Texas A&M has won ugly, but here comes LSU

Texas A&M has won ugly, but here comes LSU

COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) Texas A&M has won five straight games. The last two wins for the 20th-ranked Aggies have been far from perfect.

They had six turnovers in a 30-27 win over Ole Miss two weeks ago and piled up 19 penalties in a 59-57 victory against Louisiana Tech last Saturday. Winning ugly has worked the past two weeks, but coach Kevin Sumlin knows his team will need to be much better this week when it hosts No. 6 LSU (6-1).

He believes changing that starts well before his team steps on the field.

``How you approach a game and how you approach what you're doing is important,'' he said. ``Our guys are starting to understand that approach to the game doesn't start late in the week, it starts early in the week. The three areas of preparation (are) emotional, mental, physical - you've got to have all three. In games that are close, you're going to get tested in all three areas.''

The most upsetting of A&M's mistakes were the four personal fouls in the second half of last week's game. Those are errors that Sumlin told the team were selfish and he wants to make sure they are eliminated as the Aggies (5-1) get into the heart of their Southeastern Conference schedule.

``We plan on getting that fixed,'' senior offensive lineman Patrick Lewis said. ``We can't be selfish football players and expect to win. Fifteen yards can really hurt us against a team like LSU.''

The first-year Texas A&M coach has made it clear that penalties like that will not be tolerated and has implemented things in practice to let the team know he is serious.

``There's a lot of consequences being put out there right now for those type of penalties,'' Lewis said. ``You have to see the strength coaches and do some extra running and some punishment work. Just to get us prepared and make sure we don't make those mistakes again. Because they can cost us a lot of games.''

Texas A&M is averaging more than 72 yards of penalties a game, which is tied for 17th most in the country. It's not just the offense that is being reminded about getting that number down. The defense knows double-digit penalties won't be acceptable against LSU.

``If we have 19 penalties against this team and keep their offense on the field and allow them to sustain drives with what we're giving them and not what they've earned, then it will be a very long day for us defensively,'' linebacker Jonathan Stewart said.

The Aggies took better care of the ball against Louisiana Tech than they did two weeks ago against Ole Miss. But they still had two turnovers last week, including an interception by Johnny Manziel which was returned for a touchdown, and didn't force any turnovers. Their turnover woes are a new development, after they had just one giveaway in their first four games combined.

Now they'll face a team tied for 12th in the country in forcing turnovers with 16. The Aggies don't have to remind Manziel, their freshman quarterback, of the importance of ball security against one of the top defenses in the country.

``Whatever we ask him to do, he is going to do to the best of his ability,'' offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury said. ``It doesn't matter if he's perfect, but he is going to fight and fight to try to help his teammates win the game.''

Quick Links

Redskins365 Episode 1: The Future Starts Now

Redskins365 Episode 1: The Future Starts Now

Over the 2019 offseason, the Washington Redskins periodically released episodes to a new series called "Redskins 365". Here, viewers can get an all-access look into all the important moments leading up to the 2019-20 season. In episode 1 titled "The Future Starts Now" the Redskins begin their journey toward improvement following the conclusion of the 2018-19 campaign.

The episode begins immediately following the disappointing end to Washington's season as players participated in locker cleanout day. A somewhat somber atmosphere, the likes of Shaun Dion Hamilton, Adrian Peterson, Ryan Kerrigan and Trent Williams reflect on the season and look ahead to 2019.

Following that, it's on to the additions and changes on the coaching staff. Head coach Jay Gruden gives his thoughts on new defensive staff hirings Ray Horton and Rob Ryan as well as Kevin O'Connell's jump to offensive coordinator. Ryan and O'Connell also explain their excitement for next season in their respective roles.

With the coaching staff puzzle becoming clear, the episode transitions to the NFL Combine. Gruden along with Senior Vice President of Player Personnel Doug Williams, President Bruce Allen and Director of College Scouting Kyle Smith take you through the Combine process. Discussions about the interview process and what the Redskins are looking for in players give insight into how evaluations are done. 

The Combine portion has a heavy focus on players Kyler Murray, D.K. Metcalf and Montez Sweat among others. Released on March 20, one can see and hear from Sweat before the idea of him becoming a Redskin came to fruition and listen to Metcalf's thoughts on Jay Gruden.

Head Strength and Conditioning Coach Chad Englehart also makes an appearance, discussing his viral moment with Ed Oliver at the combine and the fraternity-type bond conditioning coaches in the NFL share.

Washington's journey toward success in 2019 began the moment the clock ran out on the 2018 season. Episode 1 of "Redskins365" picks up right in that preliminary stage.


Quick Links

SPOILER ALERT! Wizards make appearance in New York Times crossword on Sunday

SPOILER ALERT! Wizards make appearance in New York Times crossword on Sunday

Fans of both crossword puzzles and the Washington Wizards had a leg-up when completing the New York Times crossword puzzle on Sunday. 

The clue: "Wizards, but not witches."

The answer: 7 letters, "NBATEAM." 

This isn't the first time famous crosswords have included sports-related clues. The Washington Post and LA Times have used Bobby Orr as an answer many of times (trust me, we always have a half-finished crossword puzzle hiding somewhere in our living room). 

But athletes aren't the only answers to clues. Remember when the Post's Isabelle Khurshudyan revealed the Washington Capitals' "cult of crossword men" back in 2016?

The New York Times even published a list of the top-10 sports names to know for crossword fanatics everywhere. 

Just further proof that sports continue to permeate every aspect of life.