I probably should have added the subtitle of “And other Notre Dame news” as there are plenty of things to talk about in the world of Fighting Irish sports.
There were some big time wins this past weekend and I’ll get to them later, but this site is predominantly football and you are all likely football fans first, so let’s get this oblong ball rolling, yes?
RETURN. It’s the word of the day. The Irish returned to the football field yesterday to kick off spring practice, and several key players returned to the team after various absences. The top of that list? Quarterback Everett Golson.
After missing 2013 due to an “academic mishap”, Golson is back. And he looks big. Word out of the Loftus is that his arm is stronger, feet faster and mind (self-admittedly) more mature. After working with George Whitfield Jr. last fall, Golson has improved as an athlete, and even head coach Brian Kelly noticed. Kelly claimed in the press conference that Golson’s tempo was high and that the only thing missing was the chemistry with receivers.
Golson will be the big story all spring. And summer. And probably the fall as well. With all due respect to Tommy Rees last year, his play on the field left Irish fans wanting more and Golson brings that. His abilities to make big plays and improvise (just ask Pittsburgh circa 2012) separates himself, and likewise his team, from the competition. The lack of that separation cost Notre Dame at least two wins last year. Wins that would likely have come our way had Golson been at the helm.
Naturally, Golson is the presumed starter, even with redshirt freshman Malik Zaire expected to push strongly. But that can’t keep us from talking about who will be around him. As projected by most of us, Torean Folston looks to be the new number one running back. Greg Bryant and Cam McDaniel split the back-up reps and forgive me, all of you, but this is a good thing.
I’ve heard people talk of the benefits of a three-headed monster backfield, but I’m not one of those that buy into it. I like having two guys who can spell the feature back, but every team needs a starter. Folston is that guy.
Returning to the offensive line is Christian Lombard after his season-ending back injury last year and his experience will be needed among a new, if not talented, crew. On the outside it’s about what I expected as well, with Chris Brown, Corey Robinson and CJ Prosise running first team. I imagine this will be a fluid group as we go through spring as Golson and the rest of the team figures out the best possible chemistry.
There will undoubtedly be more changes and updates as spring progresses, but first, the promised “other stuff”:
UNDEFEATED. The 2012 football team isn’t the only recent squad with an unblemished regular season. Sunday, the Notre Dame women’s basketball team finished up their regular season with a perfect 29-0 record. It was also their third straight regular season title crown (first two in the Big East, this one in the ACC). Despite going without a loss, the Irish are mired at a #2 ranking behind Connecticut.
In related news, I hate Geno Auriemma.
SEASON SAVED? The hockey team, riding a large post-season bubble, travelled all the way out to Massachusetts for a showdown with top-ranked Boston College in their own season finale. In overtime, the Irish were able to steal a victory, moving them up the KRACH ratings to number nine. Throw in a couple of good wins in the Hockey East tournament and this team just might turn into locks for the NCAA tournament.