Notre Dame notes: Kelly explains Wood suspension

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Notre Dame notes: Kelly explains Wood suspension

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Notre Dame will be without its leading returning rusher when the team opens its season Saturday in Dublin, Ireland. And the decision to suspend senior back Cierre Wood was entirely coach Brian Kelly's call.

"This is strictly an independent decision that I made relative to the decisions that those young men made," Kelly said Tuesday. "And they violated the rules that our players know, and the rules that they know every single day about being in this program."

Wood and defensive lineman Justin Utupo are suspended for the Navy and Purdue games, while quarterback Tommy Rees and linebacker Carlo Calabrese are suspended for just the Navy game. Last year, Kelly didn't suspend star wideout Michael Floyd for any regular-season games following an arrest for DUI, but he was suspended for most of spring practice. Floyd was reinstated to the team for fall camp Aug. 3, and went on to become a gameday captain by the end of the season.

Kelly lauded Floyd's transformation off the field last season, and hopes the same scenario plays out with his four suspended players for Week 1.

"The ultimate goal is we want them all to turn out like Michael Floyd's situation, where they make life decisions to change the way they are," Kelly said. "And so the ultimate goal is to get -- with any kind of sanctions or any kind of suspensions, we want better citizens. We want more accountable citizens. We want people representing our program in the right way."

With Wood out, Theo Riddick and George Atkinson III will take on increased roles in the Notre Dame offense, while running back-turned-cornerback Cam McDaniel has returned to the backfield. However, USC transfer Amir Carlisle will not be available Sept. 1, Kelly said.

Still, the Irish have enough running back depth to shoulder the loss of Wood, especially against a pair of teams that ranked in the bottom third among rushing defenses in 2011.

"You understand that as a head coach with 18 to 22 year olds, that you hope that everybody makes good decisions all the time. I hope my son makes good decisions and my daughter," Kelly said. "I think we all get disappointed, but we also know that they are young and we want them to learn from the mistakes that they made. And in this instance, we are hoping that's the case for Cierre and Justin, I'm very confident that they will learn from their mistakes."

Now lining up at wideouteveryone?

Notre Dame's two-deep depth chart was released this week, and none of the team's talented young pass-catchers were listed as starters. But that hardly means they're pigeon-holed into a No. 2 or No. 3 slot in the X, Y or Z positions.

"You're going to need your media guide as it relates to the wide receiver position, because they are all playing," Kelly said. "Each one of them right now has a different skill set. Nobody is polished to the level where they are a stand alone player at the receiving core other than Tyler Eifert. He's a stand alone player."

There's no single receiver likely to replace Michael Floyd's 2011 numbers -- 100 catches, 1,147 yards, 9 touchdowns. But Kelly is hoping Notre Dame's fairly deep crop of wide receivers -- and a hybrid back in Theo Riddick -- can do the job just as well as one player did in 2011.

"You also have veterans that are going to get an opportunity: John Goodman, we know about Robby Toma; Danny Smith who has been with our program, he's going to get an opportunity to play -- DaVaris Daniels, Chris Brown, Justin Ferguson, Davonte Neal, and I've probably left out a couple others," Kelly said. "They are all going to have to play collective roles in our offense."

Te'o, Eifert headline Irish captains

Last year, safety Harrison Smith was Notre Dame's only permanent captain, with other players cycling in as gameday captains during the season. In 2012, the Irish will have four captains, all seniors: Manti Te'o, Kapron Lewis-Moore, Tyler Eifert and Zack Martin.

"What struck me more than anything else was when they got up before their teammates, the things that they said about being a captain at Notre Dame, and in one particular instance, Kapron Lewis-Moore was brought to tears," Kelly said "You love the see the passion and love for Notre Dame, their teammates, and they are great representatives.

"I think that's what I'm most excited about is we have got great leadership, not only amongst our seniors, but our veteran football players, and it's set a great model for our younger players to follow."

White Sox blast seven homers but lose to Blue Jays

White Sox blast seven homers but lose to Blue Jays

The White Sox tied a team-record seven home runs on Saturday afternoon and it wasn’t enough.

Brett Lawrie had two homers and three RBIs, but the White Sox couldn’t overcome a poor start by Miguel Gonzalez and lost 10-8 to the Toronto Blue Jays at U.S. Cellular Field. The seven homers, all of which were solo shots, matched an April 23, 1955 effort at Kansas City.

Gonzalez allowed eight runs in 5 1/3 innings for the White Sox, who fell back below .500 with the loss. Dioner Navarro, J.B. Shuck, Tim Anderson, Alex Avila and Adam Eaton all hit home runs for the White Sox in the losing effort.

Down by five in the second inning, the White Sox started to rally against R.A. Dickey on Lawrie’s inside-the-park-home run with two outs. It was the first inside-the-park-homer by a White Sox player at U.S. Cellular Field since Chris Singleton on Sept. 29, 2000. Navarro then lined one out to right to make it 5-2 and Shuck followed with his first homer since April 19, 2014 -- a span of 318 plate appearances.

Even though Gonzalez allowed three runs in the fourth to make it an 8-3 game, the White Sox didn’t stop. Lawrie’s solo homer off Dickey made it a four-run game and he became the first White Sox player since Ron Santo on June 9, 1974 to have both a traditional homer and an inside-the-park-homer in the same game.

The White Sox added a run in the sixth on an RBI single by Lawrie to make it 8-5 but reliever Jesse Chavez stranded a pair of runners.

Anderson’s homer off Drew Storen in the seventh made it a two-run game and Avila’s oppo-shot off Jason Grilli in the eighth got the White Sox within a run.

Eaton homered in the ninth, too, but it wasn’t enough.

Gonzalez’s day started with a rough patch and rarely got any easier.

He allowed five straight hits in the first inning, including three straight doubles as Toronto grabbed an early 3-0 lead. The advantage would have been greater had it not been for a spectacular relay throw from Shuck to Lawrie to Avila to throw out Josh Donaldson at home.

The Blue Jays continued to add on in the second inning when Devon Travis blasted a two-run homer off Gonzalez to put his team ahead five.

Starved for length from the starting pitcher, the White Sox stuck with Gonzalez, who retired the side in order in the third. But the Blue Jays continued to add on against Gonzalez, pushing across three more runs in the fourth inning. Donaldson drew a bases-loaded walk with two outs to make it a 6-3 game and Edwin Encarnacion’s two-run single again pushed the deficit to five.

Encarnacion later doubled in an insurance run and Troy Tulowitzki singled in another in the ninth off Michael Ynoa to give Toronto a 10-7 lead.

62 Days to Kickoff: Antioch

62 Days to Kickoff: Antioch

CSNChicago.com preps reporter "Edgy" Tim O’Halloran spotlights 100 high school football teams in 100 days. The first 75 team profiles will focus on teams making strides across Chicagoland and elsewhere in the state. Starting Aug. 1, we’ll unveil the @CSNPreps Top 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 26.

School: Antioch Sequoits

Head coach: Brian Glashagel

Assistant Coaches: Del Pechauer, Jordan Eder, Neil Farlow, Ryan Shifley, Mike Karner, Pat Swanson, Mike Gordy, Vinny Juiditta, Rico Ellis

How they fared in 2015: 5-4 (3-3) North Suburban Prairie Conference. Antioch failed to qualify for the IHSA playoff field.

Biggest storyline in 2016: Can the Sequoits avoid just missing out on the playoffs like last fall?

Names to watch this season: ATH Brandon Lind, K/P Ben Gutke

Biggest holes to fill: The Sequoits will need to replace a ton of rushing yards from graduated running back Griffin Hill and fullback Nick Dorosan.

EDGY's early take: Always look towards teams that just miss out on the IHSA playoffs the previous year to have a bit more motivation. Antioch has a good core back on both sides of the football, and will compete for a conference title in the newly formed Northern Lake County Conference.

White Sox first-rounder Zack Collins to start pro career next week

White Sox first-rounder Zack Collins to start pro career next week

ESPN suggested Zack Collins could be the first hitter from this month’s amateur baseball draft to reach the big leagues.

But the first-round pick has been given a few days to decompress before he begins his professional career with the White Sox. Collins spent Saturday morning in the clubhouse, took batting practice with some of his future teammates and threw out the first pitch less than a day after he officially signed with the White Sox. The university of Miami catcher — who received a $3,380,600 signing bonus — will first report to the team’s Glendale, Ariz. facility on July 2 and eventually will start at Single-A Winston-Salem.

“We’re probably going to give him a week or two to catch his breath a little bit,” amateur scouting director Nick Hostetler said. “It’s been a long season for him. We’re probably going to send him to Arizona for a little bit and get his feet under him and then to Winston.”

Collins’ college career ended earlier this week when the Hurricanes were eliminated from the College World Series. He appeared in 62 games and hit .363/.544/.668 with 16 home runs and 59 RBIs. Collins finished the season with 78 walks and 53 strikeouts.

The catcher brought his family with him to Chicago for the weekend and this week he’ll head to Wichita, KS, where he’s one of three finalists for the Johnny Bench Award, which is awarded annually to the nation’s top collegiate catcher.  

“After that I’ll have a couple of days off and head out,” Collins said. “It’s definitely nice (to get a few days off). I pretty much caught every game this year for Miami so it’s nice to get my legs a little rest and get fresh and head out.”

Collins wants to stick at catcher and he thinks he can. But his approach, which ESPN said is the best of the draft, and bat could have Collins to the majors quickly. Of Collins, ESPN’s Keith Law said “he can really hit.”

Collins finished his collegiate career with 177 walks versus 164 strikeouts.

“Patience is key when you’re hitting, Collins said. “Swinging at the right pitches and put the barrel on it and the ball will fly, especially with these big-league balls. Take your walks and get on base and score runs to help the team.”

Zack Burdi, the team’s supplemental first-rounder, also is said to be a fast-mover and potentially could be the first pitcher drafted to reach the majors. Hostetler said the reason Collins and Burdi are ahead of others has as much to do with their mental approach as their skillset.

“They’re advanced from the standpoint not only physically, but mentally,” Hostetler said. “That’s probably the big thing if they can play here. These guys that play here on a nightly basis, they’re wired different between the ears. They have a different mentality about them and both of those kids as well as a couple of the other ones we drafted have that presently and don’t have to develop that. To think you can put it on a 21-year-old kid to pitch here in front of 40,000 a night, it’s a little tough to think about. But I do think they’d be capable of something like that.”