COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) -- Lyle McCombs and Scott McCummings both ran for touchdowns, and Nick Williams returned a punt for another score as Connecticut defeated Maryland 24-21 Saturday. McCombs rushed for 94 yards and his fourth-quarter touchdown. McCummings, who also came in at quarterback occasionally, ran for a 3-yard score that gave the Huskies a 14-0 first-half lead. That came after Williams scored the game's first touchdown on a 58-yard punt return. Connecticut (2-1) started quickly in going against their former coach, Randy Edsall, who left after 2010 to come to Maryland (2-1). Both sides spent much of the week downplaying talk of any hard feelings. The Huskies outgained Maryland 148-80 in total yardage in the first half and controlled the ball for 18 minutes, 40 seconds. They also came up with timely plays, converting four of nine third-down situations to keep the Maryland offense off the field. Connecticut opened the scoring on Williams' 58-yard punt return, and Chad Christen's extra point gave the Huskies a 7-0 lead with 7:05 left in the first quarter. They took advantage of a short field to score their second touchdown, gaining possession at the Maryland 36 after the Terrapins were forced to punt from their 4. McCummings' 3-yard run seven plays later made it 14-0 with 12:35 left in the half. Maryland's offense finally awakened on the next possession. A key play came on fourth-and-4 from the Connecticut 37, when quarterback Perry Hills completed an 18-yard pass to Stefon Diggs. One play later, Wes Brown ran for a 19-yard touchdown, and Brad Craddock's extra point cut the lead to 14-7 with 10:24 remaining in the half. Connecticut linebacker Yawin Smallwood sacked Hills and forced a third-quarter fumble that Angelo Pruitt recovered for the Huskies at the Maryland 23. They couldn't pick up a first down, but Christen kicked a 34-yard field goal with 3:29 left in the quarter for a 17-7 lead. Smallwood caused problems for the Terrapins throughout the game, with four of his 14 tackles going for losses, including three sacks. After a 75-yard drive, Maryland made it 17-14 on the second play of the fourth quarter when Hills threw a 29-yard touchdown pass to Stefon Diggs on third-and-10. The Terrapins' Marcus Leak tipped the pass and Diggs grabbed it for a touchdown to make it 17-14. But the Huskies answered on their next possession, driving 76 yards to take a 24-14 lead on McCombs' 11-yard touchdown run. Hills ran for a 10-yard touchdown that cut the Connecticut lead to 24-21 with 4:39 left. After getting the ball back following a Huskies punt, Maryland reached the Connecticut 39 before its drive stalled with 17 seconds left.
On the latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast presented by Greenberg and Bederman, Chris Miller caught up with Michigan star Moe Wagner after his workout with the Wizards.
Chris and Chase Hughes also gave their impressions of the first prospects to come in for pre-draft workouts, including which guys are most likely to be Wizards. One of those prospects is a point guard and a likely first round pick. Chase and Chris explain why that's not a crazy idea, even considering the presence of John Wall on their roster.
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The NFL has passed two major on-field rule changes in the last two months. One, the rule that prohibits players from lowering their helmets to initiate contact with another player. That one passed during the spring meetings in March but it was just recently clarified. The other one changes how kickoffs are executed.
Both rules, designed to make the game safer for the players, could have a major impact on the game. And the Redskins are still a little unclear about how to handle them.
Safety D.J. Swearinger is one of the Redskins’ hardest hitters. After saying that the helmet-lowering rule, which is outlined in some detail in this video from the NFL, would not affect him because he hits low, he wondered why he was even wearing a hard hat at work.
“I’ve got a helmet on, but I can’t use it or hit nobody with it, might as well take the helmet off if you ask me,” said Swearinger following the Redskins’ OTA practice on Wednesday.
As of Wednesday afternoon, coach Jay Gruden had not yet been filled in on the details of the helmet-lowering rule. He said that the team will sort it out over the three and a half months between now and the start of the regular season.
“The lowering of the helmet, I don’t know which ones they decided to go with, so we’ll see,” he said. “I know there’s been a lot of talk about bull rushes and they’re trying to obviously protect the players, but we’ve just got to be careful.”
Gruden said that special teams coach Ben Kotwica went to meetings to help hash out the kickoff rule. What they ended up with looks a lot like another special teams play according to the player who will be executing the kickoffs.
“It looks like they’re trying to make it more like a punt,” said kicker Dustin Hopkins. Among the similarities are that the kicking team will not be able to get a running start as the kicker approaches the ball. They will have to be stationary a yard away from the line where the ball is until it is kicked.
The league probably will be happy if the play does more closely resemble a punt. The injury rate on punt plays is much lower than it is on kickoffs.
Some believe that this change will lead to longer kickoff returns. Gruden didn’t disagree, but he said that he needs more information.
“I think without the guys getting a running start, number one, it could be,” he said. “I think it’s just something I have to see it before I can really make any judgments on it.”
The new rule prohibits wedge blocking meaning that you are unlikely to see any offensive linemen on kickoffs as they were used primarily to create or break wedges.
“I think for the most part, you’re going to see more speed guys,” said Gruden.
The Redskins will start to wrap their heads around the new rule during the next three weeks, when they have their final two weeks of OTAs and then minicamp before the break for training camp. Gruden said that they will continue to work on it in Richmond. He said that the joint practices with the Jets and the four preseason game will be important for sorting out just how the team will implement kickoffs.
The best way to handle it might be to just let Hopkins pound the ball into the end zone every time. Last year 72.5 percent of his kickoffs went for touchbacks. He could have had more touchbacks, but he occasionally was told to kick it high to force a return with the hope of getting better field position. But if the rules lead to longer returns it may not be worth the risk.
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