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Smith's 4 TD passes lead WVU over Texas, 48-45

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Smith's 4 TD passes lead WVU over Texas, 48-45

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) Geno Smith and No. 8 West Virginia turned their first trip to Texas into a rollicking Wild West drama.

And now, two games into playing in a new conference, the Mountaineers look every bit like one of the teams to beat in the Big 12.

Smith passed for four touchdowns, Andrew Buie ran for 207 yards and two touchdowns and West Virginia came away with another wild victory, this time taking down the 11th-ranked Longhorns 48-45 on Saturday night.

A week after West Virginia ran up 70 points on Baylor at home, the Mountaineers turned their first road game in their new league into another high-scoring, heart-pounding affair.

``Every week, we're going to go out and have fun,'' Smith said after he and his teammates celebrated the win with several thousand West Virginia fans tucked into a corner of Royal-Memorial Stadium.

West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen called the win ``pretty cool.''

Smith, who has 24 touchdown passes this season without an interception, hit Stedman Bailey with a 6-yard score with 10:50 left to play. Buie's second touchdown gave the Mountaineers a 10-point lead late with 1:18 left.

But West Virginia (5-0, 2-0) didn't seal the win until recovering an onside kick with 14 seconds left after Texas scored a touchdown on a pass from David Ash to Marquise Goodwin.

Joe Bergeron scored four touchdowns, all on short runs, for Texas (4-1, 1-1), which is 2-7 at home in conference games the since 2010. Texas has lost seven in a row to ranked opponents.

Smith was 25-of-35 passing for 268 yards in a game he had to be sharp. Texas' aggressive defense hit him early and often and forced a second quarter fumble that the Longhorns recovered for a touchdown.

``They put me under duress a bit,'' Smith said. ``I just get up and continue to play.''

Smith continues to make all the big throws when the Mountaineers need it, and he had to in a game where every possession was critical. West Virginia went 5 for 5 on fourth downs.

``There weren't a lot of times when we weren't draped all over the guy when he was trying to throw,'' Texas defensive coordinator Manny Diaz said. ``You have to give him a lot of credit, his receivers a lot of credit.''

Buie was just as important to West Virginia's ability to carve up the Texas defense. He averaged 6.7 yards against a Longhorns unit that pressured Smith but has struggled with tackling all season.

``We just lined up and ran it right at them,'' Holgorsen said.

The fumble recovery for a touchdown sparked a first-half rally that brought Texas back from a 21-7 deficit to a 28-27 halftime lead. The Longhorns forced another fumble by Smith in the fourth. But Texas couldn't capitalize when an errant snap sailed past Ash, leading to a 16-yard loss before Anthony Fera missed a 41-yard field goal attempt that would have tied the score at 41-41.

``That really hurt us,'' Texas coach Mack Brown said.

Fera, who transferred from Penn State, missed the first four games with a groin injury

Ash, the No. 2-rate passer in the nation behind Smith, was 22 of 29 for 269 yards and one touchdown. He took the blame for miscue on the snap.

``That was my fault. I let the play clock bleed down too low. I should have caught it,'' Ash said.

Bergeron scored on runs of 2, 2, 1 and 4 yards. His last score gave Texas a 38-34 lead with 29 seconds left in the third quarter before Smith and Buie marched the Mountaineers right back down the field.

Smith threw touchdown passes of 8 yards to Bailey and 40 yards to Tavon Austin in the first quarter and West Virginia led 21-7 after Buie's first touchdown run.

Texas turned momentum and awoke the record home crowd of 101,851 when Alex Okafor sacked Smith and Jackson Jeffcoat recovered in the end zone to the tie the game. Bergeron's third touchdown of the first half put Texas ahead 28-27 at halftime.

Texas chewed up nine minutes on its first drive of the third quarter, moving to a 38-yard field goal by Fera. But Smith simply worked faster and West Virginia's drives resulted in touchdowns.

Smith's second touchdown pass to Bailey put the Mountaineers up 34-31 and the teams traded the lead two more times before it was all over.

``We knew it was going to be a dogfight,'' Texas safety Kenny Vaccaro said. ``It's frustrating and we left a lot on the table.''

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Wizards Tipoff podcast: Pre-draft workouts begin; Michigan's Moe Wagner goes 1-on-1

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USA Today Sports Images

Wizards Tipoff podcast: Pre-draft workouts begin; Michigan's Moe Wagner goes 1-on-1

On the latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast presented by Greenberg and Bederman, Chris Miller caught up with Michigan star Moe Wagner after his workout with the Wizards.

Chris and Chase Hughes also gave their impressions of the first prospects to come in for pre-draft workouts, including which guys are most likely to be Wizards. One of those prospects is a point guard and a likely first round pick. Chase and Chris explain why that's not a crazy idea, even considering the presence of John Wall on their roster.

You can listen to the episode right here:

You can download the podcast on Apple Podcasts right here and on Google Play. If you like the show please tell your friends!

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Redskins still absorbing rule changes involving kickoffs, contact with helmet

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Associated Press

Redskins still absorbing rule changes involving kickoffs, contact with helmet

The NFL has passed two major on-field rule changes in the last two months. One, the rule that prohibits players from lowering their helmets to initiate contact with another player. That one passed during the spring meetings in March but it was just recently clarified. The other one changes how kickoffs are executed. 

Both rules, designed to make the game safer for the players, could have a major impact on the game. And the Redskins are still a little unclear about how to handle them. 

Safety D.J. Swearinger is one of the Redskins’ hardest hitters. After saying that the helmet-lowering rule, which is outlined in some detail in this video from the NFL, would not affect him because he hits low, he wondered why he was even wearing a hard hat at work. 

“I’ve got a helmet on, but I can’t use it or hit nobody with it, might as well take the helmet off if you ask me,” said Swearinger following the Redskins’ OTA practice on Wednesday.

As of Wednesday afternoon, coach Jay Gruden had not yet been filled in on the details of the helmet-lowering rule. He said that the team will sort it out over the three and a half months between now and the start of the regular season. 

“The lowering of the helmet, I don’t know which ones they decided to go with, so we’ll see,” he said. “I know there’s been a lot of talk about bull rushes and they’re trying to obviously protect the players, but we’ve just got to be careful.”

Gruden said that special teams coach Ben Kotwica went to meetings to help hash out the kickoff rule. What they ended up with looks a lot like another special teams play according to the player who will be executing the kickoffs. 

“It looks like they’re trying to make it more like a punt,” said kicker Dustin Hopkins. Among the similarities are that the kicking team will not be able to get a running start as the kicker approaches the ball. They will have to be stationary a yard away from the line where the ball is until it is kicked. 

The league probably will be happy if the play does more closely resemble a punt. The injury rate on punt plays is much lower than it is on kickoffs. 

Some believe that this change will lead to longer kickoff returns. Gruden didn’t disagree, but he said that he needs more information. 

“I think without the guys getting a running start, number one, it could be,” he said. “I think it’s just something I have to see it before I can really make any judgments on it.”

The new rule prohibits wedge blocking meaning that you are unlikely to see any offensive linemen on kickoffs as they were used primarily to create or break wedges. 

“I think for the most part, you’re going to see more speed guys,” said Gruden.

The Redskins will start to wrap their heads around the new rule during the next three weeks, when they have their final two weeks of OTAs and then minicamp before the break for training camp. Gruden said that they will continue to work on it in Richmond. He said that the joint practices with the Jets and the four preseason game will be important for sorting out just how the team will implement kickoffs. 

The best way to handle it might be to just let Hopkins pound the ball into the end zone every time. Last year 72.5 percent of his kickoffs went for touchbacks. He could have had more touchbacks, but he occasionally was told to kick it high to force a return with the hope of getting better field position. But if the rules lead to longer returns it may not be worth the risk. 

More 2018 Redskins

- 53-man roster: Player one-liners, offense
- Tandler’s Take: Best- and worst-case scenarios for 2018
- OTAs: Practice report: Smith sharp
- Injuries: Kouandjio out for the season

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.