Notre Dame: Golson still leads QB competition

Notre Dame: Golson still leads QB competition
August 9, 2014, 5:15 pm
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Notre Dame returned to campus with three weeks until kicking off the 2014 season. Some observations and notes from Saturday's practice:

— Everett Golson continued to take nearly all of Notre Dame's first-team reps at quarterback and out-classed sophomore Malik Zaire on Saturday. Kelly said he's not evaluating the two quarterbacks too much right now, though, given the offense is still being installed. While Kelly said he and his coaching staff will begin the process of deciding on a quarterback next week it'd be a stunner if Golson isn't the guy. 

— Zaire was picked off on consecutive passes during seven-on-seven drills. While both passes were tipped, neither throw was very good, though Kelly said part of the install phase involves making throws into coverage a quarterback wouldn't make in a more competitive scenario.

— Offensive coordinator Mike Denbrock was back at practice for a bit, though Kelly said it'll still be at least a week or two before Denbrock returns to the team full-time. For now, Kelly said Denbrock may be around for about an hour a day and gradually increase his time around the team. 

— With Matt Hegarty (concussion) sidelined, Conor Hanratty slid in at left guard on the first-team offensive line. That's telling on a few fronts: First, that Notre Dame wants to lock Steve Elmer in at right tackle instead of shifting him back to guard, where he played last year; second, that Hegarty likely will wind up starting. Coach Brian Kelly said Notre Dame likely will settle on a starting five on its offensive line next week.

[MORE: Hunter Jr. out 4-6 weeks]

— Josh Atkinson had an excellent practice, taking first-team reps with KeiVarae Russell and Devin Butler both sidelined for the second half of the morning. He looked comfortable in coverage and made a few nice plays, which represented a major step. Atkinson has been a non-factor for the Irish since coming to South Bend with his brother George in 2011. 

— Watching quarterbacks coach Matt LaFleur run some read option drills with Golson, Zaire and other Irish quarterbacks was neat to watch seeing as a year ago, he was running the same stuff with Robert Griffin III in Washington. 

— Kelly addressed Friday's ruling in the O'Bannon trial, which went against the NCAA and permitted [details]. He said he views the ruling from a glass-half-full perspective: "I think we can make the college experience for our student-athletes one that is not where they're getting paid, but one where they can get chances to go home and see their families on breaks and really take care of the incidentals that these kids don't get because they can't afford a job." 

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