Redskins

Target on the No. 2 Ducks in the Pac-12

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Target on the No. 2 Ducks in the Pac-12

USC coach Lane Kiffin insists his team isn't looking ahead to its game against No. 2 Oregon, while Arizona State coach Todd Graham admits it was hard not to. And Washington's Steve Sarkisian is trying not to look back.

At the halfway point of their season, the Ducks have yet to face the teams that many believe pose their biggest challenge in Pac-12 play, including No. 11 USC and No. 17 Stanford.

The list also includes the Pac-12 South-leading Sun Devils, who face Oregon next Thursday, and No. 10 Oregon State, which gets the Ducks in the annual Civil War at season's end.

But at 6-0, speedy Oregon appears to be racing toward the Pac-12 championship and beyond. Just ask the Huskies, who lost 52-21 to the Ducks last weekend.

``We have a hungry team,'' Oregon running back Kenjon Barner said. ``I will just leave it at that.''

With USC back in the postseason this year and ranked No. 1 in the preseason, many circled the meeting between the Trojans and the Ducks on Nov. 3 as a preview of the conference championship game between the league's north and south divisions. Then USC lost to Stanford, and the Cardinal lost to Washington, taking some of the shine off the showdown.

``We're not playing well enough to be looking forward to anybody, obviously we've already had one screw-up,'' Kiffin said this week, adding somewhat unconvincingly: ``I don't know if our guys even know when that game is.''

What hasn't diminished is the speculation about whether anyone in the Pac-12 can take the Ducks down. The Trojans, who defeated Oregon last season at Autzen Stadium, get the Ducks at the Coliseum. The Cardinal visit Eugene Nov. 17.

The surprise in all of this is the Beavers, who went 3-9 last season but are 4-0 to open this one. The Ducks will visit Reser Stadium, where the Beavs are notorious for pulling off big upsets, on the weekend after Thanksgiving.

But Oregon State was hit this past week when starting quarterback Sean Mannion injured his left knee and required surgery. There's no timetable for the sophomore's return, but there's a chance he could be back in time for the Ducks. The Beavers are playing junior Cody Vaz, who has not started since high school, in the meantime.

Oregon State (4-0, 3-0) plays out of the conference at BYU on Saturday, while USC (4-1, 2-1) is at Washington (3-2, 1-1), and Stanford (4-1, 2-1) is at Notre Dame (5-0).

Oregon, which is off this weekend, ranks seventh nationally in total offense with an average of 542 yards, fourth in scoring with an average of 52.3 points a game, and fourth in rushing with just over 302 yards a game.

``I would say off the top of my head, just from watching their scores and the game (against Washington) the other night, their defense is probably the best it has been, even with losing their safety, and their offense just continues to plug people, it doesn't matter who it is,'' Kiffin said.

``There's a reason they're No. 2 in the country,'' Kiffin added.

Sarkisian singled out Oregon redshirt freshman Marcus Mariota, who follows a string of mobile quarterbacks from Dennis Dixon to Jeremiah Masoli to Darron Thomas. Mariota is tied (with USC's Matt Barkley) for the most touchdown passes in the Pac-12 with 15. He's thrown five interceptions. His passing efficiency rating is 156.42, 21st in the nation.

``None of them had the speed that Marcus has. That's been one of the biggest differences in preparing for them and the ultimately seeing them live and in person,'' Sarkisian said. ``His ability to escape and his ability to create is much different than the last guys.''

Mike Leach, the new coach of Washington State, also had a firsthand look at the Ducks. The Cougars lost 51-26. Before that, Oregon blanked Arizona 49-0.

Leach was asked this week about the ongoing speculation about Oregon's postseason chances on the national stage. The Ducks played in the BCS title game two seasons ago but lost 22-19 to Auburn.

``They're real well-coached; they're quick,'' Leach said. ``I don't know that they're as physical as some other teams that might be in the conversation.''

But before all of that, the Ducks have Arizona State (5-1, 3-0) which sits atop the Pac-12's South Division. The Sun Devils defeated Colorado 51-17 on Thursday night at Folsom Field before next Thursday's game at home against the Ducks.

``I can tell you for the last week and a half I've been watching Oregon every day. It's hard not to do that especially when everyone keeps asking you about it,'' Graham said. ``I will tell you that our players didn't look at Oregon at all. ... It's hard to get guys up for every game but you got to, you got to get up for every single week and it won't be hard to get them up this week.''

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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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