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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."

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Reacting to Round 1 of NHL Draft

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Reacting to Round 1 of NHL Draft

On the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, Pat Boyle and Charlie Roumeliotis recap Round 1 of the 2018 NHL Draft.

They discuss the pair of puck-carrying defensemen that the Blackhawks selected on Friday, Adam Boqvist and Nicolas Beaudin. When can we expect to see these first-round picks play in the NHL?

Boyle also goes 1-on-1 with Boqvist and Beaudin. The guys spoke with Stan Bowman and Joel Quenneville on Friday.

The guys also share their biggest takeaways from those interviews, which includes your daily Corey Crawford update and Quenneville appeared excited that the team has plenty of cap space to spend in free agency.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

It's only one start, but that's the Lucas Giolito that White Sox fans expected to see this season

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USA TODAY

It's only one start, but that's the Lucas Giolito that White Sox fans expected to see this season

The preseason expectations and the results have been drastically different for Lucas Giolito.

Expected to be the best pitcher on the White Sox starting staff, Giolito hasn’t come too close to that title, instead heading into Friday’s doubleheader with the most earned runs allowed of any pitcher in baseball. His walk total has been among the highest in the game all year long, too. And the calls from social media to send him down to Triple-A haven’t been at all infrequent.

But Friday, White Sox fans got a glimpse at what they expected, a look at the guy who earned so much hype with a strong September last season and a dominant spring training.

It wasn’t a performance that would make any reasonable baseball person’s jaw drop. But it was the best Giolito has looked this season. He still allowed four runs on seven hits — as mentioned, not a Cy Young type outing — but he struck out a season-high eight batters. Prior to giving up the back-to-back singles to start the eighth inning that brought an end to his evening, he’d surrendered just two runs.

Most importantly he walked just two guys and didn’t seem to struggle with his command at all. That’s a big deal for a pitcher who had 45 walks to his name prior to Friday.

“You know it was a tough eighth inning, but throughout the whole game, I felt in sync,” Giolito said. “(Catcher Omar Narvaez) and I were working really well, finally commanding the fastball the way I should. Definitely the best I felt out there this year, for sure. Velocity was up a tick. Just felt right, felt in sync. Just competed from there.”

Confidence has never left Giolito throughout the poor results, and he’s talked after every start about getting back on the horse and giving it another try. Consistently working in between starts, things finally seemed to click Friday night.

“It all worked today,” manager Rick Renteria said. “(Pitching coach Don Cooper) says that every bullpen has gotten better, from the beginning to this point. He sees progress. The velocity that he showed today was something that Coop was seeing in his work. You can see that his delivery is continuing to improve. He was trusting himself, really attacking the strike zone, trusted his breaking ball today when he need to and just tried to command as much as he could. Did a nice job.”

Giolito went through this kind of thing last year, when he started off poorly at Triple-A Charlotte with a 5.40 ERA through his first 16 starts. But then things got better, with Giolito posting a 2.78 ERA over his final eight starts with the Knights before getting called up to the big leagues.

This was just one start, of course, but perhaps he can follow a similar formula this year, too, going from a rough beginning to figuring things out.

“I’m not trying to tinker or think about mechanics anymore,” he said. “It’s about flow, getting out there and making pitches. We were able to do that for the most part.

“I’ll watch video and see certain things, and I have little cues here and there. But I’m not going to go and overanalyze things and nitpick at certain stuff anymore. It’s about going there and having fun and competing.”

Maybe that’s the secret. Or maybe this is simply a brief flash of brilliance in the middle of a tough first full season in the bigs.

Whatever it was, it was the best we’ve seen of Giolito during the 2018 campaign. And it was far more like what was expected back before that campaign got going.