Nationals

West rides turnovers to 28-13 win in Shrine Game

201301191625591235683-p2.jpeg

West rides turnovers to 28-13 win in Shrine Game

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) Collin Klein hoped to use the East-West Shrine Game as his first opportunity to prove he has the ability to play quarterback on the NFL level.

The Heisman Trophy finalist and Kansas State star left the field with only more questions surrounding his game, though, and just a handful of months to provide potential suitors with the answers they're seeking.

Klein struggled in his first all-star game NFL audition, completing just 5 of 13 passes for 43 yards and an interception as his West team fell to the East 28-13 on Saturday.

Illinois cornerback Terry Hawthorne had a fumble recovery to set up a touchdown and an interception in the second half to lead a West team that came away with four total turnovers on the day.

Klein acknowledged he didn't have the kind of day he wanted, but said his confidence isn't shaken moving forward.

``I felt pretty good. We were a little rough, made a lot of mistakes and penalties that kept getting us in bad down-and-distances,'' Klein said. ``But I think I got better and I learned a lot this week. We're moving on.''

Klein brushed off questions throughout the week about his unorthodox throwing motion and was adamant that he had no intention of switching positions at the next level despite his ability to run the ball.

He looked uncomfortable in the pocket throwing to unfamiliar receivers Saturday, but said it was good training for the future.

``It's good practice because that's what it's going to be in a couple of months when you go to your team and kind of get it figured out,'' Klein said.

While Klein struggled in the spotlight on Saturday, the defensive guys on both sides of the ball made the most of it.

The West never trailed in the showcase for NFL hopefuls and was sparked by a defense that had four turnovers, including a 30-yard interception return for a score by Klein's former teammate, cornerback Nigel Malone.

The West also got a strong offensive effort from Texas A&M running back Christine Michael, who rushed for 42 yards and touchdown.

Arizona quarterback Matt Scott had the only passing touchdown of the game, finding Mississippi State receiver Chad Bumphis for a 57-yard score. Scott finished 3 of 4 for 81 yards.

Another West quarterback, Alex Carder (Western Michigan) also had a good passing day for the West, throwing for 95 yards. He did throw a late interception.

Bumphis was named the offensive MVP.

``I didn't exactly finish how I wanted to in the Fiesta Bowl, but this meant to a lot to come out here and play my last real college game and come out with a `W','' Malone said.

The West controlled the game from out outset, compiling 18 first downs to the East's 11. The West team also held the ball on offense more than 12 minutes longer.

The East defense came away with four turnovers, but its offense was only able to turn one of them - a muffed punt late in the third quarter - into a touchdown.

Klein looked most comfortable when he was forced to scramble, and led his team in rushing with 35 yards. But neither he, nor any of the other East quarterbacks were able to find anybody in space for big plays.

The West turned a pair of East first-half turnovers into touchdowns as it built a 21-13 halftime lead.

East running back Ray Graham (Pittsburgh) fumbled on the first play of the game and it was recovered by Hawthorne inside the East 20.

West receiver Anthony Amos (Middle Tennessee State) scored on an end around six plays later to put West up 7-0.

That lead was 7-3 when Scott's 57-yard touchdown pass down the sideline to Bumphis pushed it to 14-3.

The West's defense got its second turnover of the half just six seconds later when Malone picked off Louisiana Tech's Colby Cameron and returned it 30 yards for a score.

After watching Klein thrive during their time together at Kansas State, Malone said that he has no doubt that he can bounce back from Saturday's performance.

``It's all up to the team to come out and take a chance on him,'' Malone said. ``I think when you really get him in a nice scheme and coach him up, I think he's going to be really successful. People who are humble and have good character and put God first are always successful in life.''

---

Follow Kyle Hightower on Twitter athttp://www.twitter.com/khightower

Quick Links

Stephen Strasburg makes history at the plate against Atlanta

stephen_strasburg_nationals_pitching_usat.jpg
USA Today

Stephen Strasburg makes history at the plate against Atlanta

Stephen Strasburg had the best hitting performance of his career against the Braves Thursday night, going 3-3 at the plate with two singles and a 420-foot three-run bomb. 

He didn't just set personal records but reached rare air in baseball history. He's the second pitcher ever with at least three hits, a HR, and five RBI since the DH debuted in 1973 and the fifth pitcher in the last 50 seasons to get two hits in an inning including a home run. 

Strasburg set franchise firsts with his performance, dating all the way back to the Expos. 

An extraordinary milestone for the Nationals' ace, hopefully Strasburg's performance will inspire the team during a crucial four-game series with Atlanta. 

MORE NATIONALS NEWS:

Quick Links

‘The Redskins love Alabama guys’: Washington could run old draft playbook in 2020 to fill huge need

jerry-jeudy-henry-ruggs-usat.jpg
USA TODAY Sports Images

‘The Redskins love Alabama guys’: Washington could run old draft playbook in 2020 to fill huge need

Perhaps no position group on the Redskins has more questions or uncertainty than the wide receivers.

Josh Doctson enters the final year of his rookie contract, and has yet to record over 550 yards in any of his three professional seasons. Washington signed Paul Richardson to a five-year deal in 2018, but he just played in just seven games for the Burgundy and Gold in 2018 before having season-ending shoulder surgery. Second-year receiver Trey Quinn is expected to fill the role in the slot after Jamison Crowder departed for the New York Jets this offseason but has yet to prove anything on the NFL level. 

The Redskins addressed the position during the 2019 NFL Draft, selecting Terry McLaurin in the third round and Kelvin Harmon in the sixth round. But it's unclear how much either one will contribute to the Washington offense in 2019.

So, it's likely the Redskins will need to address the position during the 2020 NFL Draft, and probably very early on it. Well, this works in Washington's favor, because the 2020 wide receiver class is loaded. 

On a recent episode of the Redskins Talk podcast, J.P. Finlay and Pete Hailey spoke with NFL Draft expert Jordan Reid (no, not the Redskins' tight end) about the top wide receiver prospects heading into next year's draft, and which players the Redskins could potentially target.

Before diving into the top 2020 prospects, Reid gave an initial assessment of the current Redskins' receivers.

"The Redskins just don't have that headliner, top go-to guy," Reid said. "They were expecting Josh Doctson to be that when they did draft him in the first round of 2016. But he's had some injuries, and he's already come out and said he's looking forward to free agency. That just not something you want to hear."

Reid was high on McLaurin, though, the first receiver the Redskins selected in 2019.

"They drafted Terry McLaurin in the third round, I liked him a lot even going back to the Senior Bowl," he said. "I think he's going to have a really good year, not just as a receiver but the special teams phase as well. He's going to flash in a lot of ways."

As far as the 2020 draft wide receiver class, one school stands on top, and it's a school the Redskins are very familiar with: Alabama. The Redskins used their first-round picks in 2017 and 2018 on 'Bama guys and signed another Crimson Tide alumni this offseason in safety Landon Collins.

"We know the Redskins love Alabama guys, and there's a lot of [wide receivers] coming out this year," Reid said. "It's not just Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs is another guy that's getting a lot of steam. They're going to have the chance to get the receiver they want. This is a very special wide receiver class."

Crimson Tide receiver Jerry Jeudy is the consensus top receiver in next year's class, but Reid believes his speedy teammate could challenge him for that spot by season's end.

"With Ruggs, I think he's a bit more as far as polished a route runner [than Jeudy]," he said. "I think his hands are a bit better, and I wouldn't be shocked if he runs below a 4.3 at the combine. He can absolutely fly."

If the pair of Alabama receivers currently hold the top two spots for best wide receiver prospect, there's another guy who's right on their heels: Oklahoma's Ceedee Lamb.

"He reminds me a lot of DeAndre Hopkins coming out," Reid said on Lamb. "He's not a thick guy, but he plays much stronger than what he indicates. Very reliable hands, and his body control is out of this world. He had a one-handed catch against UCLA, it didn't count, but it's truly amazing."

As a true sophomore, Lamb totaled 1,158 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2018. Sure, it may have helped to have Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray under center, but Lamb has proven he's an elite talent.

Two other prospects Reid is keeping an eye on are Colorado's Laviska Shenault Jr. and Texas' Collin Johnson.

"He's not as polished as some of these other guys, but he's more of a do-it-all type of receiver," Reid said on Shenault Jr. 

Where Shenault may be a do-it-all receiver, Johnson plays to his 6'6 size.

"He's a really good route runner," Reid said on Johnson. "It's just a matter of how consistently can he separate, and how fast he is. If he goes to the Senior Bowl, I think he can light it up."

While many of these guys seem like sure-fire guys, there's still a full season of football to be played before the draft. Players will rise, but just as many, if not more, will fall off.

"You just have to let this play out, that's what happens with the draft process," Reid said. "Guys fall off, and then you have guys that come out of nowhere. Quinton Williams from last year is a prime example. He was a 270-pound defensive end at this time last year; we had no idea who he was and he ends up being the No. 3 overall selection."

But if everything plays out close to how it's expected to, this wide receiver draft class will be one to remember. 

"This class is special man," Reid said. "I think it's going to rival 2014, with Odell Beckham Jr., Sammy Watkins, Mike Evans and all those guys, Jarvis Landry, Davante Adams too. It's going to be very similar to that. It's very special."

MORE REDSKINS NEWS: