Purdue presents a return to normalcy for Notre Dame

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Purdue presents a return to normalcy for Notre Dame

A week ago, Notre Dame was in Dublin, Ireland, preparing for their quarterback's NCAA debut against a team that runs an unorthodox offense. This Saturday, things return to normal for the Irish as they welcome Purdue to Notre Dame Stadium (2:30 p.m., NBC) for their home opener.

"It's going to be tremendous, man. It's going to be real crazy," quarterback Everett Golson said of Saturday's game. "Playing in Dublin, I guess my nerves were a little bit low because you didn't really know anybody in Dublin, or at least I didn't. Playing in front of 81,000 fans that you actually know, the nerves are still going to be there but I'm just going to stay calm and stay the course."

Golson got his first-game jitters out last week, and perhaps won't be under as large of a magnifying glass going forward. But the spotlight may continue to shine on Notre Dame's secondary, which struggled at times as Navy was forced to pass more than expected last weekend.

While Purdue won't start pocket-passing QB Robert Marve, Caleb TerBush -- who was suspended for Week 1 -- will still present a challenge through the air, at least compared to what Notre Dame prepared for against Navy.

"Defensively, we are now going to enter into a different plan," coach Brian Kelly said. "Now you go into your entire defensive mode and fronts and different coverages, nickel, dime, all that has to be worked through this week.

"I don't know if there's an alarm that I'm trying to set off relative to, hey, keep an eye on it, we're in big trouble here -- I don't believe in that. There were a lot of things we were not able to do defensively that were part of our plan that we need to get to work on."

The Irish are likely to see TerBush, Marve and Rob Henry under center, although linebacker and captain Manti Te'o doesn't see that rotation as being a potential headache.

"It doesn't make it difficult at all. Purdue does as Purdue does," Te'o said. "They'll line up and run Purdue plays. You look at the quarterback and their tendencies, you find out what's the best way to attack them."

Notre Dame's 50-10 win over Navy was one of the more impressive victories from around college football's opening weekend, but Kelly and his coaching staff will know a lot more about where the Irish stand after Week 2.

This isn't the same Purdue team Notre Dame pasted last year in West Lafayette -- they've improved, and they represent the next hurdle for the Irish to clear as they head into a few potentially season-defining contests against Michigan State and Michigan.

Marcus Kruger 'pretty close' to returning for Blackhawks

Marcus Kruger 'pretty close' to returning for Blackhawks

Marcus Kruger has been sidelined a little longer than the originally expected three weeks with his right hand injury. Not that any missed time is enjoyable.

"I wanted to get back there probably a few weeks ago but unfortunately I couldn't," said Kruger, who suffered his injury on Dec. 30 against the Carolina Hurricanes. "I tried to listen to the doctors and do everything I can instead to be ready when I get cleared. That's my mindset."

Kruger is close, but not quite there, as the Blackhawks prepared for Sunday night's game against the Vancouver Canucks. Kruger skated with his teammates for the first time since being injured but wasn't among the line rushes. The center took faceoffs on his own at the end of practice. Kruger pronounced himself, "pretty close," to returning. Coach Joel Quenneville said the Blackhawks will see how Kruger is over the next few days. The Blackhawks play again Tuesday and Thursday before heading into the All-Star break this weekend.

The Blackhawks have missed Kruger's versatility and especially his play on the penalty kill. The Blackhawks' kill has been fine through Kruger's absence but he nevertheless is a big part of it when he's healthy.

"We have a lot of options and when he's out everyone gets a more important role, whether starting or faceoffs. And we have a rotation of five guys who are in there most of the time. But he definitely absorbs the most responsibility when he's playing in that area," Quenneville said of Kruger. "So it's nice you get to try some other guys and you get deeper as you go along."

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

One of the players who's emerged in Kruger's absence is Tanner Kero, who filled his third-line center void. Kero and linemates Vinnie Hinostroza and Marian Hossa clicked on the dads trip, coming up with big plays and points in the Blackhawks' victories over Colorado and Boston. As of now, Kero appears to have the hold on third-line center.

"I don't see too many things that would change his positioning because he really helped himself," Quenneville said.

Kruger said he's fine if that means returning to fourth-line center duties. Regardless, he'll help bolster the Blackhawks' forward lines. The last step is likely contact, which Kruger got a little of – outside of faceoffs – in Sunday's skate. Kruger's had to wait a little longer than expected on his injury but he's getting there.

"I wanted to get back there probably a few weeks ago but unfortunately I couldn't. Tried to listen to the doctors and do everything I can instead to be ready when I get cleared," Kruger said. "That's my mindset."

Cubs, White Sox react to tragic deaths of Yordano Ventura and Andy Marte

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AP

Cubs, White Sox react to tragic deaths of Yordano Ventura and Andy Marte

The sports world woke up to some tragic news on Sunday morning.

Former major leaguer Andy Marte and Kansas City Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura were both killed in separate car accidents in the Dominican Republic within an hour of each other, according to multiple reports. A Royals representative confirmed the death of 25-year-old Ventura.

The Cubs and White Sox took to Twitter to give their condolences:

Ventura was a member of the Royals from 2013-16 and won a World Series title in 2015 with Ben Zobrist and Wade Davis, who the Cubs acquired this offseason for Jorge Soler. Ventura also played with White Sox pitcher James Shields in 2013-14.

Marte, 33, played a majority of his seven-year career with the Cleveland Indians. He was teammates with Todd Hollandsworth (Atlanta 2005), Kerry Wood (Cleveland 2009-10), and Miguel Montero (Arizona 2014).