When summer workouts began in preparation for the 2012 season, Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson seemed like an afterthought.
Veteran Tommy Rees who started games in each of the past two seasons was back, as was Andrew Hendrix who also saw playing time in 2011. Then there was the arrival of freshman Gunner Kiel who was considered the top QB prospect coming out of high school last year. The depth chart behind center was suddenly very packed.
Golson, a redshirt freshman from Myrtle Beach, S.C., was relegated to the Irish scout team last season and had a long way to go if he was going to see the field in 2012.
Now he is on the verge of leading No. 1 Notre Dame (12-0) to its first national title in 24 years when the Irish battle No. 2 Alabama (12-1) on Monday night in the BCS National Championship Game at Sun Life Stadium in Miami. Kickoff is set for 8:30 p.m. EST.
“Coming in [as a freshman last year] I thought I was ready to play, or had that confidence that I was ready to play. But it wasn’t that way for me,” Golson said. “Being put on the scout team really humbled me and made me kind of reassess myself.”
Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly surprised many when he named Golson the team’s starter back in August before heading to Ireland for the season opener against Navy. He played well in the 50-10 win, but would struggle in upcoming games against Purdue and Michigan and miss the game against BYU because of concussion.
Kelly pulled Golson in favor of Rees twice and it seemed a quarterback controversy was brewing, even though Kelly insisted it wasn’t. He backed up that claim by sticking with Golson, who had his best game of the season against Miami (Fla.) Oct. 6 at Soldier Field in Chicago, a 41-3 Irish victory.
“I think that built a little bit of confidence in me,” Golson said. “What was instilled in me there showed [later] in the Oklahoma game and the Pitt game.”
Against Oklahoma, Golson emerged with a poise and confidence that ND offensive coordinator Chuck Martin said he could see as he ran onto the field. Against Pitt the next week Golson was pulled again, but Kelly put him back in for the fourth quarter with the Irish trailing by 14 points. Golson brought the Irish all the way back for a 29-26 win in triple overtime.
“It’s been a steady improvement (for Golson) as the year has gone on,” Martin said. “The nice thing for him is he got thrown in the fire right away.”
The fire gets even hotter Monday night against an Alabama defense that is as strong as it’s ever been, leading the nation in rushing defense (79 yards per game) and second only to the Irish in scoring defense (10.69 points per game).
Led by linebacker C.J. Mosley and cornerback Dee Milliner, the Alabama defense has been one of the toughest to score on inside their 20-yard line. Opponents have come away with points inside the red zone just 63 percent of the time. That leads the nation.
The combination of Alabama’s strength on defense and Notre Dame’s slow progression on offense, has the defending national champion Crimson Tide installed as a 10-point favorite over the No. 1 Irish. Mosely said that doesn’t make a difference.
“It’s a championship game, so being the [favorite] or being the underdog doesn’t matter,” Mosely said. “Both teams are going to give it all they got.”
Mosely leads the ‘Bama defense with 99 tackles, 11 of those for a loss. Milliner has 51 tackles, two interceptions and 18 pass breakups.
In addition to Golson, who is a mobile, strong-armed quarterback, Alabama will have to deal with several Notre Dame weapons, both at the line of scrimmage and downfield.
The Irish one-two running back punch of Cierre Wood and Theo Riddick averages 74 and 73 yards per game, respectively. Tyler Eifert is one of the best tight ends in the country and often draws double coverage in red zone situations.
“I don’t think we have seen anyone like him,” Alabama linebacker Nico Johnson said of Eifert. “He has size and speed at the same time.”
Wide receiver TJ Jones has also emerged as threat, catching 43 passes for 559 yards and four touchdowns. Jones’ late father, Andre, was a defensive end on Notre Dame’s last national championship team in 1988.
As for Golson, who continued to get better as the season went, going up against one of the game’s great defenses is just another step in the process.
“Coming from the spring, one of [Coach Kelly’s] main focuses for me was the mechanics of being a quarterback,” Golson said. “I think he’s helped me out a lot with that and I’ve shown progression from the start of the season.
“Alabama has a great defense,” Golson added. “It’s definitely going to be a great opportunity to compete for this national championship.”
When summer workouts began in preparation for the 2012 season, Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson seemed like an afterthought.
Tough defeat: Inability to finish drops ISU women’s record to 3-4
It wasn’t a smooth ride for Indiana State’s women’s basketball team against IUPUI on Monday. Defense wasn’t up to par. Turnovers were rampant. Foul shooting was not consistent and misses were ill-timed.
ISU’s Munn, ex-Riverton Parke player Dickey earn MVC honors
Wabash VaIley athletes swept Missouri Valley Conference women’s basketball honors on Monday, with Indiana State’s Anna Munn named Player of the Week and Evansville’s Sara Dickey, a Riverton Parke graduate, earning Newcomer of the Week honors.
Strong defensive effort keys RHIT victory
Rose-Hulman placed three players in double figures and relied on a strong defensive effort to top Millikin 64-55 in men’s college basketball action Monday night.
Metro: Indiana Hall of Fame lauds two Wabash Valley athletes
Two players from the Wabash Valley have been named members of the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame Silver Anniversary Team that will be honored in March. Tony McGee and Kenny Rowan are members of the honor team.
ISU picks up the defense to take down Eastern Illinois
When it's cold outside, it takes a while for your car engine to crank.
It wasn't cold inside Eastern Illinois' Lantz Arena on Saturday, but the same principle applied for the Indiana State men's basketball team.
Once the Sycamore engine revved up, the Sycamores cruised to a 66-48 victory over the Panthers.
Michigan State shakes up national title chase with win over Ohio State
Michigan State shook up the BCS title chase again Saturday night.
The No. 10 Spartans regained the lead on Connor Cook's 9-yard touchdown pass to Josiah Price with 11:41 left and upset No. 2 Ohio State 34-24 to take the Big Ten title and put Auburn back in the national title hunt.
Zurek, one of ISU's best defenders, also working hard off the court
Winning basketball teams need glue players, the term sometimes used when referring to someone who helps hold it all together.
In some cases, that means getting the ball in the right place at the right time. Or having a knack for being in the right place at the right time.
It’s more often than not coming away with a loose ball on the court. It’s deflecting so many passes that you become the player that most annoys the opponent.
For Indiana State, that’s Natasha Zurek. The junior athletic training major was inserted into the starting lineup for the past two games.
Zurek leads the Sycamores with 16 steals through six games, which isn’t surprising to anyone on the team.
EIU might come at right time for ISU
Sometimes an opponent lines up just right on the schedule that suits a team’s needs.
That’s true for Indiana State as it travels to play Eastern Illinois at 8 p.m. today at Lantz Arena. And it’s not because the Panthers have struggled, even though they have.
Young gun: Freshman Belyea leads Engineers to second straight victory over Saint Mary-of-the Woods
Freshman women’s college basketball players sparked Saint Mary-of-the-Woods and Rose-Hulman on Wednesday in Hulbert Arena. Playing her first major minutes of the season, Rose-Hulman guard Kristen Belyea was the clutch shooter for the Engineers. In the second half, Belyea knocked down 4 of 6 from the field and 2 of 3 from the 3-point arc to help the Engineers earn a second straight victory in the rivalry with a 74-54 decision.
Strickland leads RHIT men to win
Rose-Hulman opened its Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference men's basketball season with a 66-50 victory at Anderson University on Wednesday.
Metro: Boys county title games set for tonight
A pair of championship games in the Vigo County middle school boys basketball tournament will be played today in West Vigo High School’s main gym. At 6 p.m., Woodrow Wilson will take on Sarah Scott for the sixth-grade title. Then at about 7:30, Wilson and Honey Creek will tangle for the seventh-grade crown.
METRO ROUNDUP: Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Rose-Hulman set to battle for Clabber Girl trophy
With the Clabber Girl Trophy hanging in the balance for the 21st time, the Rose-Hulman women’s basketball team will welcome crosstown rival Saint Mary-of-the-Woods to Hulbert Arena today for a 7:30 p.m. matchup.
The Engineers (0-4) will look to defend their title after capturing the Clabber Girl Trophy for the first time since 2008 with last season’s 80-74 victory.
ISU’s Underwood named first team All-MVC
Sophomore linebacker/defensive end Connor Underwood was named to the all-Missouri Valley Football Conference first team on Monday, heading a list of five Indiana State players honored.
Red-hot Strickland leads Engineers past Wabash 77-68
Julian Strickland tied his career-high point total with 31 Monday night — his third consecutive 30-point game this season — as host Rose-Hulman downed Wabash 77-68 in Hulbert Arena.
Metro sports: ISU women play today at No. 15 LSU
Indiana State’s women finish a three-game road swing by playing nationally ranked LSU at 12:30 p.m. today at Baton Rouge.
Rose-Hulman women fall short to Marian
A clutch 3-pointer and free throws down the stretch sealed the home victory for Marian University in Saturday’s competitive 50-45 nonconference victory over the Rose-Hulman women’s basketball team.
Strickland pours in 30, but the Engineers fall in home opener
Carroll University withstood a last-minute challenge by Rose-Hulman to earn a 67-64 men’s basketball victory in the Engineers’ home opener Saturday afternoon in Hulbert Arena.
Indiana State holds off hot-shooting Pepperdine
Indiana State’s men’s basketball team is very much a work in progress defensively. Evidence of that came Saturday when Pepperdine shot 57.8 percent against the Sycamores in the fourth-place game of the Great Alaska Shootout.
But when it came down to winning time? Pepperdine’s Waves crashed on the rocks of ISU’s defense.
Hoosiers gain 692 total yards, re-claim Oaken Bucket
Although his team fell well short of defending its possession of the Old Oaken Bucket Saturday against Indiana, Purdue’s freshman quarterback Danny Etling — a Terre Haute South grad — showed poise and talent in bringing the Boilermakers back in the second half in a 56-36 loss.
Sycamores outpace Seawolves
Indiana State wanted a better defensive effort in its Great Alaska Shootout consolation semifinal game against host Alaska-Anchorage on Friday, but the Seawolves weren’t going to give the Sycamores an orthodox offense to assess themselves with.
Prep/Metro roundup: Marshall girls pick up big wins at Robinson
Marshall’s Lions got a huge girls high school basketball victory Friday afternoon at the Robinson Thanksgiving Tournament, downing Mt. Carmel and 2013 Illinois Miss Basketball Tyra Buss 57-53.
Uneven Sycamores fall 63-62 to Tulsa
Indiana State loses to Tulsa 63-62 in opening game of Great Alaska Shootout
Tulsa's switching defenses confounded Sycamores
Tulsa paid Indiana State the respect they feel the Sycamores earned with a 3-1 start and a win at Notre Dame on Nov. 17.
So the Golden Hurricane threw multiple defenses at the Sycamores.
On target: Sycamores spreading the wealth with their shooting
Indiana State’s men's basketball team did many things right during the 2012-13 season, but one thing it couldn’t get a handle on was its 3-point shooting. The Sycamores shot 32.1 percent from 3-point range, ranked 252nd in the nation. It was going to take a lot of work to improve ISU’s percentage. So far, hard work has had its own reward.
O’Leary eyes return to Hulman Center
Former Terre Haute North standout Matt O’Leary is hoping to help Loyola Chicago coach Porter Moser turn the program into a new chapter of success in a new conference.
College report: Gardner jumps at chance to play for ISU
Cody Gardner enjoyed his freshman baseball season at Wright State and earned more time on the field than he honestly expected to get. Coach Rob Cooper departed WSU after last season to take over at Penn State, however, and Gardner jumped at the chance to return to his hometown as an Indiana State Sycamore and perform for the school where two members of his family previously excelled.
Young Evansville team unable to threaten Indiana
Indiana coach Tom Crean surprised everyone by starting senior walk-on Jeff Howard. Evansville didn’t give themselves the chance to surprise the Hoosiers.
Metro roundup: Rose star is conference POW
After a career-high 31-point performance on Saturday night, Rose-Hulman senior Julian Strickland has been named Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Men’s Basketball Player of the Week.
NCAA championships: Runners face muddy course, stiff winds as well as each other at Gibson course
More than 500 runners were prepared for a muddy course, but the NCAA’s elite also had to fight a wind chill in the teens Saturday at LaVern Gibson Championship Course.
Nothing was going to stop Oregon’s Edward Cheserek, who upset defending champion Kennedy Kithuka of Texas Tech or women’s champion Abbey D’Agostino, who adds her first NCAA title in cross country to her four national titles on the track.
ISU defeats Truman
What do you expect when a Division II team pays a visit to a Division I arena?
In Truman State’s case, you can expect a pretty good showing. Indiana State had some nervous moments against the Bulldogs, but the Sycamores prevailed 80-69 on Friday at Hulman Center.
- More College Headlines
- Tough defeat: Inability to finish drops ISU women’s record to 3-4