Martin's return keys Golson's growth, Irish RB transition


Martin's return keys Golson's growth, Irish RB transition

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- A common thread through Everett Golson's development has been a level of poise not always seen from first-time starters. In pressure-packed situations at Oklahoma and USC, Golson looked calm and confident, and he has his natural disposition to credit for that.

But no matter how cool of a quarterback Golson is, that poise may not have been there without good blind side protection. And that protection came from Chris Watt and Zack Martin on the left side of Notre Dame's offensive line.

"I dont even think Everett knows about a blind side," offensive coordinator Chuck Martin joked last week.

Golson was sacked 13 times, hardly a beating compared to plenty of other quarterbacks around the nation. Coach Martin chalked a lot of that up to the spectacular play of lineman Martin.

"Ridiculous," Martin said. "I tell coach, he should have two scholarships. And hes been so good every week, so, so consistent every play. He rarely misses his block, rarely ever."

Having Martin back for 2013 -- he decided to forgo entry into the NFL Draft, despite a second-round projection -- will be key in not only continuing Golson's development, but also for helping transition to a new crop of running backs.

Theo Riddick will play his final game Jan. 7 in South Florida, while Cierre Wood is still deciding whether he'll enter the NFL Draft or not. If Wood doesn't return, some combination of George Atkinson III, Amir Carlilse, William Mahone, Cam McDaniel and incoming freshman Greg Bryant will be counted on to fill the void left by Notre Dame's senior backs.

There's a lot of talent in that group, but not much experience beyond Atkinson's sporadic use and McDaniel's gains late in blowouts. But the playbook may not change too much from where it is now, and that's with Notre Dame leaning heavily on Martin and Watt for run blocking purposes.

"We certainly use the left side of our offensive line, Id say at times at a ridiculous rate," Chuck Martin said. "Im not giving away any secrets. Alabama can listen to the press conference -- theyre not very good at what they do if they dont know some of our tendencies running the football. We typically like to go left, so its not by accident."

Another year of Martin and Watt on that side of the line may not change things.

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 10th, 11th homers in 1998

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 10th, 11th homers in 1998

It's the 20th anniversary of the Summer of Sammy, when Sosa and Mark McGwire went toe-to-toe in one of the most exciting seasons in American sports history chasing after Roger Maris' home run record. All year, we're going to go homer-by-homer on Sosa's 66 longballs, with highlights and info about each. Enjoy.

Sosa is heating up, but even a red-hot Sosa doesn't automatically equal wins for the Cubs.

Slammin' Sammy notched his first multi-homer game in 1998 in a 9-5 loss to Kevin Millwood and the Atlanta Braves. Sosa drove in 4 of the Cubs' 5 runs on a solo shot in the 4th inning and a three-run shot in the 8th. 

Sosa tallied 830 feet of homers in the game, with his first blast going 410 feet and the second shot measured at 420 feet.

The big game bumped Sosa's overall season slash line to .337/.411/.551 (.962 OPS) with 11 homers and 35 RBI.

Fun fact: Mickey Morandini hit second for the Cubs in this game and went 4-for-4, but somehow only scored one run despite hitting just in front of Sosa all game. That's because Morandini was caught stealing to end the 3rd inning, leaving Sosa to lead off the 4th inning with a solo blast.

Steve Kerr told a Michael Jordan Bulls story to give advice to Kevin Durant

Steve Kerr told a Michael Jordan Bulls story to give advice to Kevin Durant

Anyone who lived through the Michael Jordan Bulls remembers those games when he was putting up tons of points, but the Bulls were still struggling overall.

Steve Kerr referenced one of those games to give advice to Kevin Durant during Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals. The TNT broadcast caught the conversation and aired it late in the third quarter.

"When MJ was with the Bulls, we had a playoff game," Kerr began the story. "He kept trying to score and he was scoring, but we weren't getting anything going. Phil Jackson said 'Who's open?' He said, 'John Paxson.'"

Paxson famously hit the game-winning shot in Game 6 of the 1993 NBA Finals to clinch the series. Kerr, who later hit his own championship-winning shot on an assist from Jordan in 1997, was trying to get to get his teammates involved.

"I want to trust your teammates early," Kerr said. "What you're doing is you're getting to the rim and then you're trying to hit him. I want you to trust the first guy and then move. Still attack, still look to score, but trust these guys, OK?"

Watch the video above to see the interaction.

Durant scored 29 points in Game 5 to lead the Warriors, but Houston took a 3-2 series lead with a 98-94 win.