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Football: Backup battle

Matthew DeFranks | Tuesday, September 4, 2012

After starting 12 games last year and serving a one-game suspension Saturday, junior quarterback Tommy Rees will now battle for the No. 2 spot behind sophomore quarterback Everett Golson.

Golson started his first game for No. 22 Notre Dame during the season-opening 50-10 win over Navy. He will also start when the Irish (1-0) face Purdue (1-0) on Saturday.

Rees and junior quarterback Andrew Hendrix will vie for the backup job. Irish coach Brian Kelly said he had not decided on who will be the backup for Saturday and the two will continue to share reps.

“It will be, for me, probably more about making sure that we get Tommy up to a level where he can be sharp if he’s in a position where he had to go into the game, and I don’t know if he’s got enough work yet,” Kelly said. “He’ll get work at [backup] as well as Andrew and we’ll see how that progresses during the week.

“We saw some of the things that we wanted in terms of ball security and good decision making [from Tommy], and we’ll continue to work on that.  But Tommy is a very valuable player to our program.  He’s got a lot of experience, and we are happy to have him.”

Kelly said Rees was helpful in the development of Golson and Hendrix during the offseason.

“You know, he was a great teammate, that’s all I would tell you.  He was a great teammate.  He handled himself the right way.”

Secondary developments
After losing junior safety Austin Collinsworth and junior cornerback Lo Wood to injury during the offseason, Notre Dame began the season shorthanded in the secondary. The young and inexperienced defensive backfield looked suspect during Notre Dame’s win over Navy.

The Irish gave up 192 passing yards to Midshipmen junior quarterback Trey Miller – 43 yards more than they surrendered on the ground to the triple option attack

Freshman cornerback KeiVarae Russell, freshman safety Nicky Baratti and sophomore safety Matthias Farley all saw their first significant playing time in the secondary Saturday.

“We [have] a number of young, talented players that we need to continue to work,” Kelly said. “Nicky Baratti, Hardy, we had a number of guys that played limited roles in special teams, but important roles.  We’ll continue to do that.  So each and every week, you’re going to see their names popping up and as they continue to grow and develop, hopefully we get a chance to see them play more and more.”

Injury updates
Kelly updated the media on some injuries during Tuesday’s press conference.

Junior offensive tackle Tate Nichols, sidelined with a knee injury, went through individual work Tuesday but was withheld from any team activities. Kelly said Nichols lifted in the weight room last week and has begun to reengage in football-related activities.

Junior linebacker Danny Spond, hampered by migranes, has been cleared for everything except physical contact. Kelly said he hopes Spond will be cleared for next week.

Sophomore running back Amir Carlisle, battling an ankle injury, has been cleared to practice and will be part of Notre Dame’s practice rotation, Kelly said.

Kelly also said sophomore running backs Cam McDaniel and George Atkinson, who were both dinged up in the win over Navy, will be ready to play against Purdue.


Contact Matthew DeFranks at mdefrank@nd.edu