Syracuse expects to see Legaux on the run

Syracuse expects to see Legaux on the run

CINCINNATI (AP) Syracuse expects to see the other side of Munchie Legaux.

After tough back-to-back games that included five interceptions, the Bearcats want their inexperienced quarterback to get out of the pocket and run more on Saturday, forcing Syracuse to worry about more than just the pass.

The Orange (4-4, 3-1 Big East) have gotten into the race for the league championship by winning their last two, including a 37-36 victory at South Florida last week. Syracuse overcame a 20-point deficit to win - a first in school history.

Now, it has to stop a struggling quarterback who has gotten in trouble when he has to throw.

``It's like an extra running back there,'' Syracuse safety Shamarko Thomas said. ``You have to contain him and the versatile running back. It's definitely one of the hardest (defensive) schemes to perfect, but we've just got to do it.''

The Bearcats (5-2, 1-1) have fallen out of the Top 25 with back-to-back losses at Toledo and Louisville. The 34-31 overtime loss to the Cardinals was set up when Legaux lobbed a pass into the end zone on third down in overtime, resulting in his third interception.

Although coach Butch Jones is sticking with the junior quarterback, he's changing his methods. Legaux ran only five times at Louisville. That number is likely to increase significantly on Saturday with more planned runs.

``For our offense to really be effective, our quarterback has to be more of a running threat at times,'' Jones said. ``I think as he continues to prove he can do that and take care of the football, his role will continue to expand in that regard in the run game.''

Jones also is looking to get sophomore running back Ralph David Abernathy IV more plays against Syracuse, giving the Bearcats more versatility. George Winn has been the main running back. Abernathy, who is more of a breakaway threat, has carried 19 times in the last two games combined.

Abernathy found himself lining up outside of the backfield more in practice this week.

``We all talked about me learning the whole offense, right down to tight end,'' Abernathy said. ``They just want to try to get me everywhere so I can try to get the ball in my hands a little more.''

Abernathy's biggest problems have come while protecting Legaux on passing downs. The 5-foot-7 running back has been working on his blocking.

``We are going to be seeing more of him this week and we've challenged him this week in pass protection,'' Jones said. ``He will be seen more as an every down running back this week in terms of pass protection. We have done a great job of being able to play to his talents, get him the ball, create space for him, and we are going to challenge him this week to be more of a running back.''

Syracuse will be short-handed in stopping the run. Junior Jay Bromley, who is in his second season as the starting nose tackle, has a lower-body injury and may not be available. Coach Doug Marrone called it a ``devastating blow to us up front.''

The Orange got into the Big East race with the big comeback at South Florida. A victory in Cincinnati would give Syracuse a winning record for the first time this season.

Syracuse trailed the Bulls 23-3 at halftime, then got the offense rolling. Ryan Nassib threw touchdown passes to Marcus Sales and Alec Lemon - the last one with 3 seconds to go - for a 37-36 win. Both teams piled up more than 500 yards on offense.

``We've been trying to do that all year long,'' Nassib said. ``It's kind of the same story every week. We have to be able to turn the jets on and make some plays when we need to.''

The Orange are trying to use that fourth-quarter comeback as a starting point.

``That's something we've really focused on this week, trying to sustain that level of play,'' center Macky MacPherson said. ``Because if we can play at that level, we really feel like we're a hard team to beat.''


AP Sports Writer John Kekis in Syracuse contributed to this report.

Quick Links

Former National Jayson Werth pleads guilty to DUI in Arizona

USA Today

Former National Jayson Werth pleads guilty to DUI in Arizona

Former National Jayson Werth pled guilty last week to driving under the influence in Arizona. 

The plea deal stems from an April arrest, when Werth was at the Mariners' spring training facility in Peoria. 

He was sentenced to a diversion program, ordered drug and alcohol screening, and fined more than $1,600, along with having his driver's license suspended. 

The Mariners said it didn't affect their decisions to not call him up before he retired this summer. 

The Nationals inducted Werth into their Ring of Honor earlier this month. The team was not aware of the charges against Werth at the time, according to reports.

In January 2015, Werth pled guilty to reckless driving after he was cited for going 105 miles per hour in a 55-mph zone of the Beltway in Virginia. He served 10 days in jail for those charges.

Quick Links

With the game put in their hands, the Redskins defense got the job done again

With the game put in their hands, the Redskins defense got the job done again

The Redskins got going quickly on offense against the Packers on Sunday. They scored in four plays the first time they had the ball. After a three and out they drove to another touchdown. In the second quarter they embarked on the longest touchdown drive they have had since 1999, a 98-yard march. By the time halftime came they had scored 28 points. 

That’s great but that four touchdowns are not always enough to beat an Aaron Rodgers-led Packers team. In 2016, the last season that Rodgers played all 16 games, Green Bay averaged 27 points per game. Basically, no lead is safe. 

But Jay Gruden played it very safe with the offensive play calling in the second half. Alex Smith, who was on fire in the first half, attempted only five passes in the last 30 minutes. They had 57 yards rushing in the second half, 32 of which came on the Redskins final possession when they drove for a field goal, their only points of the final two quarters. 

It was a similar performance to their season opener against the Cardinals when they were up 21-0 at halftime and then posted just a field goal in the second quarter. 

While the lack of offense in the second half of the Redskins’ two wins has been a talking point among fans and in the media, the key point is that both games turned out in the Redskins’ favor. They now have a defense that Gruden can trust to hold a lead. 

In Arizona, the Redskins defense gave up a touchdown midway through the fourth quarter, but the lead was never in danger. On Sunday, a fourth-down stop and a takeaway kept the Packers game from ever getting to be a one-score game. 

In the second halves of their three games, including the Week 2 loss to the Colts, the Redskins have given up an average of 147 yards and seven points. It’s a small sample size but so far, they are doing a good job of shutting the door. 

Another thing the Redskins have been doing well defensively is preventing big plays. The longest play against them was the 64-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter against the Packers. Other than that, they have given up just four plays that gained over 20 yards and none longer than 27 yards. 

They are second in total defense. They are giving up a miniscule 4.3 adjusted net yards per pass attempt, a full two yards less than the league average. If you prefer to use the more traditional passer rating stat, opponents have compiled a 77.0, well below the league aggregate rating of 91.2. Again, it’s early but this is a good start. 

The Washington defense will need to keep it going the next two weeks. First up after the bye is Drew Brees of the Saints, who is healthy and completing over 80 percent of his passes. New Orleans also has running back Alvin Kamara, one of the best two-way threats in the game. After that is Cam Newton of the Panthers, who the Redskins never have beaten, and his dual-threat running back Christian McCaffrey.