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Notre Dame goes into BYU game with QB questions

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Notre Dame goes into BYU game with QB questions

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) BYU worked this week getting ready to face both Notre Dame quarterbacks Everett Golson and Tommy Rees on Saturday. Turns out Cougars coach Bronco Mendenhall and his staff should have been getting ready for a third option, just in case.

Coach Brian Kelly added more intrigue into the Notre Dame quarterback situation Thursday evening by saying he wouldn't decide on a starter for the fifth-ranked Fighting Irish (6-0) until game time, and added the choice might be Andrew Hendrix. The Irish have been using Golson as a starter and Rees as the closer with great success.

The cause of Kelly's uncertainty is a concussion sustained by Golson on a helmet-to-helmet hit against Stanford. Golson has been cleared to play, but Kelly wants more time to evaluate whether the sophomore is ready.

BYU (4-3) enters the game with the nation's fifth-rated defense giving up an average of 261 yards a game even after No. 8 Oregon State amassed 450 yards total offense against the Cougars last week. Mendenhall is looking for his defense to bounce back.

``I'm anxious to perform how our defense performed the first six weeks, not the last week. That's my main focus right now, getting them to perform again the way I know they're capable,'' Mendenhall said.

The Cougars gave up 42 points last week against an Oregon State team that was using backup quarterback Cody Vaz, who hadn't started since he was in high school. BYU could be facing the same scenario this week if the Irish start Hendrix, the backup last season. Hendrix, a strong runner, has appeared in six games the past two seasons, completing 22 of 42 passes for 302 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. He's also rushed for 189 yards on 31 carries, or 6.1 yards a carry.

BYU also could face Rees, a less mobile quarterback who had 17 starts and knows the Irish offense the best. He helped lead the Irish to late game victories over Purdue and Stanford and replaced a struggling Golson in the second quarter against Michigan.

``I think more than anything it's supporting my teammates and trying to give them the best,'' Rees said. ``They look to me when I come in and I can't let them down. We have to find a way to win the game.''

The Cougars have quarterback issues as well. Riley Nelson threw three interceptions against Oregon State after missing the previous two games with a back injury and argued with offensive coordinator Brandon Doman on the sideline during the game. Mendenhall said he has confidence in Nelson, saying he improves BYU.

``But we do need to take better care of the football,'' he said.

The Cougars also are looking for better play from their defense, which hadn't given up a touchdown in three games before giving up 42 points to Oregon State.

``We want to go out and make sure everybody knows that wasn't us,'' linebacker Spencer Hadley said.

Notre Dame's defense is ranked 11th nationally, giving up 287 yards, and is coming off a thrilling finish where the Irish stopped Stanford twice from inside the 1 in overtime to hold on for the 20-13 victory. The Irish defense hasn't allowed a touchdown in four straight games, the longest such streak for the Irish since 1980.

``We want to dominate opponents,'' linebacker Manti Te'o said. ``The best way to do that is to keep the points down. Along the way of doing that, we've managed to limit those points and the touchdowns.''

Te'o, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said the game against BYU doesn't have any special significance because of his religion or because he was heavily recruited by BYU and has friends and a cousin playing for the Cougars.

``It's just game seven. I think I said this before: When you start to do things differently than you've done in the past, then bad things start to happen. I've been there before. I've made the mistake of being overly excited for a game and it hurt me. So fortunately for me, I've been there, done that. That's a mistake that won't happen again,'' he said.

It's a theme repeated by Irish players, who say with a win over No. 22 Stanford last week and a game at No. 10 Oklahoma looming, they won't overlook BYU because they know how important each game is.

``As much success as we're having, you can't let success be your downfall,'' running back Theo Riddick said. ``We understand we've just reached the halfway mark and we still have plenty of football to play.''

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AP Sports Writer Lynn DeBruin in Provo, Utah, contributed to this report.

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What's next for Barry Trotz?

What's next for Barry Trotz?

Barry Trotz is no longer the head coach of the Washington Capitals and, after resigning Monday afternoon, he is officially free to pursue other opportunities.

So what's next for the now former Capitals head coach?

For those who believe Trotz will simply retire, that seems unlikely. Trotz is only 55 years old.

General manager Brian MacLellan indicated the main issue in the contract negotiations between him and Trotz was term. If Trotz was, in fact, seeking a five-year contract, that doesn't sound like someone who is ready to walk away from the game.

There is only one head coaching vacancy left in the NHL, that of the New York Islanders. New President of Hockey Operations Lou Lamoriello cleaned house after getting hired and fired both general manager Garth Snow and head coach Doug Weight earlier in June.

Now, suddenly, there is a Stanley Cup-winning coach on the market.

While it certainly makes sense for the Islanders to pursue Trotz, there's one big reason why Trotz, or anyone, would likely be hesitant to accept the job on Long Island and that is John Tavares.

New York's franchise player is a pending free agent and, until his contract situation is resolved, convincing anyone to take the head coaching job with the Islanders is a tough sell. If the Islanders re-sign Tavares, improve the defense and bring in a dependable starting goalie, then there is no reason to think they cannot be a playoff team.

But those are a lot of "ifs" and Tavares is a big one. If he goes, suddenly the situation on Long Island is much different. Tavares' decision could be the difference between the Islanders being a playoff team or getting a high lottery pick.

For Trotz to walk away from a team that just won the Stanley Cup to go to a New York team that may or may not have its best player back next season does not make a lot of sense.

But just because there may be only one head coaching vacancy open doesn't mean Trotz does not have any options.

The 2017-18 season saw no head coaching changes made during the season for the first time since the league expanded in 1967. Chances are jobs will begin to open up during the season especially if those teams believe they can land a Cup-winning coach as a replacement.

If you're Trotz, you just won a Stanley Cup. There is no reason to rush into another opportunity. Trotz will instantly be near or at the top of every wish list for teams in need of a head coach.

Don't just assume that Trotz will be on Long Island to start the 2018-19 season just because it is the only opportunity currently available. He can wait for the perfect opportunity to come to him.

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Cavaliers are gunning for Kawhi Leonard, though it's doubtful they have enough to interest Spurs

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Cavaliers are gunning for Kawhi Leonard, though it's doubtful they have enough to interest Spurs

With word out that Kawhi Leonard wants a trade from the Spurs, teams are lining up with offers to San Antonio and one of the NBA’s best teams has reportedly already made a call.

The Cleveland Cavaliers have contacted the Spurs about a potential Leonard trade, according to Cleveland.com. Terry Pluto wrote on Sunday that multiple teams have done the same. That is to expected, of course, as Leonard is one of the best players in the NBA. He's a two-time defensive player of the year and he's only 26.

Let's look at Cleveland as a potential destination. It should first be noted that it's questionable whether they have enough to land a player of Leonard's caliber. They have the eighth overall pick in Thursday's draft, but it may take a lot more than that to get Leonard.

They also have Kevin Love, who is an All-Star still in his prime. But if they gave him up, they would then need to seek more help to surround Leonard and LeBron James, if James decides to stay. Though James and Leonard are both top-five players in the NBA, they still likely wouldn't be able to beat the Warriors unless they had another running mate. Those two plus Love and then you're talking.

Whether the Cavs have the goods to land Leonard or not, it's no wonder why they are trying for him. Getting Leonard, a two-time All-NBA selection, would likely be enough to retain James, the best player in the game. If James were to look around the league for a top-shelf running mate, he would be hard-pressed to find one better than Leonard.

That is assuming Leonard is healthy, of course. He did miss all but nine games this past season with a quadriceps injury. That injury was central in a saga of discord between him and the team. Until he hits the court again, Leonard offers no guarantees. Still, he may be worth the risk for Cleveland, as the alternative is potentially seeing James walk. 

If the Cavs got Leonard, that would probably solidify their standing as the best team in the Eastern Conference, even if they lost Love in the process. Leonard is better than Love and they would arguably have the two best players in the East. They may not have enough to beat the Warriors, but that would likely give them the edge over the young teams like Boston and Philly that have been nipping at their heels.

Sending Leonard to the Cavs would get him out of the Western Conference and that might be enticing to the Spurs. If they send him to the Lakers, his reported preferred destination, that could come back to bite them much more often than it would if he was traded to the East. Though putting him in Cleveland would form another very good team, they wouldn't affect the Spurs directly but for two regular season games, unless they were to meet in the NBA Finals.

The Spurs haven't indicated they will actually trade Leonard, but it does seem to be heading in that direction. It sounds like Cleveland will at the very least give it a shot. 

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