Golson proving to be the right fit for surging Notre Dame

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Golson proving to be the right fit for surging Notre Dame

Everett Golson went into a hostile environment for the first time in his collegiate career, and he came away with a clean sheet.

Fourteen completions on 32 passes may not look impressive. Same goes for Golson's 178 passing yards, and one touchdown to go with them. Nobody's confusing Golson for a Heisman candidate.

But he didn't turn the ball over on Saturday, allowing the Notre Dame defense to lock down on Michigan State's defense. Notre Dame's defense didn't have its back up against the wall at any point, and in turn were able to keep the Spartans out of the end zone.

Golson's only coughed the ball up twice this season. The first came when he missed a route and forced a pass to Tyler Eifert against Navy, which nearly resulted in a Midshipmen score until Stephon Tuitt scooped up a fumble and sprinted 77 yards for a touchdown. The second was a fumble inside Notre Dame's red zone, and it resulted in Purdue tying things up late in the team's win Sept. 8.

That's not to say those have been Golson's only two mistakes. He threw two balls a week ago that Purdue cornerback Josh Johnson easily could've picked off. Maybe he'll throw a costly interception at some point, but if he does, it'll probably be an isolated incident.

Last year, Tommy Rees threw 14 interceptions, and in a lot of cases they weren't isolated. He threw two interceptions in three of Notre Dame's five losses, and combined with Andrew Hendrix to throw a pair of picks in another defeat.

So far, Golson has looked calm under pressure. Sure, he wasn't given the chance to perform under pressure against Purdue, but he didn't look rattled against a fearsome Michigan State defense in East Lansing.

Coach Brian Kelly still sees room for improvement with Golson, which is pretty obvious. Notre Dame's offensive potential is a whole lot higher than one that just needs to avoid turnovers.

"He did some really good things, but we've got a long way to go," Kelly said of Golson. "He needs to continue to stay on task, Everett, and continue to develop each and every week. There are a lot of things. We are so far from where we need to be offensively. I think a lot of it is just in the stuff that we're doing right now. We don't need to extend the playbook any deeper."

While the defense will be without senior safety Jamoris Slaughter, who was lost for the season with an Achilles injury, it's a strong, talented group. And it's shown to be one that's good enough to carry an offense that's still growing with Golson under center, at least in the first quarter of the season.

Kelly says Notre Dame's offense is nowhere where it needs to be. There's a chance the Irish won't reach that point in 2012. There will be bumps along the road between now and the end of November.

But maybe Notre Dame's offense won't need to reach its full potential for the team to have success -- that's if Golson continues what he's done in these three games. Limit turnovers, and the players around him may be good enough to keep racking up the wins.

Former Blackhawks D-man Trevor Daley reflects on bittersweet postseason with Penguins

Former Blackhawks D-man Trevor Daley reflects on bittersweet postseason with Penguins

Trevor Daley’s hearing the same chatter in the Pittsburgh Penguins this season as he did with the Blackhawks last fall.

“It feels a lot like when I started last year with Chicago, where a lot of guys were speaking the same thing: ‘We want to try to do it again,’” Daley said on Wednesday evening. “I felt I was in that situation with the same feeling with the guys around me, so it was an exciting time.”

Well, there is one difference this time around. When Daley was traded to the Blackhawks in the summer of 2015 he didn’t know that feeling of winning a Stanley Cup. Now, he does. After the Blackhawks traded Daley to Pittsburgh he became a key part of the Penguins’ run to their Cup triumph.

Daley fit in immediately with the Penguins because they all found common ground: he wasn’t the only one going through changes at the time. Daley was traded to Pittsburgh two days after the team named Mike Sullivan its new head coach.

“The way they were going with a new coach coming in, I think everyone was happy to have a fresh start, including myself. I felt I was in the same situation they were,” Daley said. “It all worked out obviously in the long run. But a lot for my success had to do with being on the same page as everyone else.”

Daley suffered a fractured ankle in late May, missing the rest of the postseason. But after the Penguins won the Cup in Game 6 against the San Jose Sharks, Daley, on the ice in full uniform and skates, was the first to get the Cup from captain Sidney Crosby.

“When you get to hoist that thing,” Daley said. “There’s nothing better than that.”

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The postseason was bittersweet for Daley, as his mother became ill with cancer as the playoffs began. She got to see Daley hoist the Cup on June 13. Sadly, she died on June 21.

“Pittsburgh was great to me. I got to go home in between series. When I had time off I got to see her and when I got hurt I got to spend more time with her. It did make it bittersweet,” Daley said. “Before she passed she would always say, ‘Why are you here? I want you to be playing.’ But under the circumstances, at least I got to say I got to spend a little more time with her.”

The Penguins are waiting for a few players, including Crosby, to return from the World Cup. Who knows how the season unfolds but much like last fall, Daley is part of the let’s-try-to-repeat talk.

“We’re excited for those guys to be able to have the opportunity they have [at World Cup]. We get to watch the best player in the world doing what he does, knowing he’s coming back to us,” Daley said of Crosby. “We’ve been enjoying it; we’ve been staying in touch with them while they’re gone. Most of them are back now. Those guys are going to be ready to go. They’ve already played some big games, so it’ll be good.”

Bears have run hurry-up offense, Brian Hoyer style

Bears have run hurry-up offense, Brian Hoyer style

Brian Hoyer spent Wednesday’s practice as the presumptive No. 1 quarterback, sources said, and with Jay Cutler limited due to his thumb injury, the Bears began prep for the Detroit Lions next Sunday in Soldier Field with Hoyer getting more used to the offense that he has only sparingly run since training camp.

Some of Hoyer’s teammates spent Wednesday’s practice getting a little more used to him.

A veteran of 27 NFL starts, Hoyer doesn’t do things the way Cutler does them. He doesn’t throw as hard. He doesn’t throw as far. And he runs a sort-of hurry-up offense compared to Cutler.

“Hoyer has a real good sense of urgency to him,” said left tackle Charles Leno Jr. “He’s more fast paced. He likes to quicken up things, whether it’s the cadence, the flow – he just has a real natural sense of urgency about himself.”

This involves more than just a feeling. The Bears ARE faster under Hoyer, based on one very unofficial measure, because game situations differ even though the Bears ultimately lost all three games.

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Based on snaps and time played, the Bears have run 2.2 plays per minute with Cutler. They have run 2.6 per minute, approaching 20 percent more, under “urgent” Hoyer.

The play rate, however, is not entirely on the quarterback. Like all teams, the Bears build tempos into their system, and defenses also dictate some of how the Bears elect to work.

Still, “Jay is more laid back, more relaxed, even-keeled,” Leno said, smiling. “But that’s just Hoyer, more sense of urgency."