(Notre Dame Athletics)
Despite suffering a thumb injury in last Saturday's win vs. Purdue, Notre Dame sophomore quarterback Everett Golson is expected to start Saturday at Michigan State.
Golson injured his hand on a fumble late in Notre Dame's 20-17 victory over its in-state rivals.
Junior quarterback Tommy Rees relieved an injured Golson and led the Irish on a 12-play, 55-yard, game-winning drive. It was capped with a 27-yard field goal by Kyle Brindza. Golson was efficient and decisive in finishing 21 of 31 for 289 yards and a touchdown.
Eventually, coach Brian Kelly hopes Golson becomes more automatic with his play-calling. Last season, Kelly employed a fast-paced concept known as “call it and haul it,” which gave opposing defenses little time to react after a play was called. Golson is coming off just his second career start.
“It's a process to integrate all those things as he develops as a quarterback,” Kelly said. “Ideally you would like to get up there, just call it and run it. They presented some unique challenges to us in terms of their front looks; we didn't want to run certain plays because of the circumstances of the game.”
Notre Dame allowed five sacks for 40 yards in the win. The Irish will face a Michigan State team that's recorded one sack in two games. Kelly has been impressed with Golson's ability to change his protections.
“In the first half, he had one protection check that was wrong and one running play that he should have changed,” Kelly said. “It was just some very subtle changes into their fronts. They were in a 5-2 and then merged to a 3-4. They looked very similar, yet they influenced the play quite a bit.”
Wood set to return: Senior running back Cierre Wood is expected to return to the lineup against the Spartans. Wood was suspended for Notre Dame's first two games for violating team rules. In Wood's absence, the Irish averaged 172.5 yards per game. Notre Dame is ranked 57th in FBS in rushing offense. Wood rushed for 1,102 yards and nine touchdowns in 2011. “We want to get him on the field and get him involved,” Kelly said.
Eifert and Slaughter cleared: Mackey Award nominee Tyler Eifert has been cleared to return to practice after suffering concussion-like symptoms vs. the Boilermakers. The senior tight end had four catches for 98 yards in Saturday's home-opener. Eifert suffered the head injury late in the second half. Safety Jamoris Slaughter (shoulder) was also cleared by team doctors. Defensive end Kapron Lewis-Moore (calf), linebackers Manti Te'o (sternum) and Ishaq Williams (elbow) and wide receiver DaVaris Daniels (ankle) will be evaluated during the week, Kelly said.
For more up-to-the-minute news and analysis on Notre Dame football, follow bloggers Evan Hilbert and Matt Rybaltowski @CBSBigEast.