Redskins

Spurrier puts focus more than Clemson

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Spurrier puts focus more than Clemson

CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) Steve Spurrier thought people at South Carolina spent too much time focused on Clemson. So the Gamecocks coach needed to change the mindset.

He had to get players and fans to buy into the idea it was not a one-game season. It's working.

No. 13 South Carolina (9-2) will try for its landmark fourth-straight series win over No. 12 Clemson (10-1) at Death Valley on Saturday night.

If the Gamecocks pull off the victory, it would be only the second time its happened in the series - the other was from 1951-54.

``I think we take it less seriously than we used to,'' Spurrier said. ``I think they overdid it prior to coming here.''

There were signs everywhere, Spurrier recalled, saying `Beat Clemson.' When Spurrier, who replaced Lou Holtz after the 2004 season, took his first spring and summer tour of South Carolina booster groups, he heard from plenty of fans. They said they would be happy winning just one game a year if it were against Clemson.

``I said, `My thoughts are the opposite. I'd rather win them all and lose to Clemson if that was the choice,'?" Spurrier said. ``My belief is you don't talk about one team the entire year. We take it seriously, but we don't talk about beating Clemson all year long anymore.''

He leaves that to the fans, who have talked about little else since the dominant three-year run started in 2009 with a 34-17 victory. South Carolina won 29-7 at Death Valley a year later, then beat the Tigers 34-13 last season.

Spurrier understands the sentiments - Clemson holds a 65-40-4 edge in the series and were 24-8-1 from 1976 through 2008 - but wants the focus on the Southeastern Conference, where the Gamecocks have also improved in recent years.

South Carolina won its first SEC Eastern Division in 2010 and had back-to-back 6-2 league seasons the past two years. The holistic approach has also helped against Clemson in the season finale, Spurrier said.

He believes playing well in the SEC typically means you can compete with any program in the country.

Linebacker Shaq Wilson said the turnaround started when the Gamecocks adjusted their focus to each opponent and not just the crowd-pleaser at the end of the schedule.

``It's a rivalry game, it's big to the state and it's big on the national stage,'' Wilson said. ``For me, it's just another chance to showcase our talent and get a win.''

The stakes are high for both teams.

The Gamecocks are seeking a second consecutive 10-win season, something they've never achieved in 119 seasons of football. Clemson is seeking its first 11-victory season since its 12-0 national championship campaign 31 years ago. Plus, the Tigers are still alive for a BCS at-large berth.

It's just the second time in rivalry history both teams have been ranked inside the top 15 and just sixth time ever the two have been ranked for this game.

And then there's that nasty losing streak to South Carolina that Clemson fans keep bringing up to Tigers coach Dabo Swinney. He takes issue with the idea his team's season might be viewed by some as half-full without beating the Gamecocks.

``I think that is a sad way to think about things,'' he said. ``They have no appreciation for winning or how hard it is to win.''

Still, Swinney is tired as everyone else of South Carolina's win streak.

``We'd be incredibly disappointed if we lost this game,'' Swinney said. ``You're dang right. You live with it all year. Everybody lives with it, coaches, players and fans.''

Tigers quarterback Tajh Boyd called South Carolina a ``must-win'' situation after last Saturday's 62-48 victory over North Carolina State. Boyd doesn't want this year's senior class to finish 0-4 against their rivals.

``That's not what you want your legacy to be at all. It's a challenge for us,'' he said. ``And it'd be a great way to send these seniors out.''

South Carolina's defense held the Tigers to 153 yards last season, by far the lowest output in offensive coordinator Chad Morris' two seasons at Clemson. The Tigers have averaged 535 yards and 44 points this season.

``I feel like that's where the tide's kind of changed this season,'' Boyd said.

It's the second straight year South Carolina is without star tailback Marcus Lattimore, out with a serious knee injury. Backup Kenny Miles rushed for a career high 127 yards in the Gamecocks 24-7 against Wofford last week.

Gamecocks star defensive end Jadeveon Clowney is dealing with a foot injury and has a bruise on his knee. He won't practice much this week, but is expected to play. Defensive tackle Kelcy Quarles says South Carolina is focused totally on beating the Tigers.

``It's very important and vital we get this one done,'' he said.

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Need to Know: Redskins' Jay Gruden and Alex Smith from the podium

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Associated Press

Need to Know: Redskins' Jay Gruden and Alex Smith from the podium

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, May 24, 64 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

What Jay Gruden and Alex Smith had to say from the podium

After yesterday’s OTA practice, Alex Smith and Jay Gruden took the podium. Here are some of their quotes and my comments on them:

Smith was asked about getting together with his new teammates:

So I think every guy these last two days has enjoyed just getting back out there and losing yourself in the game, right? To be limited, it does make you miss it, and I think it makes you appreciate it, so that’s been nice. 

Comment: This is a guy who loves football and everything that goes with it. Smith would start playing games tomorrow if they were scheduled.

Gruden was asked how Smith has looked in these first two days of OTAs:

He’s got good command of the offense already. Great command in the huddle. He’s just getting a feel for the receivers, the players around him, how we call things, but overall, the first two days, I would say I’m very pleased with his quick progression and learning. I knew that wouldn’t be an issue with as much as he’s played in a similar-style system.

Comment: It did seem that Smith was in sync with his receivers, Jamison Crowder in particular. He and Paul Richardson connected on a deep pass after giving each other a look at the line of scrimmage. The encouraging thing is that he is coming from a similar offensive system, so the learning curve should not be too long. 

Smith had a great analogy when asked about similarities to the offenses he has run:

Both from West Coast worlds, so it’s kind of like they are all Latin-based languages, you know, but they are not the same. There are some similarities, structure of the playbook, of how we call things, things like that. There are a lot of similarities but it’s not the same language. I guess that’s the best analogy I can make

Comment: If terminology is the biggest obstacle for Smith to overcome it will be a smooth transition for him. 

Gruden was impressed with the running backs. 

“I’ll tell you what, just today in general, you could see the competition. You could see Rob Kelley step up. Samaje Perine’s had a couple big days. Byron Marshall, I mean, he had a couple great routes today. He’s running the ball between the tackles. [Kapri] Bibbs had some big runs yesterday. Obviously, Derrius Guice has come in here and fueled the fire a little bit.

Comment: I think that the Redskins are going to have to release some good running backs. Rob Kelly never really earned the nickname “Fat Rob” but he looked particularly lean and quick running the ball. He wants nothing to do with being on the roster bubble. Marshall moved quickly and showed his speed. Although Gruden wouldn’t say it, Guice clearly was the best of the bunch; his ability to change direction while maintaining his speed will serve him well. It must be noted that they are not in pads and not getting tackled so more definitive opinions will have to wait until we are in Richmond for a few days. 

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 and on Instagram @RichTandler

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Timeline  

Days until:

—Minicamp (6/12) 19
—Training camp starts (7/26) 64
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 78

The Redskins last played a game 144 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 108 days. 

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NHL Stanley Cup Final 2018: Capitals vs. Golden Knights full schedule announced, date, time, TV channel, how to watch

NHL Stanley Cup Final 2018: Capitals vs. Golden Knights full schedule announced, date, time, TV channel, how to watch

The Washington Capitals and Vegas Golden Knights are the only two hockey teams left standing and will meet to decide the 2017-18 NHL Stanley Cup champion.

The Capitals advanced to the Stanley Cup FInal for the first time since 1998, thanks to a 4-0 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final.

The Golden Knights, in their inaugural season, shocked the NHL world, defeating the Los Angeles Kings, San Jose Sharks and Winnipeg Jets to become the first team in major American professional sports history to reach the championship game in the franchise's first season.

The Capitals and Golden Knights met twice during the regular season, with Vegas coming out on top in both games. The Golden Knights blanked the Caps 3-0 in the Caps' first trip to Sin City, and bested the Caps 4-3 at Capital One Arena on Feb. 4.

Game 1 of the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Final between the Capitals and Golden Knights takes place on Monday, May 28 at 8:00 p.m. ET on NBC and is available to be streamed online by using the NBC Sports App.

NBC Sports Washington will broadcast pre- and postgame coverage of the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Final between the Capitals and Golden Knights,  with Caps FaceOff and Caps GameTime preceding Capitals vs. Golden Knights puck drop and Caps Extra and Caps OverTime following the end of each game. 

2018 STANLEY CUP FINAL HOW TO WATCH

Game 1: Capitals at Golden Knights
Date: Monday, May 28
Time: 8:00 p.m. ET 
Location: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, Nev.
TV Channel: NBC 
How To Watch Live StreamingNBC Sports App Live Stream
Radio: Capitals Radio Network (106.7 The Fan)

Game 2: Capitals at Golden Knights
Date: Wednesday, May 30
Time: 8:00 p.m. ET 
Location: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, Nev.
TV Channel: NBCSN
How To Watch Live StreamingNBC Sports App Live Stream
Radio: Capitals Radio Network (106.7 The Fan)

Game 3: Golden Knights at Capitals
Date: Saturday, June 2
Time: 8:00 p.m. ET 
Location: Capital One Arena. Washington, D.C.
TV Channel: NBCSN
How To Watch Live StreamingNBC Sports App Live Stream
Radio: Capitals Radio Network (106.7 The Fan)

Game 4: Golden Knights at Capitals
Date: Monday, June 4
Time: 8:00 p.m. ET 
Location: Capital One Arena. Washington, D.C.
TV Channel: NBC 
How To Watch Live StreamingNBC Sports App Live Stream
Radio: Capitals Radio Network (106.7 The Fan)

Game 5 (If Necessary): Capitals at Golden Knights
Date: Thursday, June 7
Time: 8:00 p.m. ET 
Location: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, Nev.
TV Channel: NBC 
How To Watch Live StreamingNBC Sports App Live Stream
Radio: Capitals Radio Network (106.7 The Fan)

Game 6 (If Necessary): Golden Knights at Capitals
Date: Sunday, June 10
Time: 8:00 p.m. ET 
Location: Capital One Arena. Washington, D.C.
TV Channel: NBC 
How To Watch Live StreamingNBC Sports App Live Stream
Radio: Capitals Radio Network (106.7 The Fan)

Game 7 (If Necessary): Capitals at Golden Knights
Date: Wednesday, June 13
Time: 8:00 p.m. ET 
Location: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, Nev.
TV Channel: NBC 
How To Watch Live StreamingNBC Sports App Live Stream
Radio: Capitals Radio Network (106.7 The Fan)
 

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