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Offense growing with Golson for No. 4 Notre Dame

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Offense growing with Golson for No. 4 Notre Dame

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) Brian Kelly folded his arms across his chest and shook his head in disgust at a promising Notre Dame drive that stalled out in the red zone.

His young quarterback, Everett Golson, had just planted a third-down throw in the grass a few feet too far away for second-team All-American Tyler Eifert to dive and catch it on the 13th play of a series that had lasted nearly 7 minutes.

All that work would end up with no payoff when Kyle Brindza missed wide left on a 35-yard field goal attempt, but it could pay dividends down the road when it comes to Golson's growth.

As his quarterback came to the sideline, Kelly put one arm on either side of Golson's waist and drove home a point: When you have a talented 6-foot-5 tight end, put the ball up high where he has an advantage on defenders, not down on the ground.

``Every single play, there's something out there that needs to be communicated and it's very important that I got it across to him because later it ended up being a big play for us,'' Kelly said, referring to a pass Golson delivered high for a leaping 22-yard catch on the next drive by 6-foot-2 DaVaris Daniels.

``When you're dealing with a young quarterback, you have to take those moments. I can't control that kick at that point, so it was important that I got my point across at that time and not wait.''

Golson, who because of injury or ineffective play was unable to complete three games in the first half of the season, is starting to show signs of maturing into the type of leader the Fighting Irish (8-0) will need to stay in the national championship picture for the final month of the season.

Following a 30-13 win at then-No. 8 Oklahoma, the Irish moved up to No. 4 in The Associated Press poll on Sunday. They return home to face Pittsburgh (4-4) next Saturday.

Before Saturday night, much of Notre Dame's ascent had been built around a three-headed power running attack and the nation's second-stingiest defense, led by Heisman Trophy hopeful Manti Te'o at linebacker. But against the Sooners, Kelly said it was ``the first time that we showed that we could be on our own a little bit offensively and put some points on the board.''

``If we continue to go that way, it's going to give us an offense that's going to be difficult to defend because we'll have great balance,'' Kelly said Sunday. ``That's what we're trying to get with Everett in there: Not an offense that throws it 50 times nor an offense that runs it 50 times, one that's balanced and difficult to defend.''

That's exactly what the Irish got in their most difficult test of the season so far, while stuffing Oklahoma's run game and turning the Sooners - who were fifth in the nation in scoring - into a one-dimensional attack that could only complete short passes.

The Irish held a 215-15 advantage on the ground, with Golson contributing 64 yards rushing to go with his 177 through the air.

After missing the previous week's win against BYU because of a concussion, Golson said he got a different perspective from the sideline and came back with changes in mind. Chief among them: ``Just the relationship with the other players, the other 10 guys on the offense,'' Golson said. ``I definitely just wanted to improve in that.''

``It had a tremendous effect, just seeing it outside of me actually being out there really helped me,'' Golson added. ``Just kind of seeing it from the sideline perspective. It made me realize a couple things that we needed to work on.''

Kelly said he thinks Golson's week off allowed him to see that he had been a less assertive leader than backup Tommy Rees, who won two games in relief of Golson plus the BYU game. He's also shown more willingness lately to accept coaching to change the fundamentals of his drop-back and in return let the coaches know what plays he's most comfortable running.

``I just think he's beginning to realize those detail things we've been banging him on the head with will actually make him a better quarterback,'' Kelly said. ``I think by getting a chance to step back and see it, and watching it, I think he realized more and more how important it is to be disciplined in those areas.

``Then I think he just flat out made a decision that `I know this coaching is going to help me and I'm going to take it to heart.'''

Golson also showed some toughness when he scrambled on the next-to-last play of the third quarter and got flattened by Oklahoma's Tony Jefferson. He was able to walk off after staying down on the field for a few moments, but he returned as soon as possible to finish the game off.

``He got hit pretty hard on one play and came back in. He sat out the one play because you have to and then came back and led the offense back down the field,'' receiver T.J. Jones said. ``He's starting to mature as a quarterback and a leader as well.''

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Tom Coyne contributed to this report from South Bend, Ind.

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Jay Gruden shown no love in preseason coaches ranking

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USA Today Sports

Jay Gruden shown no love in preseason coaches ranking

Yahoo! Sports ranked all 32 head coaches in the NFL and Washington Redskins fans may not be too happy with where Jay Gruden ended up.

Entering his fifth year as head coach, Gruden was ranked as the No. 27 head coach in the NFL. Here's Yahoo!'s rationale behind his ranking:

"Four years, one playoff berth, one plus-.500 season, one franchise quarterback run out of town."

All that is ... not false, but the whole franchise quarterback being run out of town thing is at least debatable. And even if the ranking is fair, it's still okay to be upset because it's the middle of July, training camp hasn't started yet and the offseason is the perfect time to get irrationally angry about things like these.

Elsewhere in the NFC, Giants head coach Pat Shurmur checks in at No. 23, Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett is No. 17 and the Eagles' Doug Pederson is No. 2.

Unsurprisingly, Bill Belichick was ranked No. 1; he may be the greatest of all time when all is said and done, if not already. The top five rounds out with Pederson at No. 2, New Orleans's Sean Payton at No. 3, Minnesota's Mike Zimmer at No. 4 and Pittsburgh's Mike Tomlin at No. 5.

MORE REDSKINS NEWS:

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Stroman pitches 7 sharp innings as Blue Jays beat Orioles 4-1

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USA Today Sports

Stroman pitches 7 sharp innings as Blue Jays beat Orioles 4-1

TORONTO (AP) -- Blue Jays right-hander Marcus Stroman gave up hits to the first three Baltimore batters Saturday.

The Orioles got just two more hits the rest of the afternoon.

Stroman pitched seven sharp innings for his second win in three starts and Toronto beat Baltimore 4-1 for its sixth straight victory over the struggling Orioles.

"He started working both sides of the plate with his sinker and I think that threw them off a little bit, especially late in counts," Blue Jays catcher Luke Maile said. "Overall it was just kind of vintage Stroman."

Baltimore right-hander Alex Cobb picked up his major league-worst 13th loss. The Orioles dropped to 1-8 against Toronto this season.

"I absolutely hate seeing that win-loss in parentheses next to my name," Cobb said. "It's sickening."

Stroman (3-7) allowed one run and five hits. He threw a season-high 107 pitches, the first time this season he has topped 100.

Stroman is 3-2 with a 3.03 ERA in five starts since returning from a shoulder injury that caused him to miss more than a month. He went 0-5 in seven starts before the injury.

"Since he's come back from the DL he's been really good," manager John Gibbons said. "I just think he's pitching like he's always pitched."

Stroman said he's focused on forgetting his early season struggles.

"I know I didn't have the first half I wanted but I've always been someone who prides myself on the second half and finishing strong," Stroman said. "That's something I'll look to continue to do this year."

Friend and teammate Devon Travis likes what he's seen from Stroman since the right-hander returned from injury.

"He's got that fire back," Travis said. "He's really under control. I think he's locking in on every single pitch."

Seunghwan Oh worked the eighth and Ryan Tepera finished for his seventh save in 12 opportunities.

Baltimore scored one run or fewer for the 27th time, the most in the majors.

The first three Orioles batters all singled, although Jonathan Schoop was thrown out trying to stretch his hit into a double. After Adam Jones gave Baltimore a 1-0 lead with an RBI hit to right, Mark Trumbo grounded into an inning-ending double play.

The Blue Jays answered with a three-run fourth against Cobb, taking advantage of a key Orioles error.

Justin Smoak opened the inning with a walk and, following a video review, was ruled safe at second after Cobb's high throw pulled shortstop Tim Beckham off the base on at attempted force play.

"That's not it in a nutshell but I can understand why that's the focus, a play we haven't been making," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said.

Randal Grichuk followed with an RBI double, a second run scored on Diaz's double play grounder, and Maile capped the rally with an RBI single.

Diaz had four hits Friday, including the game-winning single in the 10th. He went 2 for 3 Saturday with a pair of singles.

The Blue Jays made it 4-1 in the fifth when Teoscar Hernandez doubled, advanced on a fly ball and scored on Cobb's balk.

Cobb (2-13) lost his sixth straight decision, allowing four runs, one earned, and four hits in five innings. Showalter said Cobb was removed to avoid worsening a blister on his pitching hand.

"I was only going to have a few more pitches going into the sixth so he felt like the risk-reward was not really worth it," Cobb said.

Grichuk made the defensive play of the game, a running catch on the warning track in left center to retire Trumbo for the first out of the ninth.

GOING DOWN?

Jones and Chris Davis got stuck in an elevator at the team's downtown hotel following Friday night's defeat. Jones documented much of the saga on Instagram. The players and fellow passengers were eventually rescued by Toronto Fire Services staff. The sound system at Rogers Centre played a few bars of Aerosmith's `Love in an Elevator' before Jones batted in the fourth inning Saturday.

NO HOMERS

Toronto won without hitting a home run for just the third time in 26 games this season.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Orioles: Baltimore is expected to demote a reliever when RHP Andrew Cashner (neck) is activated off the 10-day disabled list Sunday.

UP NEXT

Cashner (2-9, 4.56) last pitched July 10, when he allowed five runs and five hits in 6 1-3 innings against the Yankees. Blue Jays LHP J.A. Happ (10-6, 4.29) is 0-3 with a 9.75 ERA in three July starts.