Kelly, Notre Dame get ready for another QB battle

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Kelly, Notre Dame get ready for another QB battle

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Brian Kelly isn't shutting any more doors with regard to his starting quarterback against Navy Sept. 1. He's already closed one, suspending Tommy Rees -- Notre Dame's most experienced quarterback -- for the game. But beyond that, Kelly is open to anything.
Even playing multiple quarterbacks.
"I think everything's on the table," Kelly said. "I don't know that we've taken anything off the table relative to the quarterback position. Ideally I'd like to have one quarterback and have him be the guy. But we won't know until we get out there, put the pads on, get live action and see how these guys react to those scenarios and situations."
Interceptions plagued Notre Dame's quarterbacks last season, as Rees, Dayne Crist and Andrew Hendrix combined to throw 17. Plenty of those were costly, and may have been the difference between nine or 10 wins instead of the eight Notre Dame registered for the second consecutive season.
With Rees out, the Irish starting quarterback battle for the season opener will be between Andrew Hendrix, Everett Golson and Gunner Kiel. Hendrix and Golson are likely the favorites heading into pre-season camp, which starts Saturday, over the true freshman, but there's no reason why that couldn't change over the next few weeks.
"Early on, we've gotta be able to see three quarterbacks, and as we move closer to finding if there's a separation, then we'll start to separate the reps," Kelly explained. "But we don't go into practice one saying he's getting 80 percent, he's getting 20 percent or he's getting 7030. We're not at that point."
Last year, Kelly named Crist as the team's starting quarterback on Aug. 23. He and his coaching staff don't know when they'll decide on a starter yet, but as Kelly put it, "we'll know it when we see it."
Golson wowed fans with a solid performance in Notre Dame's spring game April 21 and didn't turn the ball over in that contest. But Kelly said after that game that Golson had to imrpove calling plays in game situations, something Irish coaches appear to be trying to correct this summer.
"We'll be doing a lot more 11-on-11," Kelly said. "We've gotta put our players, in particular the quarterback, in as many situations that put 11 players out on the field at one time. Half-line, 7-on-7, inside drill -- all great drills. Don't get the quarterback to the level we need to. A lot more 11-on-11 for this football team to help us answer this question."
For Hendrix, Kelly feels the sophomore needs to get more reps to improve. But he went through some growing pains in 2011, just as one may expect Golson and Kiel to go through in their first years of non-redshirt or collegiate action.
Kelly, however, won't tolerate the mistakes, no matter if they're due to inexperience.
"I don't have any patience for that," Kelly said. "You know me, I want it done the right way. But we have to have a quarterback we can trust, that's going to take great care of the football, that's going to get us in the right plays. As we move forward here, it's developing that trust with our quarterbacks, and not accepting anything less than that level of trust in taking care of the football. That was the emphasis this spring, and that will continue to be the emphasis.
"The starting quarterback against Navy is the guy we believe carries those traits with him, and we can trust that he makes good decisions."
In that quote, Kelly alluded to Hendrix (taking care of the football) and Golson (getting in the right plays). Rees certainly falls into the former category, and while he won't start the first game, he will get a portion of the reps in practice before his teammates depart for Ireland in late August.
"Certainly not every rep that you take is a rep toward Navy," Kelly said. "They'll be opportunities for Tommy to stay sharp."
Kelly said in a statement released after Rees' suspension was announced that the junior could "attempt to climb the depth chart" after he's reinstated. If Hendrix, Golson andor Kiel struggle Sept. 1, there certainly exists the chance that Rees returns to his starting role when Notre Dame returns to South Bend to face Purdue the next week.
"Honestly, if we get the guy and he starts against Navy and he doesn't play very well, I don't want him to start next week," Kelly said. "But I would like, like everybody else, to prepare somebody and have a great game against Navy and then make it a difficult decision what you do in Week 2."
Attention to detail has been Kelly's mantra since last season's turnover-laced opener against USF. But as he kept preaching it to his team and to the media, Notre Dame continued to turn the ball over.
2012 is a new year for Notre Dame, and Kelly would rather stop having to verbalize that point.
"It's probably better that we save that talk for action," Kelly said. "That's what this year's about. It's doing it, not talking about it. That will probably be the theme as we move forward this year."

After kneeling during anthem, Huskers' Michael Rose-Ivey explains protest in speech

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After kneeling during anthem, Huskers' Michael Rose-Ivey explains protest in speech

Sparked by the actions of San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick during the NFL's preseason, protests by athletes during the national anthem have grown more and more common in recent weeks, athletes kneeling or raising fists in protest of killings of African-American men by police across the country.

Add some Big Ten football players to that list, with athletes from Michigan, Michigan State and Nebraska notably taking part in anthem protests this past weekend.

Three Nebraska players — linebacker Michael Rose-Ivey, linebacker Mohamed Barry and defensive end DaiShon Neal — kneeled during the national anthem before the Huskers' game against Northwestern in Evanston.

Monday, Rose-Ivey took to the podium during Nebraska's weekly press conference and delivered a lengthy prepared speech to members of the media, discussing his reasoning for engaging in the protest and his beliefs on some of the biggest issues facing the country as well as sharing instances of racism he's experienced as a football player at Nebraska.

The Omaha World Herald posted a video of Rose-Ivey's entire speech. It is a thoughtful, passionate and eloquent speech and should most definitely be watched. Here it is:

Certainly the issue is a divisive one, that fact made no clearer than by Rose-Ivey's examples of backlash he and his teammates received following their protest.

But regardless of your opinion on the matter, Rose-Ivey deserves praise for the manner in which he made his statements Monday.

Blackhawks: Keith unlikely to play first four preseason games

Blackhawks: Keith unlikely to play first four preseason games

Duncan Keith was already deemed unlikely to play in many, if any, Blackhawks preseason games, when training camp opened. As of now, it doesn’t look like he’ll be in the first few.

Keith will probably not play in the Blackhawks’ first four preseason games, assistant coach Kevin Dineen said following Monday’s training camp sessions. As for whether or not Keith will play in any, that’s still up in the air.

“That’s a question that Dunc and the medical staff, Stan [Bowman], Joel [Quenneville], we’ll all get to that. I wouldn’t foresee him certainly in these first four games. I would say that’s not going to happen,” Dineen said. “We’ll let him keep progressing on his timetable that he’s on now.”

Keith has been participating in one practice each day but has not been in any of the scrimmages. Assistant coach Mike Kitchen said Keith has asked to skate in the team’s second practice each day – each session is about 20-25 minutes – but the Blackhawks have told him no. As of now, both Dineen and Kitchen figure Keith will be ready for the regular-season opener but the Blackhawks will continue to be prudent with him.

“He’s out there wheeling around, doing well,” Dineen said. “We had a good chat with him today. He feels like he has a lot of jump but not a lot of stamina right now. We’ll continue the way we’ve handled it so far. We’ll keep moving forward that way.”

Players returning soon

Patrick Kane, who was at the United Center on Monday afternoon, will skate with the Blackhawks on Tuesday. Defenseman Michal Kempny will also join Tuesday’s sessions. Dineen said Niklas Hjalmarsson, Marcus Kruger, Artem Anisimov and Artemi Panarin are expected to join the Blackhawks on Friday.

Neither Kane nor Kempny are expected to play Wednesday vs. the Pittsburgh Penguins.

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]​

Pokka is back

Defenseman Ville Pokka, who played for Team Finland in the World Cup of Hockey, skated with the Blackhawks on Monday.

“Anybody coming back from Toronto over the last two weeks is going to have a heck of a lot of confidence,” Dineen said. “A young kid like that getting the chance to represent his country on the international stage is a great honor and a pick-me-up heading into training camp and the season.”

First cuts made

The Blackhawks made their first round of cuts on Monday, sending Radovan Bondra, John Dahlstrom, Nathan Noel and Roy Radke to their respective junior teams. The active roster is now at 57 players.