Bulls

With debut out of the way, Golson not taking his foot off the gas

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With debut out of the way, Golson not taking his foot off the gas

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Brian Kelly said this week that he he intends to move ahead with Everett Golson as Notre Dame's starting quarterback, which should come as no surprise. Golson completed 12-of-18 passes for 144 yards with a touchdown and interception in Notre Dame's season-opening blowout win over Navy, doing nothing in the process to lose the job he earned in fall camp.

In the buildup to the season opener, Kelly and offensive coordinator Chuck Martin both hinted that a rough first game for whoever their starter was could result in a change for Week 2, when junior quarterback Tommy Rees would be reinstated to the team. Golson passed his first test, even if he's not looking at it that way.

"You still have the quarterback situation," Golson said. "I know if there was a game that -- my job is not certain right now, is what I'm saying. I still have my foot on the gas pedal. I'm just going to keep working and trying to be the best I can be."

Nobody knew how Golson would handle his role as he led Notre Dame's offense on to the field in Dublin. Not Kelly, not Martin, not even Golson. But as the game progressed, the sophomore didn't show anything resembling first-game jitters.

"Coming out, I didn't really know what to expect, being that it was my first game," Golson said. "I didn't know what to expect at all. After that first drive, I had a chance to kind of settle in a little bit, that's when I really felt calm."

His coach saw the same thing, and said it's the most encouraging sign that came out of Ireland.

"This is a process for Everett," Kelly said. There will be continual week to week of growing as a quarterback. I guess what I like the most in the big picture sense was his comfortable place out on the field. He did not seem overwhelmed at any time. He was extremely communicative when he got to the sideline. He could tell me what was going on. Those are all big picture, good things, after game one."

Notre Dame's playbook was fairly conservative against Navy, with the passing game sticking to short throws to help Golson ease into things. He was mainly a pocket passer, and was only credited for one rush (which resulted in a loss of eight yards).

And with an offensive line carving out holes for a pair of dynamic running backs, there was little need to be anything more than vanilla.

"It helped me out a lot, and the coaches felt that it was the best game for us," Golson said of the gameplan. "It's kind of one those things, if it's not broke, don't fix it. We're running the ball pretty good, we weren't showing any signs of slowing up, so why stop."

But Golson's teammates see a quarterback who has the ability to do more than sling a few short passes and hand the ball off to an explosive stable of running backs.

"He's got a gun, he can throw the ball," offensive lineman Chris Watt said. "I guess we'll see when he opens it up and starts running a little bit."

"Everett can run, and he can throw," linebacker Manti Te'o explained when asked if Golson reminded him of anyone. "He has a pretty good cannon. He's different. I don't think I've gone against anybody like Everett."

Golson still has a few things to work on before the Notre Dame offense will be ready to open up -- the quarterback noted his decisiveness and footwork were the two biggest areas in which he needs to improve. He may not reach that point this month, next month or this season.

Kelly will readily admit that there will be growing pains as Golson develops. There will be mistakes, as we saw with his interception against Navy (Golson said he missed DaVaris Daniels on the pass). But from the looks of it, Kelly may be willing to live with those issues -- so long as they don't become serious, of course -- as Golson grows into the offense.

While Golson's role appears fairly secure, though, that's not how he's viewing it, choosing to believe he's not guaranteed to start from one week to the next. Although now that he will start against Purdue, he can finally look forward to his home debut.

"It's going to be tremendous, man. It's going to be real crazy," Golson said of Saturday's game at Notre Dame Stadium. "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."

11 Bulls - including Cameron Payne - received a player vote to start in the All-Star Game

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USA TODAY

11 Bulls - including Cameron Payne - received a player vote to start in the All-Star Game

Maybe the rest of the NBA has really taken notice of the Bulls' recent play. After all, they're 13-8 since a putrid 3-20 start and are within shouting distance (if you yell really loudly) of the No. 8 spot in the East.

So maybe that's why 11 different Bulls - including the infamous Cameron Payne - received at least one vote to start in the NBA All-Star Game in February. That, or the players could not care less about the voting process and made a mockery of it for a second straight year.

This could become a get-off-my-lawn story, and we could go on for hours about why the NBA should really reconsider giving players 25 percent of the vote on starters. Then again, as a whole they seemed to get it right in the East, with Kyrie Irving and DeMar DeRozan in the backcourt, and LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Joel Embiid in the frontcourt. 

But instead of complaining, let's just get to the hilarious results and show you how the Bulls fared in both the player and fan voting (no Bulls received any media votes, because they shouldn't have).

Fun fact: The Bulls combined received 170,669 fan votes. That's about 5,000 less than Rockets center Clint Capela received. Their 31 combined player votes were two more than Carmelo Anthony received, so yeah.

High School Lites features several teams with long winning streaks

High School Lites features several teams with long winning streaks

High School Lites is focused on the small schools this week as the show sticks with Class 1A and Class 2A teams that you need to get familiar with before the state tournament. The show has some long winning streaks to keep an eye on as teams with 15, 14, 13 and 12-game winning streaks will all be featured on Friday night.

Be sure to catch an all-new edition of High School Lites on Friday on 11 p.m. on NBC Sports Chicago.

Thursday

Fenger at Corliss, 6:30 p.m. -- We head to the Public League White-South for this one as Corliss hosts Fenger. Corliss (16-2, 7-0) is riding a 14-game winning streak as they've only lost to one Illinois opponent this season. Senior big man George Conditt is a major All-Area threat as the Iowa State commit is putting up massive numbers. Fenger (8-7, 2-5) has dropped three straight games as they try to earn a win over a rival to get back in the conference mix.

Friday

Aurora Christian at Mooseheart, 7:30 p.m. -- Undefeated Aurora Christian heads to Northeastern Athletic rival Mooseheart in this one. The Eagles (15-0, 5-0) are the only unbeaten team left in the area as they feature senior guard Jake Wolfe, an All-Area candidate and Lipscomb commit. Mooseheart (8-2, 4-1) is also in the midst of a solid season as they had an easy win over Alden-Hebron in their last game. 

Alden-Hebron at Westminster Christian, 7:30 p.m. -- Staying in the Northeastern Athletic, Westminster Christian hosts Alden-Hebron. The Warriors (13-3, 5-0) have won three straight games, including an important win over Mooseheart that helped keep them tied for first place with Aurora Christian. Alden-Hebron (2-13, 1-4) wil try to earn its first win in over a month.

Burlington Central at Marengo, 7:00 p.m. -- Two of the better teams in the Kishwaukee Valley play here. Marengo (10-5, 1-1) is coming off a 10-day layoff after beating Genoa-Kingston on the road. Burlington Central (16-2, 3-0) has won 13 straight games as they won the Plano Christmas Classic and their own Martin Luther King event. 

Crane at Collins, 5:00 p.m. -- Two unbeatens collide in the Public League White-South in this one. Collins (11-5, 7-0) has won three of its last four as they held off Jones for a win earlier this week. Crane (11-8, 7-0) is also hot as they've won three straight games heading into this one, as they also got a win earlier this week over Clemente. 

Momence at Watseka, 7:30 p.m. -- A matchup of unbeatens teams in the Sangamon Valley in this one. Watseka (13-5, 2-0) has won four straight games as they look to take the lead in the conference. Momence (14-2, 3-0) had an 11-game winning streak snapped when they lost to Herscher on the road. 

Northridge at Latin, 6:00 p.m. -- The Independent School League's top two teams do battle in this one. Latin (12-6, 5-1) is trying to catch up with Northridge for the conference lead as they just had a major test against Niles North in a non-conference loss. Northridge (12-5, 6-0) is coming off a win earlier this week against Morgan Park Academy as they 

Beecher at St. Anne, 7:00 p.m. -- The River Valley is one of the most hotly-contested conference races in the area, as four teams sit within one game of first place. St. Anne (8-8, 5-1) currently leads the league over three other teams as they've won four of the their last five games. Beecher (9-11, 4-2) gave St. Anne its only conference loss with a 52-44 win on Nov. 30 at home. Now the Bobcats see if they can pick up the season sweep on the road.  

Christ The King at Hope Academy, 7:30 p.m. -- A Chicago Prep Red conference game in this one. Hope Academy (15-4, 1-0) has won seven of its last eight as they're one of the better small schools in the city. Christ the King (10-7, 1-1) is coming off a win over Eisenhower earlier this week as they try to gain a game on Hope Academy in the league standings. 

Viewers’ Choice Game of the Week

Ellison at Northtown, 6:30 p.m. -- Our Viewers' Choice Game of the Week heads to the Chicago Prep Black as two conference unbeatens play. Northtown (13-4, 1-0) has won 12 straight games since a 1-4 start as they haven't lost since Nov. 30. Ellison (9-10, 2-0) has won two straight games as they try to take the conference lead. These two teams also play a second conference game at Ellison later this season on Feb. 5.