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WVU in NFL: Geno Smith pulled at halftime, Keith Tandy picks his third

Written by Stephen J. Nesbitt on .

Geno Smith's nightmare rookie season hit another low on Sunday in the New York Jets' 23-3 loss to the Miami Dolphins.

Smith was 4-of-10 passing for 29 yards and an interception, and he was pulled at halftime in favor of Matt Simms, who went 9-of-18 for 79 yards and an interception.

“I'm just frustrated that we couldn’t come out with the victory,” said Smith. “I don’t have anything to say about anything else other than the fact that we didn’t get it done today on offense or as a team. We couldn’t get a victory and that’s very frustrating as a quarterback.”

He said the halftime switch was a decision made by the coaches.

"Obviously, you want to be out there," Smith said. "I always want to be out there with my teammates and always want to be out there fighting. The decision was made and my next move was to now be supportive of my teammates and be supportive of Matt and I tried my best to do that in that moment.”

The Jets are 5-7 and have lost three straight games. In the last four games, Smith hasn't eclipsed the 50-percent completions mark, and in that time he is 29-of-74 passing (39 percent) with no touchdowns and six interceptions. His last passing touchdown came six weeks ago.

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About the Islanders - 12-03-13

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

A preview of the Islanders.

When and where: 7 p.m. EST. Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

TV: Root Sports, MSG Plus, RDS.

Record: 8-15-4, 20 points. The Islanders are in last place in the Neapolitan Ice Cream Metropolitan Division.

Leading Scorer: John Tavares, 30 points (11 goals, 19 assists).

Last Game: 3-2 home overtime home loss to the Capitals, Saturday. Anders Nilsson made 27 saves for the Islanders.

Last Game against the Penguins: 4-3 road loss, Nov. 22. Thomas Vanek (right) had two goals for the Islanders.

Islanders Player We Would Bet Money On Scoring: Vanek. He has points in his last eight consecutive games against the Penguins.

Ex-Penguins on the Islanders: Eric Cairns, director of player development; Matt Carkner, D (Carkner played for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins but never reached the NHL level); Colin McDonald, RW; Garth Snow, general manager; Brian Strait, D.

Ex-Islanders on the Penguins: Dan Bylsma, head coach; Tom Fitzgerald, assistant to the general manager; Bill Guerin, player development coach.

Useless Islanders Trivia Vaguely Related to the Penguins: McDonald is one of two former Penguins who have worn No. 13 for the Islanders. The other is Guerin.

Best Islanders Video We Could Find: Christie Brinkley. Islanders fan:

Probable goaltenders: Marc-Andre Fleury (14-7-1, 2.06 GAA, .918 SV%) for the Penguins. Anders Nilsson (0-0-1, 2.47 GAA, .907 SV%) for the Islanders.

Injuries: For the Penguins, right wingers Beau Bennett (hand/wrist) Chuck Kobasew ("lower body"), defensemen Paul Martin (leg), Rob Scuderi (broken ankle), left winger Tanner Glass (hand) and goaltender Tomas Vokoun (blood clots) are on injured reserve. For the Islanders, defensemen Brian Strait ("upper body"), Lubomir Visnovsky (concussion) and goaltender Evgeni Nabokov (groin) are on injured reserve.

Potential lines and defensive pairings: The Penguins primary lines and defensive pairings at today's morning skate were:

14 Chris Kunitz - 87 Sidney Crosby - 9 Pascal Dupuis
36 Jussi Jokinen- 71 Evgeni Malkin - 18 James Neal
25 Andrew Ebbett - 16 Brandon Sutter - 23 Chris Conner
38 Zach Sill - 46 Joe Vitale - 27 Craig Adams

3 Olli Maata - 58 Kris Letang
44 Brooks Orpik - 5 Deryk Engelland
2 Matt Niskanen - 47 Simon Despres

-The Islanders expected lines and defensive pairings for tonight's games are:

26 Thomas Vanek – 91 John Tavares – 21 Kyle Okposo
40 Michael Grabner 51 Frans Nielsen – 12 Josh Bailey
96 Pierre-Marc Bouchard16 Peter Regin – 15 Cal Clutterbuck
17 Matt Martin53 Casey Cizikas – 13 Colin McDonald

47 Andrew MacDonald – 3 Travis Hamonic
14 Thomas Hickey – 44 Calvin de Haan
55 Aaron Ness – 7 Matt Carkner

Notes:

-The last time the Penguins played the Islanders, this happened:

-Malkin has 595 career points.

-Malkin was named the NHL's second star of November.

-The Islanders have lost six consecutive games.

-The Islanders have 99 regular season wins all-time against the Penguins.

-Our live blog, direct from our couch, begins at approximately 6:45 p.m. Please tune in.

(Photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

 

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Oliver Luck backs coaches after 4-8 season: 'We simply must get better'

Written by Stephen J. Nesbitt on .

West Virginia athletic director Oliver Luck released a statement Tuesday morning regarding the Mountaineer football team's 4-8 (2-7 Big 12) season.

Here is the statement in its entirety:


First, I want to thank all Mountaineer fans who supported our football team through a difficult and trying season. Though there were some high points this year, including our upset victory over No. 11 Oklahoma State and the inspired play from many first year student-athletes, there were far too many disappointments.

We have high expectations at West Virginia University for success on and off the field and as Coach Holgorsen has acknowledged to me, we are not meeting those expectations on the field. Coach Holgorsen and I met at length and reviewed this past season. We discussed the coaching staff, recruiting, player development, strength and conditioning, academic support, facilities, in short, all the components that make up a successful program. We are working diligently to improve our capabilities in all of these areas.

I strongly believe in our coaching staff, including the work that our strength and conditioning staff is doing. In my opinion, continuity is the key ingredient that will bring our football program back to the high level that Mountaineer fans expect.

We had plenty of challenges this season; nonetheless, we should not and will not use those as excuses for our performance. We simply must get better.

Coach Holgorsen and his staff are on the road recruiting this week, securing the future for a successful Mountaineer football program. We need to do our part as well by continuing to move forward with the facility improvements needed to compete at the highest level in our conference.

We have high expectations for the 2014 football team, and I have shared those with Coach Holgorsen. He and his staff are eager to get started to prepare for our opening game against Alabama. We are well aware that we have a lot of work to do.

We have tremendous student-athletes in our program and a very accomplished core of coaches who want to bring championships back to West Virginia University. We will do all we can to help them in that endeavor, and I ask for your continued support as we move forward to a brighter future.

Oliver Luck


Stephen J. Nesbitt: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , 412-290-2183 and Twitter @stephenjnesbitt.

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Travis Bell booked for DUI, second arrest in 10 months

Written by Stephen J. Nesbitt on .

Redshirt junior cornerback Travis Bell is facing DUI charges after being arrested early Sunday morning, his second arrest in 10 months after being arrested for misdemeanor domestic battery in February.

His status with the team is uncertain.

The incident, first reported by the Dominion Post, occurred at approximately 3 a.m. Sunday. After an argument with his girlfriend outside a parked vehicle at Creekside Condos in Morgantown, W.Va., Bell, 22, failed all field sobriety tests, was booked for DUI and driving with a suspended or revoked license. 

Bell was out on bond, according to a spokesperson for the Monongalia County sheriff's department.

Bell, a native of Belle Glade, Fla., had had his license suspended for failure to pay traffic fines.

He started nine games this fall and played in all 12, recording 45 tackles and an interception. He has one year of eligibility remaining.


Stephen J. Nesbitt: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. , 412-290-2183 and Twitter @stephenjnesbitt.

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Decisions of WPIAL players will greatly affect Pitt's recruiting class

Written by Mike White on .

Pitt's football recruiting class is very average so far, at least according to rankings. Rivals.com, scout.com and 247sports.com all have Pitt's class of 19 players ranked in the 40s nationally.

A handful of WPIAL players could have a big impact on whether Pitt's class makes a jump in the rankings.

Pitt is waiting for decisions from four top WPIAL players and at least two of them will make their decisions in the next few weeks. The four are Aliquippa defensive back Dravon Henry, Washington running back Shai McKenzie, Gateway defensive back Montae Nicholson and Mt. Lebanon offensive lineman Alex Bookser. Henry tweeted Monday night that he will make his decision next Monday and McKenzie plans to announce his decision Dec. 20. Nicholson and Bookser haven't said when they will make their decisions.

Pitt can't live off WPIAL players. These days, there just aren't enough top prospects in the area. But it certainly helps to get the best in the area and Henry, McKenzie, Nicholson and Bookser could have big effects on Pitt's class. Among Pitt's 19 recruits so far, the only four-star recruit (according to rivals.com) is offensive lineman Mike Grimm of Bethel Park. Henry, Nicholson and McKenzie are all four-star recruits, even though McKenzie played only three games this year because of a torn ACL.

Dravon HenryHenry (pictured) has changed his list of favorite schools a few times. Just last week he said Pitt, West Virginia, Miami, Maryland and Louisville were his top five and that he wanted to visit all of them. Now he says he is a week away from deciding.

The two constants on his list have always been Pitt and West Virginia - and one of them will win out. Coaches from both schools made visits with Henry at his home Sunday and Monday. Henry is being recruited as a defensive back, but he also played running back at Aliquippa.

McKenzie (pictured) is a few weeks away from announcing his decision and still has one more visit planned to Georgia Tech. His mother lives in the Atlanta area, but will that affect his decision? His other three Shai McKenziefinalists are Pitt, Virginia Tech and Florida State, and he has made official visits to all three.

McKenzie is rehabilitating from the knee injury he suffered early in the season. He had surgery on the knee. He plans to graduate early and start college the spring semester.

Bookser might not make a decision until January. He visited Tennessee two weekends ago and was scheduled to go to Penn State this past weekend. He has a visit planned to Ohio State this weekend and to Pitt in mid-January.

Nicholson has already made five official visits to Pitt, Florida State, Michigan State, Oregon and Virginia Tech.

Nicholson has said he would also like to possibly run track in college.

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