhere to stay Saturday night.

A dozen students took advantage of the offer sharing four rooms, including freshman Maribel Alcazar. She lives in Gilroy, about an hour away, and doesn't have a car at college. Her parents were unable to drive her to and from school Saturday, then do so again one day later. Her mom noticed Keating's offer on the Internet, and Alcazar jumped on the unique chance by calling the basketball office. She was to stay in a double suite with three other young women.

``I was super surprised,'' said Alcazar, who attends most games as a member of the student spirit group Ruff Riders. ``I originally thought the school would reimburse him. I'm really glad he's so willing to do something like that. The game is sold out and a lot of students were disappointed the dorms wouldn't be open. We're really appreciative he's doing this out of his own pocket.''

Santa Clara, which entered the sold-out game at 12-3, is off to the program's best start since 1997-98.

``We need all their energy,'' Keating said leading up to the game. ``And if any of them read this and any of them want to stay here and can't have a room on campus. I want them to personally call the office and I will reimburse them up to $100 for a hotel room.''

Some upper classmen who did have their own off-campus housing were equally as appreciative of Keating's gesture given it would make the student section that much more effective and loud for a game every school in the West Coast Conference looks forward to on the home schedule - seeing the mighty Zags and trying for an upset.

In fact, junior Ryan Tursi had never heard of anything like this being done at any school, in any sport.

``I thought it was absolutely awesome for Coach Keating to do that,'' Tursi said. ``Here we are at one of the biggest games of the year. It's in the spirit of the school, of being a person with and for others. He represents that. I was blown away. I have never heard of a coach doing it. He's trying to get the students in the stands, and he has always tried to give back to the students.''

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What lessons the rest of the NFL should, and shouldn’t, take from the league’s top rushing teams

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What lessons the rest of the NFL should, and shouldn’t, take from the league’s top rushing teams

A glance at the NFL over the final two months of the season gave an interesting glimpse where the league was headed. 

The Ravens, the NFL’s best offense, were a predominantly rushing team. They rushed for a league record 3,296 yards in the regular season and were the league’s top regular season team. 

The Titans rode running back Derrick Henry all season, which led to him finishing as the league’s leading rusher. Over the final nine games he rushed for an average of 24.6 carries per game, including 30 or more carries in three of the team’s final four games. 

And most recently, the 49ers won the NFC in dominating fashion over the Packers with just eight passing attempts and 42 rushing attempts. 

With a handful of the league’s best rushing teams advancing in the playoffs, there appeared to be a change in the way teams attacked defenses in the NFL.

But those stats have been a bit misleading for the crowd that wants to establish the run for the sake of establishing a ground attack. What the Ravens and Titans did was make rushing the football more efficient than any other team in the league. 

Baltimore rushed for 5.5 yards per carry in the regular season, half-a-yard more than any other team in the league. They were only one of three teams to surpass the five yard-mark — one other team was the Titans. 

When compared to passing stats across the league, however, none of the qualified quarterbacks had worse than a six-yard average when passing the ball. Speaking strictly from the numbers, passing is still more advantageous than rushing the ball, no matter what teams that advanced far in the playoffs accomplished. 

What the Ravens and Titans do have, however, are two athletes that are unique in the NFL. Lamar Jackson was the league’s best rushing quarterback of all time and Henry led the league in total rushing yards. 

So the Ravens and Titans didn’t reinvent the wheel and show the NFL the ground game was more effective, but instead showed the league to lean into the special talents that both teams had. 

While the Titans were clearly better when Henry had his best days on the ground, there’s not a direct relationship to more Henry touches equaling a better day for the Titans. 

When the Ravens fell behind 14-0 to the Titans, Henry had just seven rushes for 28 yards on the ground. Down the stretch, he rushed 23 more times for 167 yards — a 7.26 yard average. Essentially, the Titans used Henry most effectively when they had already scored the winning points. 

The same can be said for the 49ers in the NFC Championship, who barely used Jimmy Garoppolo's arm. But when Raheem Mostert averages more than seven yards per carry, it’s difficult to get away from the run. 

So while it might seem that simply running the ball got teams to the playoffs, and championship games, it was the fact that they were able to run the ball more efficiently than other teams across the league. Rushing attempts weren’t the reason those teams won, but how they used those rushing attempts instead.

And when Jackson and Henry are leading the charge, it’s hard not to give them the ball.

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DC United acquires midefielder Julian Gressel from Atlanta United

DC United acquires midefielder Julian Gressel from Atlanta United

One week after paying a record-breaking transfer fee to acquire Edison Flores, DC United added another midfielder to the roster in the form of Julian Gressel. 

DC United acquired Gressel from Atlanta United via transfer Tuesday for $650,000 in 2020 Target Allocation Money (TAM) and $100,000 in TAM for 2021. Additional compensation could be owed to Atlanta based on performance incentives. 

Gressel was the eighth overall pick in the 2017 MLS SuperDraft and has led the league in assists since debuting with Atlanta in 2017. Over his first 98 career appearances, he's recorded 32 assists to go along with 15 career goals. 

"[Gressel] has impressed throughout his time in MLS and has been a major component to Atlanta’s success in the league since 2017," DC GM and VP of Soccer Operations Dave Kasper said in a statement. "Last year, he led Atlanta in assists and chances created while also scoring eight goals so we’re looking forward to adding his impressive goal creating ability and eye for goal to our roster in 2020 and beyond."

Gressel was the 2017 MLS Rookie of the Year after scoring five goals and recorded nine assists in his first 32 appearances as a pro. 

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