Notre Dame's two-quarterback dynamic here to stay


Notre Dame's two-quarterback dynamic here to stay

Tommy Rees has been deployed twice as Everett Golson's safety net twice this year, and both times, he's guided Notre Dame to a victory. But make no mistake: Rees isn't taking the No. 1 job from Golson any time soon.

Golson, however, has a short leash.

"We're 40, so I'd say that having Tommy in there the two times that he did play, if you measure it from that standpoint, it's worked out okay," coach Brian Kelly said Sunday. "You know, I've made this pretty clear every time that this has been brought up: You want to go with one quarterback, but we have a freshman quarterback who's experiencing being a young quarterback. (If) I can prop him up with a veteran to win a football game because we're in this to win it, then we'll do that.

"Characterize it any way you want, that it's two quarterbacks. I look at it as supporting Everett with Tommy, and if we need to do that, we'll continue to go that way because it's been pretty successful."

There are plenty of two-quarterback systems scattering the college football landscape, but few -- if any -- have the dynamic seen at Notre Dame. It's clear Kelly and his coaching staff are not only looking to win in 2012, but they're looking to develop a guy who can lead them to wins in 2013 and beyond.

But as Notre Dame's success continues to grow -- the Irish are ranked No. 10 in the AP top 25 poll heading into its bye week -- can Kelly keep the same strategy and continue to win?

Right now, the answer is yes. But Notre Dame was able to overcome two bad decisions made by Golson during Saturday's 13-6 win over Michigan. A lot of that fell on the shoulders of the defense, which backed Michigan up after the first pick and forced a missed field goal.

The second interception was far more egregious, though, as came in Notre Dame's end zone.

"It was a careless mistake, one that was uncharacteristic of how he had practiced and how he performed," Kelly said. "I felt like I needed to make a decision for the best interest of our team in winning that game, and it was at that fifth series."

But what if Golson makes a careless or jittery mistake in a situation that proves to be more costly? What if the defense or Rees can't bail the team out after a mistake made by a freshman quarterback?

That's a risk, sure. But it's a risk every team takes. Denard Robinson threw four interceptions yesterday, and Michigan never recovered. And in the world of future Notre Dame opponents, a Landry Jones interception halted Oklahoma's momentum in a 24-19 loss to Kansas State in Norman on Saturday.

Both those guys are seasoned quarterbacks with a ton of snaps under their belt. And it's worth noting Golson only turned the ball over twice in three games heading into the Michigan game.

Kelly won't use Rees if Golson is making right decisions and confident throws. Rees is a luxury plenty of teams don't have -- an experienced backup who can enter whenever an inexperienced starter looks overwhelmed.

So far, that mix has worked. Notre Dame is 4-0, and as long as they avoid a major upset, a 1-2 record against the trio of Stanford, Oklahoma and USC could lead the team to a BCS bid.

All indications are that Golson will be the starter if Notre Dame can make that run. But Kelly has made it just as clear that Rees will be a big part of whatever the Irish end up doing in 2012 as well.

Cubs fan trolls Indians Game 2 starter Trevor Bauer with hilarious 'gift'

Cubs fan trolls Indians Game 2 starter Trevor Bauer with hilarious 'gift'

CLEVELAND - One Cubs fan refuses to sit idly by on the sideline. He wants to do all he can to help the team win.

Jason Mollett sent Indians Game 2 starter Trevor Bauer a special "gift" Wednesday afternoon in Cleveland:

As most know, Bauer tore up the pinky finger on his pitching hand in a drone accident earlier this month.

[SHOP: Buy a "Try Not to Suck" shirt with proceeds benefiting Joe Maddon's Respect 90 Foundation & other Cubs Charities]  

He fought back to attempt to pitch in the American League Championship Series, but his stitches burst open and blood was dripping from his hand so furiously, he couldn't even finish the first inning.

Bauer and the Indians have had a good sense of humor since the drone incident, with Cleveland manager Terry Francona firing off several jokes throughout his press conferences.

But Cubs fans may not want Bauer out of the game, given the way he ended the regular season.

Blackhawks still trying to solve penalty kill issues

Blackhawks still trying to solve penalty kill issues

When considering the Blackhawks’ penalty kill, you can look at their 3-3-1 record in two ways: their record is mediocre because of it, or they’re still getting points despite it.

No matter how you look at it, however, the penalty kill’s malaise has to stop.

In seven games this season, the Blackhawks’ penalty kill has allowed 14 goals on 26 opportunities. Through their first seven games last season the Blackhawks were shorthanded 18 times, allowing three goals.

Looking at seasons overall, the Blackhawks allowed 46 power-play goals over 82 games last season. The kill allowed a scant 35 goals during the 2014-15 season and 46 goals in 2013-14.

Yes, the Blackhawks know it’s a big problem and they’ve talked about it and worked on it. So far, they just haven’t seen the results on it. Some have come off faceoffs. Some have come from long distance. Some have come off rebounds. It doesn’t seem to matter what they do: goals get scored. The Blackhawks will keep going back to the drawing board until they restore that penalty kill to its normal success rate.

“We talk a lot about the way we’re forcing it up ice, how we’re forcing it in the neutral zone, forcing entries, how we’re moving together as units, the personnel changes,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “We’ve tried a number of different looks on the back end, as pairs up front. We’re trying to find something that clicks. we haven’t gotten that confidence yet where we’re comfortable with just about any pairs right now. hopefully we can get that stabilized.

[SHOP BLACKHAWKS: Get your Blackhawks gear right here]

“We know the importance of that influencing the outcome of games and sometimes it can win a game for us. But it’s been a real negative so far,” Quenneville added. “We got through three in a row there. hopefully that’s the start of something positive.”

The Blackhawks killed off the final three penalties they took against the Calgary Flames on Monday night. It was a shot of confidence for a group that needed it, and now they have to repeat that more often.

“We just kept our feet moving. We were working. Our shifts were 20 to 30 seconds tops,” Jonathan Toews said. “When you go that short you have the energy to outwork the power play and make up for being down one man. Yeah, I mean, I think that’s the key right there, and I think our systems fall into place when we’re all moving and we’re all skating the right way.”

Artem Anisimov said those three successful kills were “intense.”

“We were skating. We didn’t give so much time to set up in our zone,” Ansimov said. “It was like, always clear. We cleared the puck 200 feet and it was successful.”

The Blackhawks have been talking “baby steps” regarding their penalty kill the past few games. Killing three in a row off on Monday night could be one, but it means nothing if they allow another one in their next game. The penalty kill is broken. The Blackhawks will keep trying to fix it.