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Sooners eager to firm up defense ahead of Bedlam

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Sooners eager to firm up defense ahead of Bedlam

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) Oklahoma defensive end David King knew what was coming Monday, even before watching film of the Sooners' wild 50-49 win at West Virginia.

The Sooners had a poor defensive outing of historical proportions and it took a record-setting performance - including a last-minute touchdown drive - by quarterback Landry Jones to bail them out. The weekly defensive film session figured to be somewhat unpleasant.

``There will be some words said,'' King said. ``You have to take it as part of football. You're going to be coached. You have to deal with it.''

What No. 14 Oklahoma (8-2, 6-1 Big 12) will have to deal with on Saturday will be an Oklahoma State squad that uses the same offensive philosophy as West Virginia's Dana Holgorsen, who was the Cowboys' offensive coordinator for a year before becoming the Mountaineers' head coach.

No. 22 Oklahoma State (7-3, 5-2) has the conference's top running back in Joseph Randle and ranks third in the Bowl Subdivision in total offense at 553.7 yards per game. Seeing as how the Sooners gave up 344 yards rushing to West Virginia's receiver-turned-running back, Tavon Austin, there is cause for concern in the Oklahoma camp entering the annual Bedlam showdown.

``It starts with the front seven,'' King said. ``I think a couple of times last week, we were caught with seven (defensive backs) on the field and it's kind of hard to play the run. Still, guys have to make plays and guys have to step up. Big-time players make big-time plays on a stage like that. It's something we have to fix. Our pass defense has been pretty good all year. Our run defense hasn't been as stout as our pass defense and it's something we have to pick up these last two weeks, especially with OSU coming in here on Saturday.''

Austin broke the previous opponent rushing record against Oklahoma - 235 yards by Darren Sproles of Kansas State in the 2003 Big 12 title game - by 109 yards. Austin's 572 all-purpose yards against the Sooners was six shy of the FBS record, held by Emmitt White of Utah State. West Virginia's Steadman Bailey also caught four touchdown passes, joining Fred Biletnikoff as the only receivers to do that against Oklahoma. Biletnikoff did it for Florida State in the 1964 Gator Bowl.

The Mountaineers finished with 778 yards of offense. Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops offered another eye-catching number as a sort of explanation - 20 missed tackles by the Sooners.

``We haven't had that in a long, long time,'' Stoops said, saying Austin should receive credit ``for making people miss him. ... He did an excellent job.''

But Stoops said the Sooners - who often used the seven defensive backs in a scheme to limit West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith - also helped Austin.

``I feel like we could tackle better in some instances,'' Stoops said. ``Again, structurally in what we're asking our guys to do, we'll need to make some adjustments and will hopefully defend the run better. That will be a key issue, obviously, this coming week.''

Stoops declined to reveal what changes the Sooners were considering. He defended free safety Tony Jefferson, who took much of the blame for what happened at West Virginia.

``We're asking them a little bit too much sometimes to make some tackles in some areas where it's pretty difficult,'' Stoops said of his defensive backs. ``So that's where we've got to make some adjustments, in how we're playing some of our guys up front in front of them, too. We've got our hand in it as coaches, too, to try and make some adjustments to give those guys a fair opportunity, too.

On the positive side for the Sooners, they also had a record-setting offensive outing. Jones completed 38 of 51 passes for a school-record 554 yards and tied his own school mark by throwing six touchdown passes, the last to Kenny Stills with 24 seconds left.

Jones, named Monday as the Big 12's offensive player of the week, has 15,624 yards in career passing and needs 170 more to pass Graham Harrell of Texas Tech as the Big 12's leader in that category. King praised Jones and the Oklahoma offense for making sure the Sooners won.

``At the end of the day, that's the most important thing, walking out of that stadium with a win instead of a loss,'' King said. ``We'd be sitting here at 7-3 instead of 8-2. I'm proud of the way we kept fighting all year. Last year when we had the same situation (against Baylor), we didn't come out in the winning end of it. This year, we found a way to win. Our offense just kept coming and bailed us out of the game and scored one more point and made one more play.''

NOTES: Stoops says offensive lineman Daryl Williams is lost for the rest of the regular season because of a knee injury. Williams sprained a medial collateral ligament against West Virginia, but Stoops says he should be able to return for the Sooners' bowl game. Stoops says Oklahoma will decide during the week how to juggle the lineup to account for Williams' absence.

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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: On to Vegas!

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USA TODAY Sports

Capitals Faceoff Podcast: On to Vegas!

The Capitals are the Eastern Conference Champions!

After dispatching Tampa Bay in Game 7, the Caps claimed the conference crown for just the second time in franchise history. But they're not done yet. Now it's on to Vegas to face the Golden Knights for the Stanley Cup.

JJ Regan and Tarik El-Bashir break down the Caps' win over the Lightning and look ahead to the matchup with the Knights.

Check out their latest episode in the player below or listen on the Capitals Faceoff Podcast page.

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—OTA report, fans excited about young D-line

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NBC Sports Washington

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—OTA report, fans excited about young D-line

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, May 25, 62 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

The Redskins week that was

A look at some of the most popular posts and hottest topics of the week on Real Redskins and NBC Sports Washington

Trades, misses and mistakes explain Redskins' dead cap—This post does a good job of outlining where the Redskins’ dead cap came from. It should be noted that dead cap is a part of the cost of doing business in the NFL and the Redskins have done fairly well managing it this year. Only about a dozen teams have less dead cap on the books than the Redskins $5.2 million. 

Tandler's Take—The best- and worst-case scenarios for the 2018 Redskins—I received some comments saying that my worst-case scenario, a 6-10 finish, is not low enough. Since we’re talking about events that won’t begin to happen for about three and a half months, I can’t really argue with them. But it’s just hard for me to see them dropping more than a game from last year when they were hit harder with injuries than any other team in the NFL. 

Pre-OTAs Redskins player one-liners, defense—An extension for Matt Ioannidis seemed preposterous a year ago, now it seems like a good idea. How many sacks for Lanier? When will Ryan Anderson get his first sack? Plus offensive player one-liners here

Redskins OTA practice report—QB Alex Smith sharp—You can’t tell everything from OTAs, but you can tell some things. Taking another look at this post, I gave a good, detailed look at the session, but I didn’t really mention the overall feel, which was fun and energetic. 

Tweet of the week

Certainly, Derrius Guice is the fan favorite of the rookie class. But the great reaction to this tweet shows that there is plenty of love for Daron Payne and Jonathan Allen, last year’s top pick. 

In 2016, the starting defensive line consisted of Ricky Jean Francois, Chris Baker, and  Ziggy Hood. The top reserve was Cullen Jenkins. They all had their good qualities and made some plays. But Baker was the youngster of the group and he turned 30 during the season. It clearly was a group on the decline. 

Two years later, the picture is quite different. Payne and Allen lead a younger group that will get better over the next few years. Matt Ioannidis, Anthony Lanier, Tim Settle, and Stacy McGee should round out the group. McGee is by far the senior member of the group at age 28. None of the others have celebrated his 25thbirthday yet. 

Fans should perhaps temper their optimism with the knowledge that potential doesn’t always develop into performance. But unlike years past there is something to look forward to. 

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

Timeline  

Days until:

—Minicamp (6/12) 18
—Training camp starts (7/26) 62
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 76

The Redskins last played a game 145 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 107 days. 

In case you missed it

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