Kelly: Golson should be 100 percent for OU game

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Kelly: Golson should be 100 percent for OU game

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Brian Kelly decided Friday he didn't want Everett Golson to play against BYU, citing health concerns following a concussion the redshirt freshman suffered against Stanford.

So Tommy Rees started Saturday, leaving many to wonder if it would finally spur the quarterback controversy that logic says should've materialized a few weeks ago.

But, as has been the case since Week 2, Kelly reiterated that Golson is Notre Dame's starting quarterback. He'll regain that role next week for Notre Dame's biggest game of the year to date, a showdown with No. 9 Oklahoma in Norman that carries plenty of BCS implications.

"He wanted to play," Kelly said, adding there was no chance Golson was going to play against BYU. "He made his case. I just felt like where we were (during the week) and my evaluation of him cumulatively, I felt like this was the best thing to do. He was supportive, he was great on the sideline. But he clearly, he really wanted to get in there as well.

"We feel like we've got a kid now that's 100 percent ready to go for Oklahoma."

Rees didn't blow the hinges off Notre Dame's depth chart on Saturday, though, completing seven of 16 attempts for 117 yards. He threw for a touchdown and was picked off, although the latter was hardly his fault -- wide receiver DaVaris Daniels whiffed on a pass, which bounced off his face mask and into the waiting hands of BYU linebacker Kyle Van Noy.

One thing Rees did show that Golson hasn't this year was a connection with tight end Tyler Eifert, although it was fleeting. All of Eifert's stats were compiled in the first quarter, with Rees finding him four times for 73 yards and a touchdown. Those four receptions were as many as Eifert had Oct. 13 against Stanford, and were one more than he had against Michigan State, Michigan and Miami combined.

"There's no magic there," Kelly said. "They clearly are very close friends, we all know that. They have been together for a while. But the routes were called to get him the football and we connected on those opportunities."

But the opportunities dried up in the second quarter, as Rees didn't attempt a pass in the final 15 minutes before the half. Rees didn't complete a pass from the start of the second quarter until the final seconds of the third, and then only threw once in the fourth. As the game progressed, it became clear if Notre Dame was going to win it, it was going to be on the ground.

So while Golson's development has become a series-by-series process, perhaps he wouldn't have gained much by playing Saturday.

"He could have reversed, pivoted and handed the ball off like Tommy did 30, 40 times in a row," Kelly said. "I think when we cut through all of this, my gut feeling was I wanted to err on the side of caution relative to playing him."

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Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks battle Bruins tonight on CSN

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks battle Bruins tonight on CSN

Watch as the Blackhawks take on the Boston Bruins tonight on CSN and streaming live on CSNChicago.com. Coverage begins at 5:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live. Then stick around after the final buzzer to watch Blackhawks Postgame Live for highlights and analysis.

Click here to watch the game or download the NBC Sports App, your home for live streaming coverage of the Blackhawks.

Five Things to Watch:

1. Scott Darling gets the nod.

Joel Quenneville is giving a struggling Corey Crawford a breather tonight, electing to go with Darling in the final game of the father's road trip. Darling is 11-4-2 with a 2.34 goals against average, .924 save percentage and one shutout in 20 games this season. His numbers aren't as great on the road, where he is 4-2-1 with a 2.83 GAA and .901 save percentage compared to a 7-2-1 record with a 1.98 GAA and .928 save percentage at home, but he fared well against Boston last season. The Lemont native stopped 42 of 46 shots, good for a .913 save percentage, in a 6-4 win at the United Center last April.

2. The Panarin-Anisimov-Kane line.

The Blackhawks' trio of Artem Anisimov, Patrick Kane and Artemi Panarin had a rare zero points in Tuesday's 6-4 win over Colorado, but don't expect to see that again. In fact, it could be the opposite. In their last meeting against the Bruins, a 6-4 win on April 3 during the 2015-16 season, they combined for 11 points (five goals, six assists), highlighted by a Kane hat trick that put him at 100 points on the season for the first time in his career. 

3. How the rookies build off a monsterous game.

In arguably the most well-rounded victory of the season Tuesday in Colorado, the Blackhawks had three rookies that had multi-point efforts. Vinnie Hinostroza had two goals, including the game winner. Tanner Kero had two goals and one assist, while Nick Schmaltz also had a goal and an assist. It was the top-six that was doing the heavy lifting earlier in the season, now the bottom-six is slowly starting to contribute on a consistent basis. The Blackhawks will be in great shape if they can confidently roll four lines that have the potential to find the back of the net on any given shift.

4. Patrice Bergeron vs. Jonathan Toews.

Two of the best two-way centers in the league will go head-to-head, and it's always a fun matchup to watch. Bergeron leads the league with 597 faceoff wins, and is ranked fifth with a 58.4 percentage at the dot while Toews ranks eighth in wins with 473 — despite missing nine games with a back injury — and sits at sixth with a 57.5 percentage. Both of the perennial Selke Trophy candidates have struggled offensively this season, with Bergeron recording only 21 points in 45 games and Toews with 22 points in 38 contests. Bergeron has been heating up as of late, though, scoring three goals and six assists in his last eight games. Bergeron also leads the league in possession numbers, with the Bruins controlling 61.9 percent of the even-strength shot attempts when he's on the ice.

5. Brad Marchand.

In September, Marchand inked an eight-year, $49 million deal and it's already paying dividends for the Bruins. He has 14 points (seven goals, seven assists) in his last eight games, and 45 points total, which is by far the most on his team and tied for sixth in the NHL. He's 16 points away from tying his career high of 61 set last season, with a little less than half the year to go. He's also had great success against the Blackhawks. In his last six games against Chicago, dating back to the 2013-14 campaign, he has registered at least a point in all of them, scoring four goals and adding five assists. To make life more difficult, he's a player that enjoys getting under people's skin, so expect him to be a big factor tonight.

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