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Golson grows up for Notre Dame

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Golson grows up for Notre Dame

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) The poised play of Everett Golson has Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly pleased with the quarterback's development heading toward a tough stretch of schedule.

The sophomore quarterback was 17 of 22 for 186 yards and ran for another 51 in a 41-3 victory against Miami on Saturday.

Those numbers won't set any records, but backed by Notre Dame's incredibly stingy defense, Golson doesn't need to. Kelly said Golson "grew up" before a sellout crowd at Chicago's Soldier Field.

His coming of age comes at just the right time, with 17th-ranked Stanford, BYU and 13th-ranked Oklahoma up next for the 5-0 Irish.

Kelly said Golson clearly benefited from having an off week before Miami.

By Thursday of last week, his knowledge of Miami's defensive schemes had become clear in practice, Kelly said.

Of course, he'll have no such luxury in preparing for Stanford.

"You're always concerned when you have a younger quarterback that he's going to be able to pick up a lot of things that a team like Stanford likes to do defensively," Kelly said.

"They're an aggressive defense, they bring a lot of looks. But I will say this: He did a lot of things in the second half that he had not done all year. He recognized pressure, did not run out of the pocket, stayed in there and delivered some balls on time. If that continues to show itself, he's going to be very, very difficult to defend because he's got that confidence level and a strong arm that he can deliver the ball."

Kelly said Golson is feeling more confident and he thinks his performance against Miami will be a "great step forward."

"We'll just take it one step at a time with Everett," Kelly said. "We're not ready to feel like we're anywhere near the finished product, but a game like this will certainly buoy his confidence and ability to really focus in on the details of practice."

No team in the country has allowed fewer touchdowns than Notre Dame (three), and the Irish are the only team in the nation that has yet to trail in a game. The last time the Irish went their first five games of the season without trailing was in 1947, when they won the national championship.

Kelly noted that before coming to Notre Dame three years ago, he had coached a lot of teams with high-powered offenses. Sometimes they ran up lots of points, but on their off days, they gave up more than they scored.

"The blueprint here is to not to try and outscore people and turn it into a track meet. It's to control the line of scrimmage, play great defense and be solid in the special teams. It's just a choice in the way I want our program to evolve."

He praised the work of his defensive coordinator, Bob Diaco.

"Think about what Coach Diaco has had to defend in the five weeks: An option offense (Navy), a run-first with a quarterback in Purdue, Michigan State with a grind-it-out great running back. It's been an outstanding performance to date. We've seen it all, now we just need to build on it."

ESPN's College Gameday will come to South Bend Saturday for the Stanford matchup.

While Kelly is cognizant of the need to shield his players from the noise and hype, he likes what the national attention means.

"You want to be in that group of football programs that have College Gameday on your campus," he said. "You want to be that program that appeals to the audience that we're out recruiting. You want to be in that 'in' crowd. You don't want to be on the outside looking in.

"We're excited about the spotlight being here in South Bend and for our program, and I'll just work real diligently this week to keep our guys on task."

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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: On to Vegas!

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USA TODAY Sports

Capitals Faceoff Podcast: On to Vegas!

The Capitals are the Eastern Conference Champions!

After dispatching Tampa Bay in Game 7, the Caps claimed the conference crown for just the second time in franchise history. But they're not done yet. Now it's on to Vegas to face the Golden Knights for the Stanley Cup.

JJ Regan and Tarik El-Bashir break down the Caps' win over the Lightning and look ahead to the matchup with the Knights.

Check out their latest episode in the player below or listen on the Capitals Faceoff Podcast page.

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Michigan's Moritz Wagner could be Wizards' solution for a stretch-five

Michigan's Moritz Wagner could be Wizards' solution for a stretch-five

The pre-draft workout process can be an exhausting journey for players, with so many flights, hotel rooms and NBA arenas that they can all blend in together. Michigan big man Moritz Wagner, though, may have felt a sense of comfort in Washington for his pre-draft workout for the Wizards on Wednesday.

It was just over a year ago that his Michigan Wolverines cut down the nets at Capital One Arena as champions of the Big Ten conference.

"It was good memories, man. Never gets old," he said while glancing around the stadium.

Wagner, 21, will be seeing a lot more of Capital One Arena once he joins the NBA ranks and it is conceivable he ends up in Washington. They hold the 15th pick in the first round and the 44th pick in the second round and Wagner could be within their reach.

Wagner had an impressive workout in Washington and could provide what the Wizards need. He is a big, mobile and can spread the floor. Wagner was terrific at stepping out to hit threes off pick-and-rolls at Michigan and that ability would work well with Wizards All-Star point guard John Wall.

Wagner measured in at just under 7-feet at this month's NBA Combine, fifth-tallest among those who attended. He averaged 14.6 points as a junior this past season and made 39.4 percent of his threes on 4.1 attempts per game.

With three years of college experience and an NBA-ready jumper, Wagner believes he can step right in and help the Wizards.

"I think what we did at Michigan, sharing the ball and playing as a team, very organized basketball, that can help big-time," he said. "It's basically pro basketball I was playing on a different level."

As Wagner will tell you, he is very confident in his abilities. He is comfortable in his own skin and that includes openly discussing his faults. He feels good about his ability to score at the next level. Defense is where he needs to prove himself.

Despite his size, Wagner wasn't much of a rim protector in college. He averaged just a half-block a game as a junior. The Wizards need rim protection badly and he likely would not provide that.

Wagner, though, believes he can bring more to the table defensively than the numbers would suggest.

"I think I've been an offensive guy all of my life, but the more that you mature as a player, you understand that both sides are important. Without defense, you aren't going to play at any level," he said.

"I think the most important thing that I wasn't able to show in college is that I'm able to switch the ball-screen, especially with the way the league is going. Switch on everything and stay in front of guards as a big guy."

Wagner is from Germany and looks up to Mavs legend Dirk Nowitzki, who is entering his 21st season and will be in the Hall of Fame someday. Nowitzki's game has always been built around shooting and, though he developed into a decent shot-blocker in his prime, was never an elite rim protector.

Wagner hopes to follow in his footsteps playing a similar style.

"He was my MJ. He kind of shows you 'okay, this is possible and this is doable.' It's just basketball," Wagner said. "It gives you a lot of hope. It gives you a lot of belief and motivation."

Hear more from Wagner in his one-on-one interview with Chris Miller in our latest Wizards Tipoff podcast. His interview can also be found in the video above:

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