NCAA FB

ND's Kelly would have pulled Golson regardless

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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP)

Coach Brian Kelly was ready to make a change even before starter Evertt Golson hurt his thumb. Tommy Rees was going to be Notre Dame's quarterback for a final-two minute drive in a tie game.

''The knowledge of running our two-minute trumped any kind of injury that he (Golson) may have had,'' Kelly said Sunday. ''Now, it (the injury) contributed in the end to make it an easier decision for me.''

Rees returned from a one-game suspension and led the Irish downfield, a drive capped by Kyle Brindza's 27-yard field goal with 7 seconds left that produced a 20-17 win over Purdue on Saturday and a 2-0 start.

Golson, who'd injured his thumb while fumbling on a play that set up Purdue's tying TD, wanted to stay in the game. The injury wasn't debilitating but he was having trouble gripping the ball.

''I think anybody that gets taken out of the game is going to react in a manner that he wants to play; and if they don't, I don't want him to be our quarterback,'' Kelly said Sunday.''I know Everett wanted to be in the game and that's a good thing. But he's been supported by Tommy and Andrew (Hendrix) and now it was his chance to support Tommy in that situation.''

Rees and Golson were not made available to reporters after the game, even though Rees gave a short TV interview on the field after the game.

Kelly made one thing clear Saturday: Golson is still the starter as the No. 22 Irish head into Saturday's game at Michigan State.

The Irish had to use some timeouts when the play clock was close to expiring and Golson was sacked five times, but he did complete 21 of 31 for 289 yards and a TD.

Using a baseball analogy, Kelly said he wants his starters to finish the game but sometimes it's necessary to bring in a reliever such as Rees, who started 12 games last season. His status was put in jeopardy after he was arrested following a skirmish with police after a party in May.

So is Rees now the Irish's designated reliever?

''It's not a role. I see it as if we feel like Tommy can help us win a game or he can come in in a situation where we believe it's the right fit, then he'll be prepared to do so,'' Kelly said.

And Golson, who was making his home debut Saturday, doesn't need to be looking over his shoulder, even though Kelly has never been shy about hooking his quarterbacks throughout his career. He benched Dayne Crist after one half of the opener last season and installed Rees.

''He's going to know that what we tell him is what we mean,'' Kelly said of his relationship with Golson. ''We are not going to be sending mixed messages. There's got to be a trust factor here. .... I think if you only talk to him once a week, yeah, you probably have those concerns, but we eat dinner together every day. So there's constant communication.''

Kelly also said the Theo Riddick remained the No. 1 running back and that last season's leading rusher Cierre Wood - suspended the first two games for violating team rules - would be reintegrated into the offense this week.

Notre Dame had numerous injuries during and after the game Saturday but Kelly reported that none was serious and no one ruled out of the game in East Lansing.

Kelly said safety Jamoris Slaughter (shoulder) and star tight end Tyler Eifert (suspected slight concussion) have been cleared. Defensive end Kapron Lewis-Moore, who left early with a calf strain, will start doing some work Tuesday and should be OK. Wide receiver DaVaris Daniels sprained an ankle and will be evaluated during the week.

Linebacker Ishaq Williams had an elbow contusion and star linebacker Manti Te'o a bruised sternum. Also to be checked this week is No. 1 placekicker Nick Tausch, who missed Saturday with a strained groin. Brindza, used mostly on kickoffs, filled in and kicked the first two field goals of his college career.

Tagged: Buffalo, Notre Dame, Brian Kelly, Tommy Rees

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