Versatile Goodman ready for increased role as career winds down

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Versatile Goodman ready for increased role as career winds down

SOUTH BEND, Ind. During his football career at Notre Dame, John Goodman has played various roles. Hes returned punts, caught passes and even thrown a touchdown pass as a quarterback.

With receiver DaVaris Daniels out with a broken clavicle, Goodman is stepping into a larger role for the third-ranked Irish. He could see more playing time in Notre Dames final two regular-season games, including Saturdays home finale against Wake Forest.

After battling his own injuries, including a sore groin hurt in camp and a stress fracture in his back that flared up six weeks ago, Goodman said hes feeling healthy. The timing is ideal for the fifth-year senior from Fort Wayne, Ind.

A guy got hurt, so I just look at it as stepping in, Goodman said. Its senior night and I expected to come in and play a few minutes on senior night, but regardless of the opportunities I get, Im going to take advantage of them. Thats been my mindset since Ive been here.

Goodman has had limited playing time in his career. He caught six passes in 2009, 15 in 2010 and seven last season, when he was also a punt returner. In 2010, he threw a 32-yard touchdown pass on a trinket play. As a fifth-year senior, he has caught four passes for 77 yards and scored a career-best two touchdowns one last week against Boston College and a one-handed grab against Michigan State.  

Injuries have limited Goodmans opportunities. His sore back flared up in the game against Miami.

My body hasnt held up too well, he said. Thats unfortunate, but its not the end of the world. I like to be able to back my guys up and not complain about it. If Im injured, Im injured, but whatever I can do to help the team.

Though Goodmans career lacks gaudy statistics, he has been involved in big plays, provided intangibles and been a good teammate, coach Brian Kelly said.

(The) guy is great in the locker room, an upbeat, positive guy, Kelly said. I know that sometimes people are measured, and I know Im measured by wins and losses, but the relationships that he has on this team strengthens that group. I think hell look back and say, Yeah, I would like to have caught more and made more touchdowns and done all those things, but hes going to look back on the relationships and the strength that hes provided as a senior in this football program.

Like any player, Goodman said he had high expectations during his college career. While his playing time could have been greater and his numbers bigger, he has enjoyed being a generous teammate.

When things dont work out you cant get down on yourself, he said. I didnt really get down on myself, just stuck with it, led the younger guys and helped out the team as much as I could. Thats what I care about, the team. When there are guys coming in who have great potential and can make our team better, to make them better and be able to say I played a role in helping them out, thats just as rewarding.

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After getting another signature win at Maryland, does any Big Ten team have two better conference wins than Minnesota?

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After getting another signature win at Maryland, does any Big Ten team have two better conference wins than Minnesota?

Does any Big Ten team have two better conference wins than Minnesota?

The Golden Gophers went on the road and defeated a ranked group of Maryland Terrapins on Wednesday night, and they did so in impressive fashion, scoring an 89-75 victory in College Park.

Team this win with the win at Purdue back on New Year's Day, and there's no better pair of league victories to be found.

More importantly though, the Gophers, at 9-6, are now the No. 4 team in the Big Ten standings.

It's all a part of a quality NCAA tournament resume for the Gophers, who are closer to lock status after Wednesday's win than they are to being on any sort of bubble. With mediocrity running rampant through the Big Ten this season, Richard Pitino's 21-win squad should be well on its way to an appearance in next month's Madness, which would be the program's first since he took over as head coach.

The resume looks pretty strong at this point, especially after Wednesday. Minnesota can now claim wins over Purdue, Maryland and Northwestern — all three of those conference victories coming on the road. In the non-conference portion of the schedule, the Gophers beat Arkansas, the Razorbacks seemingly heading to the tournament themselves. The only loss from the non-conference portion came on the road at Florida State, one of the highest-ranked teams in the country.

So it's safe to say Minnesota will go dancing.

Wednesday's 14-point beatdown of the Terps saw the Gophers shoot 50 percent from the field on the night and 54.5 percent from the field in the second half. Five players scored in double figures: Dupree McBrayer with 18, Nate Mason with 17, Akeem Springs with 16, Jordan Murphy with 15 and Amir Coffey with 13. Minnesota didn't win the rebounding battle but scored 15 points off 10 Maryland turnovers and marched to the free-throw line, going 17-for-20 from the charity stripe while Maryland was just 8-for-13 there.

The second half was a rout, the Gophers outscoring the Terps 55-40 over the final 20 minutes and rattling off two separate 9-0 runs to burst away from the No. 24 team in the country.

The overtime win at Purdue on the first day of 2017 might go down as a bigger win considering the Boilermakers are closing in on the No. 1 seed in the Big Ten Tournament. That win, too, came by an impressive-enough margin, 91-82. But Minnesota dominated Maryland over the final nine minutes or so and turned in a double-digit victory on the road against a team that lost to that same Purdue team on that same court by just a point two and a half weeks ago.

The Gophers are now on a six-game winning streak and are piling up wins in a fashion that's making them look like one of the Big Ten's finest. A 3-1 start to conference play that extended its overall record to 15-2 was dampened by Minnesota's five-game losing streak that featured losses to higher-echelon teams like Michigan State, Wisconsin and Maryland, plus road losses at Penn State and Ohio State. But since have come six straight wins. While the caliber of opponent hadn't been terribly impressive until Wednesday, the Gophers can now boast nine conference wins. Only three teams have more.

It's now worth watching how high Minnesota can climb in the Big Ten standings before the conference tournament just two weeks from now. If the season ended today, the Gophers would already be in possession of one of those highly coveted two-day byes. But Minnesota is just a game back of Maryland and just two games back of Wisconsin, who the Gophers play in the regular-season finale.

Like Pitino told his team after Wednesday's win: "No more talk about (just making) the NCAA tournament. We're talking about seeds in the NCAA tournament."