Syracuse has difficult schedule, 4 of 5 on road


Syracuse has difficult schedule, 4 of 5 on road

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) Heading into the stretch run of the season, Syracuse is in deja vu mode.

The Orange (3-4, 2-1 Big East) are coming off a big win at home last Friday night and have five games remaining to put a positive stamp on the season.

A year ago, Syracuse routed highly ranked West Virginia at home on a Friday night to reach 5-2, then proceeded to lose its five remaining games to finish at 5-7 and miss the postseason.

The Orange are determined to avoid a repeat performance.

``A lot of us have been here before,'' quarterback Ryan Nassib said. ``We've experienced a high like this and seen what can happen. The unfortunateness of last year is kind of a good learning experience for us for this year. Now we know what we can't do.''

Last week's 40-10 win over Connecticut was impressive as the Orange excelled on both sides of the ball and on special teams. Although Syracuse did not commit a turnover, there still were three fumbles and the offense corralled all of them.

That alone has head coach Doug Marrone concerned as the Orange gets set to play at South Florida (2-5, 0-3) on Saturday night.

Forget any thoughts of a turnaround just yet.

``It's way too early for that,'' Marrone said. ``When you start putting back to back to back to back games where you have that type of consistency, I think that's when you can sit back and say, `You know what? We've put three or four in a row. We're starting to turn the corner.' But we still have a long way to go. That's a challenge for our players to step up.''

The Bulls have lost five straight, but they're 6-1 against Syracuse and the Orange have not won on the road yet this season. And if there is to be a turnaround, it will have to be accomplished away from the friendly confines of the Carrier Dome. Syracuse plays four of its final five games on the road, with the lone home game against Louisville in two weeks.

``I believe there are only two other teams in the country that have the same type of challenge - BYU and Ball State,'' Marrone said. ``The players are aware of it. It's a management situation of making sure a player is rested. That's where it becomes a Catch 22. You want to be a physical team, you have to practice to a certain extent that way during the week. But we have to be smart and make sure our players can get to the game.''

Although Rutgers, Louisville and Cincinnati are a combined 7-0 in the conference, Syracuse is still in the mix with Cincinnati also on its schedule, and the Orange hopes to use that win over UConn as a springboard.

``It was a good start to the second half of the season,'' Nassib said. ``Our next test is to make sure we keep this ball rolling.''

Marrone said Thursday that running back Adonis Ameen-Moore, who's scored three touchdowns on short-yardage plays in the red zone, freshman tailback Ashton Broyld, and punt returner Ritchy Desir were nursing injuries. Kick returner Jeremiah Kobena is expected to return to the lineup.

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Wizards Tipoff podcast: John Wall goes 1-on-1 to talk Bryce Harper's future, celebrity softball and the Summer League


Wizards Tipoff podcast: John Wall goes 1-on-1 to talk Bryce Harper's future, celebrity softball and the Summer League

On the latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast presented by Greenberg and Bederman, John Wall went 1-on-1 to talk Bryce Harper's future, the celebrity softball game and the Summer League.

Chase Hughes and Chris Miller broke down the parallels between Wall and Harper and why Wall has chosen to stay loyal to Washington in his own contract decisions. Plus, can the Wizards really tone down the talking this season?

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 2018 position outlook: Outside linebackers

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Redskins 2018 position outlook: Outside linebackers

Redskins Training camp opens next week, and we have a break here, giving us time to put the depth chart under the microscope.

Between now and the start of camp, we will look at every position, compare the group to the rest of the NFL, see if the position has been upgraded or downgraded from last year, and take out the crystal ball to see what might unfold.


Additions: Pernell McPhee (free agent)
Departures: Junior Galette (free agent)

Starters: Ryan Kerrigan, Preston Smith
Other roster locks: Ryan Anderson, McPhee
On the bubble: Pete Robertson

How the outside linebackers compare

To the rest of the NFL: By any measure, the Redskins had a top-10 pass rush last year. They were tied for seventh with 42 sacks and they got a sack on 7.3 percent of pass attempts, also seventh in the league. Looking forward to this year, Pro Football Focus has them ranked as the sixth-best pass rushing team for 2018. Ryan Kerrigan is showing no signs of slowing down as he approaches age 30 and Preston Smith is about to hit his prime. After the departure of Galette, the depth is questionable, and we’ll deal with that next. Even without Galette, it’s still one of the best units in the NFL. 

To the 2017 Redskins: Some downplay the decision to let Galette walk in free agency, saying he had just three sacks. But his value went beyond that. He had 9 QB hits and 25 hurries, both second-most on the team, in just 258 pass rush snaps. Someone will have to step up and replace that pressure. The spotlight will be on Anderson, who had no sacks after being a second-round pick. He will need to step up for this year’s Redskins pass rush to be as good as last year’s. 

2018 outside linebacker outlook

Biggest upside: Since the 2015 season, only one NFL player has at least 20 sacks, four forced fumbles, and three interceptions and it’s Preston Smith. His consistency is an issue but even when he is going for a few weeks between sacks he is getting pressure on the quarterback. Still, there is more ability there. Smith could set himself up for a big payday by breaking through with a double-digit sack season while continuing to make big plays in his contract year.

Most to prove: To be fair, Anderson did not get a whole lot of chances to rush the passer last year, playing just 81 pass rush snaps. Still, there are reasons to be concerned about how much he can produce after a zero-sack, one-hit, three-hurries 2017 debut season. Anderson was not expected to make a splash as a rookie, but more was anticipated. He was drafted where he was in part because of his work ethic. The Redskins hope he will work his way into a significant second-year leap. 

Rookie watch: There are no rookie outside linebackers on the roster. 

Bottom line: The main concern about the Redskins’ defense this year revolves around the cornerback spot following the departures of Kendall Fuller and Bashaud Breeland. The best way to manage problematic cornerbacks is by getting a strong pass rush. The Redskins need to Smith to have a true breakout season and for Anderson or McPhee to be a strong contributor off the bench. Along with the improved defensive line, the pass rush could transform the defensive line into a quality unit in 2018. 

2018 Redskins Position Outlook Series