Chicago Colleges: Kapron Lewis-Moore

Irish lunch links

May, 20, 2014
May 20
11:00
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The Spurs will win it all this year, won't they?

Historic draft weekend for Notre Dame

May, 12, 2014
May 12
9:00
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Notre Dame walked away from NFL draft weekend with eight of its former players getting picked, tied with Alabama for the second most of any school in the country, behind LSU's nine. The eight picks also marked the most in a single draft for the Irish in 20 years, as they had 10 draftees in 1994.

In addition, six former Notre Dame players signed with NFL clubs after the draft, with five of those players coming from last season's team.

Seven of Notre Dame's defensive starters from the Discover BCS National Championship following the 2012 season have now been drafted as well: Kapron Lewis-Moore (Ravens, 200th), Manti Te'o (Chargers, 38th) and Zeke Motta (Falcons, 244th) last year; Stephon Tuitt (Steelers, 46th), Louis Nix (Texans, 83rd), Prince Shembo (Falcons, 139th) and Bennett Jackson (Giants, 187th) this year.

It's not a stretch to say that linebacker Danny Spond, who also started against Alabama in the title game, was on track to be drafted prior to retiring before last season because of hemiplegic migraines. It's also worth noting that safety Jamoris Slaughter, who was drafted 175th overall by the Browns last year, started on the Irish's 2012 defense before suffering a season-ending Achilles' tear in Week 3. Two defensive starters from that title game, KeiVarae Russell and Matthias Farley, still have two years of eligibility left at Notre Dame.

Here's a recap of Notre Dame's 2014 draft weekend. Irish transfers Shaquelle Evans (fourth round, 114th overall) and Aaron Lynch (fifth, 150th) were both drafted as well.

DRAFTED

LT Zack Martin, Dallas Cowboys (first round, 16th overall)

DE Stephon Tuitt, Pittsburgh Steelers (second, 46th)

TE Troy Niklas, Arizona Cardinals (second, 52nd)

NG Louis Nix, Houston Texans (third, 83rd)

LG Chris Watt, San Diego Chargers (third, 89th)

LB Prince Shembo, Atlanta Falcons (fourth, 139th)

CB Bennett Jackson, New York Giants (sixth, 187th)

WR TJ Jones, Detroit Lions (sixth, 189th)

UNDRAFTED FREE AGENT SIGNINGS

RB George Atkinson III, Oakland Raiders

LB Dan Fox, New York Giants

LB Carlo Calabrese, Cleveland Browns

QB Tommy Rees, Washington Redskins

NG Kona Schwenke, Kansas City Chiefs

C/G Mike Golic Jr., New Orleans Saints

What we learned: Week 13

December, 1, 2013
12/01/13
10:00
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Here is what we take away from Notre Dame's 27-20 loss at Stanford.

1. The team put up a strong fight. Losses don't feel good. And Brian Kelly is correct in saying there are no moral victories, especially at a program like Notre Dame. That said, the Irish put up a strong fight against one of the most physical teams in the country, coming a few turnovers, or red-zone opportunities, away from taking down the No. 8 team in the country on the road. Against the nation's No. 3 rushing defense (and one No. 6 in sacks), the Irish ended up playing without all three of their starting interior linemen, as left guard Chris Watt went down with a right knee injury after center Nick Martin suffered an MCL tear last week and right guard Christian Lombard was shut down last month following back surgery. I'm not sure you can really compare losses, but if you look across the last few years, this is the first one that the Irish really competed hard from start to finish and put out a respectable performance.

2. Chris Watt's injury is a shame. Kelly said that Watt's right knee injury did not look good. Few guys have given more to the program than the three-year starter at left guard, and if this affects his future it really will be a raw deal for one of the more enjoyable guys to be around on the team. This would also mark a third straight devastating injury for an outgoing Irish senior near the end of his career, as Kapron Lewis-Moore and Jonas Gray both suffered ACL tears in the BCS title game and in the 2011 Senior Day game, respectively.

3. Bowl future remains up in the air. The New Era Pinstripe Bowl looked like a lock from the minute Kansas upset West Virginia two weeks ago, freeing up the Big 12's spot in the game. Now it looks a bit more uncertain, since Kelly had said he would rely on the seniors for input, and those seniors apparently do not like cold weather. Stay tuned.

Notre Dame Fighting Irish spring wrap

May, 9, 2013
5/09/13
9:00
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2012 record: 12-1

2012 conference record: N/A

Returning starters: Offense: 6; defense: 8; kicker/punter: 1

Top returners

QB Everett Golson, WR TJ Jones, WR DaVaris Daniels, LT Zack Martin, LG Chris Watt, RT Christian Lombard, DE Stephon Tuitt, NG Louis Nix, LB Dan Fox, LB Carlo Calabrese, LB Danny Spond, LB Prince Shembo, CB Bennett Jackson, CB KeiVarae Russell, S Matthias Farley

Key losses

RB Theo Riddick, RB Cierre Wood, WR Robby Toma, TE Tyler Eifert, C Braxston Cave, RG Mike Golic Jr., DE Kapron Lewis-Moore, LB Manti Te'o, S Zeke Motta

2012 statistical leaders (*returners)

Rushing: Riddick (917 yards, 5 TDs)

Passing: Golson* (187-of-318 for 2,405 yards, 12 TDs, 6 INTs)

Receiving: Eifert (685 yards, 4 TDs)

Tackles: Te'o (113)

Sacks: Tuitt* (12)

Interceptions: Te'o (7)

Spring answers

1. Golson in charge of offense. Now in his second year as the starting quarterback, Golson is in charge of what Brian Kelly hopes will become a quarterback-driven offense. Golson has been much more vocal on and off the field since the 2012 season, and the hope is that he can help the offense dictate the pace of the game week to week this fall.

2. Jarrett Grace ready to step up. Te'o leaves a giant hole in the middle of the Irish defense after three-straight 100-plus tackle seasons, but Grace looks ready to step in and assume the starting role. Will he notch seven interceptions this season, like Te'o in 2012? Unlikely. But the staff has liked his progress from the get-go, and he has not been fazed by all of the hoopla surrounding the "Mike" position since Te'o's departure.

3. DB depth. Last season, the Irish entered the fall with two new starting cornerbacks. By Week 3, they were down Lo Wood and safety Jamoris Slaughter because of Achilles injuries. This year Wood is back, as is safety Austin Collinsworth, adding plenty of depth to a secondary that returns three starters. It will give the defense much more flexibility after the unit broke in three new starters in 2012. Several talented safety recruits are on the way, too.

Fall questions

1. Backfield answers. George Atkinson III is the most experienced of the backs, bulking up this offseason and readying for the closest thing to a No. 1 role that the Irish offense allows. Cam McDaniel has been reliable in limited action, and USC transfer Amir Carlisle impressed the staff before going down with another injury, this time a broken collarbone that kept him out for most of the spring. There is Will Mahone and a pair of four-star recruits on the way as well, but the bottom line is that none have handled a majority of the carries at the college level yet and are filling big shoes from last season in Riddick and Cierre Wood.

2. Receiver depth. Davonte Neal and Justin Ferguson transferred this spring, leaving the Irish with a bit of a numbers issue. C.J. Prosise has converted to a full-time receiver and could compete for the starting slot role for 2013, but a group already down four of its top six pass-catchers from 2012 can ill-afford another injury or defection, and will likely need some early production from a talented group of freshmen.

3. Defensive leaders. This isn't necessarily an issue so much as an unknown. Last year's three seniors were tremendous vocal presences, helping the defense become greater than the sum of its parts in finishing second nationally in scoring. This year's unit could be deeper and more talented, and if it can work together like last year's, it could see similar success in 2013. Jackson, Farley and Nix figure to emerge as front-runners for defensive captain spots this fall.

Demoralizing first half for Irish

January, 7, 2013
1/07/13
9:23
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MIAMI -- Notre Dame is down 28-0 to Alabama at halftime. The "S-E-C!" chants are out. And -- something that I find worse than anything else -- fifth-year senior captain Kapron Lewis-Moore had to be helped off the field after suffering what looked like a very painful right-knee injury.

It is ugly, and there is no sign of letting up.

Yes, possibly the worst call in national title-game history happened on the game's first punt, when Notre Dame recovered a Christion Jones fumble and the officials threw an illegal contact flag even though it was another Tide player who bumped into Jones. But there is no mistaking that Alabama is taking it right to Notre Dame, from T.J. Yeldon turning a Manti Te'o missed backfield tackle into a 10-yard gain, to Eddie Lacy tossing Danny Spond aside and getting a five-yard rush.

Notre Dame's defense was supposed to give it a chance. It surrendered just more than 10 points per game this season, the best in the nation. Instead it surrendered touchdowns on the game's first three drives, and the offense has not done much to keep it off the field.

Alabama is outgaining Notre Dame 309-124. The Tide have 153 rushing yards to the Irish's 31. They have dominated time of possession, holding it for 19 minutes, 46 seconds of the first half. They have held Notre Dame to 0-for-5 on third downs. The Irish have three penalties, too.

Notre Dame's improbable run to this night began with an unranked squad facing issues on both sides of the ball with a daunting slate ahead.

It will take something far more improbable during these next 30 minutes if the Irish wish to give themselves a chance in this Discover BCS National Championship.

Recapping the Notre Dame Awards show

December, 10, 2012
12/10/12
9:50
PM CT
Befitting a season seemingly from the past, Notre Dame made the theme for its Friday night awards banquet "The Echoes."

Seventeen "Echoes" were handed out at the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center by the entire Notre Dame staff, including the team MVP echo to Manti Te'o, who accepted the award live via satellite from atop 30 Rock in New York. Te'o was for the Heisman Trophy presentation the following night.

The highlights of the night: Matthias Farley's bowtie, Theo Riddick's Armani belt and Louis Nix's brief acceptance speech: "I'd like to thank my mom. She had a beautiful son and he's here today." The senior parents' video was a hit for the second straight year as well.

Here's a list of the night's winners:

Offensive scout team player of the year, presented by offensive GA Bill Brechin
Winner: Nick Fitzpatrick (also nominated: Bruce Heggie, William Mahone)

Defensive scout team player of the year, presented by defensive GA Josh Reardon
Winner: Tyler Stockton (also nominated: Joe Romano, Joe Schmidt)

Offensive newcomer of the year, presented by offensive coordinator Chuck Martin
Winner: Everett Golson (also nominated: DaVaris Daniels, Christian Lombard, Troy Niklas)

Defensive newcomer of the year, presented by co-defensive coordinator Kerry Cooks
Winner: KeiVarae Russell (also nominated: Sheldon Day, Matthias Farley, Danny Spond)

Irish Around the Bend award (community service), presented by director of player development and engagement Ernest Jones
Winner: Mike Golic Jr.

A-Team award (accountability, appreciation, achievement), presented by defensive line coach Mike Elston
Winner: Kapron Lewis-Moore

Count On Me award (reliable, unselfish), presented by running backs/slot receivers coach Tony Alford
Winner: Theo Riddick

Father Lange Iron Cross award, presented by strength and conditioning director Paul Longo
Winner: Braxston Cave

Special teams award, presented by tight ends coach/special teams coordinator Scott Booker
Winner: Kyle Brindza

Pietrosante award (courage, loyalty, teamwork, dedication, pride), presented by outside receivers coach Mike Denbrock
Winner: John Goodman, Robby Toma

Moose Krause defensive lineman of the year, presented by assistant head coach/co-defensive coordinator Bob Diaco
Winner: Louis Nix and Stephon Tuitt

Offensive lineman of the year, presented by offensive line coach Harry Hiestand
Winner: Zack Martin

Rockne Student-Athlete award, presented by safeties coach Bob Elliott
Winner: Danny Spond

Next Man In award, presented by head coach Brian Kelly
Winner: Tommy Rees

Offensive player of the year, presented by Kelly
Winner: Tyler Eifert

Defensive player of the year, presented by Kelly
Winner: Zeke Motta

MVP, presented by Kelly
Winner: Manti Te'o

Notre Dame helmet stickers

November, 25, 2012
11/25/12
9:00
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Notre Dame is title-game bound. Here's who helped the Irish get over one last regular-season hump Saturday night in its 22-13 win at USC.

Everett Golson, QB: Former Notre Dame scribe Douglas Farmer made a pretty good point on Twitter after the game: Three more years of Golson/Max Wittek matchups could be a win for everyone. Tough to replicate what Golson did on Saturday's stage, completing 15 of 26 passes for 217 yards, rushing for 47 yards and avoiding any big mistakes. He played in character, setting the tone for the rest of the team in the win.

Theo Riddick, RB: The recipient of the game ball was tough to bring down all night, carrying it 20 times for 146 yards and a touchdown, while adding three catches for 33 yards.

Manti Te'o, LB: One more interception for Te'o, his seventh of the season, this one, at the very least, punching his ticket to New York.

Kapron Lewis-Moore, DE: Another defensive captain, this one saving his best for last. The fifth-year senior had five tackles, two tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, one forced fumble and was instrumental in another big goal-line stand late for the Irish.

Irish stay perfect, turn attention to USC

November, 17, 2012
11/17/12
10:59
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- With Notre Dame's 38-0 win over Wake Forest all wrapped up, the stands still full before the alma mater and everyone soaking in one last moment inside the building where the Irish went undefeated for the first time in 14 years, public address announcer Mike Collins went over the postgame itinerary for the final time this season:

Drive home safely, he said.

Thank your ushers, he recommended.

"And BEAT S-C!" he implored, drawing the biggest roar of the night.

Yes, it comes down to this for these Irish: beat the rival Trojans two days after Thanksgiving and lock up the first perfect Notre Dame regular season in 24 years.

[+] EnlargeKapron Lewis-Moore
Jonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesKapron Lewis-Moore's final regular-season game comes next week against USC.
"Definitely," receiver John Goodman said when asked if next week's opponent is fitting. "They're definitely a potent offense and pretty good defense, and that's something that we're going to have to game plan for. We're going to celebrate this win and take it all in with our families and everything, and then we're going to be fully focused on them, because one more game and things are going to work itself out."

The Irish don't control where they'll end up in the BCS standings. They need Kansas State or Oregon to fall to gain a national title berth. But a player like Goodman knows just how shocking it is to think that USC stands in Notre Dame's way next week, not the other way around.

Goodman came to Notre Dame in 2008, one year after a program-worst 3-9 season. USC had won the Rose Bowl in 2007, and the Trojans won it again during Goodman's first college season.

Both programs underwent coaching changes following the 2009 campaign, but USC seemed to weather NCAA sanctions, winning 10 games last season -- one of those wins coming at Notre Dame Stadium -- and entering this fall as the preseason's No. 1 team.

So yes, many figured next Saturday in Los Angeles could be where a national title ticket gets punched; few thought the visitors would be the ones with that opportunity.

"It's easier now because we have one game left," coach Brian Kelly said of avoiding big-picture talk. "So for us, the focus and all of those things, not looking ahead, we don't have to worry about that anymore. We have one game left on our schedule. Our guys know what's at stake now. This is about an undefeated season. They cannot do anything else but beat USC. The rest is up to other people to decide. But they can clearly focus.

"I told them tonight I'm proud of them. I voted them No. 1 in the country for a reason, because I think they're the best team in the country, and I think they played like that tonight."

For once at home, they did. The Irish scored on their first three possessions, jumping to a 21-0 lead just more than 10 minutes into the contest, a feat more noteworthy when considering that they had not scored more than 20 points in regulation in any of their five previous home games.

They had won those five contests by a combined 23 points, needing four total overtime periods to come away with the victories. This one was 31-0 at halftime, the final 30 minutes a mere formality. Everett Golson earned a seat for much of the second half after a 346-yard, three-touchdown performance.

Kelly took the circumstances to send some of his seniors out on a high, calling a timeout before Wake Forest took over at the 13:27 mark.

In came Sheldon Day, Chris Salvi and Ben Councell -- replacing Kapron Lewis-Moore, Zeke Motta and Manti Te'o.

Naturally, Te'o received the biggest ovation, taking his helmet off, blowing kisses to the student section and chest-bumping Lewis-Moore as he reached the sideline.

"Just magic," Te'o said. "Like everything's come full circle, just very grateful. For Coach to do that; he could have easily taken us out and not even put us on the field. But it was a TV timeout, and he said I'm going to send you guys out there and then I'm going to call a timeout, and one by one I'm going to sub you guys out. So that's the type of coach that Coach Kelly is. I'm just very lucky to play for him."

Te'o was all but USC-bound in high school, stunning all with his last-minute pick of the Irish. He will get to play his final regular-season college game at the Los Angeles Coliseum with perfection on the line, and the irony will be thicker than the stack of leis draped around his neck after the game.

All that stands between these Irish and perfection are the Trojans, all their energies and emotions pitted toward one goal: Beat SC.

"There is no next week," Te'o said. "It's USC. There is no game after that. If we take care of USC, we'll be fine. All we have to do is take care of USC and prepare the right way. USC is a really good team, as we all know. The USC-Notre Dame game is always a battle. So we understand that and we're going to prepare the way we know how."

Who will transform tomorrow?

November, 16, 2012
11/16/12
7:10
PM CT
My pick for who will transform tomorrow is Kapron Lewis-Moore.

He has been through this routine before, taking part in senior day festivities last season before being invited back for a fifth season. So he will probably be among the least-affected of the group in the early stages, when Notre Dame has had more than enough trouble getting off to hot home starts.

Lewis-Moore was the forgotten man for much of the offseason, thanks to a season-ending knee injury and the emergence of Aaron Lynch in his place, which would have created the odd circumstance of having a returning three-year starter without a starting spot.

Well, Lynch transferred. And the Notre Dame defensive line has not missed a beat.

Stephon Tuitt has the big numbers (11 sacks) and Louis Nix has the big name (Irish Chocolate), but Lewis-Moore has been the steadiest of the bunch, serving as one of two defensive captains and always keeping things light off the field.

"He has great energy, a positive energy," Manti Te'o said. "Kap is always positive and working hard. Old man Kap. He's beaten down sometimes, but he always seems it smile and try to uplift our team. Our team is better because Kap is the captain. I'm grateful that I have him by my side as the defensive captain. It makes my job easier, and hopefully I make his job a lot easier too.

"But to have Kap on the Dline and really be that anchor and such a powerful force definitely has made our defense better and has made my job a lot easier."

Lewis-Moore has 5.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks and seven quarterback hurries on the season, and he will have a great chance to build off that against a Wake Forest offensive line that has struggled throughout this rebuilding season.

Expect Tanner Price to look the way many visiting quarterbacks have this season at Notre Dame Stadium, with Lewis-Moore disrupting the trip for the Demon Deacons signal caller as much as anyone.

Video: Notre Dame's Kapron Lewis-Moore

October, 28, 2012
10/28/12
12:24
AM CT

Ivan Maisel talks with Notre Dame defensive end Kapron Lewis-Moore following the Irish’s win over Oklahoma.

Video: Notre Dame DE Kapron Lewis-Moore

October, 5, 2012
10/05/12
5:00
PM CT


The fifth-year captain talks about the Irish's fast start and renewing their rivalry with Miami.

What we learned about Notre Dame: Week 2

September, 9, 2012
9/09/12
10:00
AM CT
1. The QB position is, um, interesting. Well, that's one way to put it. Brian Kelly says there's no controversy, and that Everett Golson is his starter. Golson played well before Tyler Eifert (concussion) went down, but in the game's biggest moment -- when Kelly himself said that Golson probably was healthy enough to play -- he went with Tommy Rees, who ultimately delivered. The Irish escaped 2-0, and that will, in some way, validate the move. But does Golson need to look over his shoulder now? Things will only get more difficult at Michigan State, a tough environment that will also mark his first legitimate road test.

[+] EnlargeBrian Kelly
Jonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesBrian Kelly has led the Irish to a 2-0 mark for the first time since 2008.
2. Players must get healthy. Notre Dame suffered a number of injuries Saturday that severely hampered it. Kelly said after the game that he thought none would require surgery or have any long-term effects. The wounded include: Kapron Lewis-Moore (calf strain), Jamoris Slaughter (shoulder), Eifert (concussion), DaVaris Daniels (ankle sprain), Ishaq Williams (elbow) and Sheldon Day (dehydration). Kicker Nick Tausch also hurt his groin earlier in the week, forcing Kyle Brindza in.

3. The O-line has some work to do. We knew the ground game wouldn't take off like it did in rushing for 293 yards against Navy. But few saw the Irish's front having so much trouble with Purdue's talented defensive line. Notre Dame rushed for 52 yards Saturday as a team, and Golson was on the ground early and often (five sacks). What was believed to be the team's biggest strength now prepares this week for Michigan State's tough defensive unit.

4. ND is 2-0 for the first time since 2008. This category counts, right? Rees' biggest completion, a 10-yard third-and-6 throw to John Goodman, may have come with no time left on the play clock. And Purdue insisted on playing two quarterbacks, when one (Robert Marve) looked better than the other (Caleb TerBush) for much of the day. But the Irish weathered the storm of multiple injuries to key players and, when it mattered most, took care of business. How they did it, and what's in store next, is anyone's guess.

Notre Dame helmet stickers: Week 2

September, 9, 2012
9/09/12
9:00
AM CT
Here's who stood out in the Irish's 20-17 victory Saturday over Purdue:

Everett Golson. Be it by design or opportunity, the training wheels came off for Golson. And, for the most part, the newcomer delivered. Absorbing five sacks and countless other big hits from the Boilermakers' line, Golson completed 21 of 31 passes for 289 yards, recording both a passing and a rushing touchdown while not throwing any interceptions. Of course, his fumble could not have come at a worst time, but he had a very impressive day.

Tommy Rees. Yes, he was just 3-for-8 for 35 yards (with two of those incompletions coming off spikes.) But to step in suddenly and deliver during the game's biggest moment after essentially one week of reps since the spring? It says a lot about Rees, who validated all of the preseason words of praise coaches and teammates showered him with. It's hard to imagine many college quarterbacks responding the way Rees did Saturday.

Tyler Eifert. Eifert had four catches for 98 yards before leaving in the second half with what coach Brian Kelly said he thinks is a concussion. The tight end was impossible to cover Saturday, and the senior certainly looked like a future pro against a very good Purdue defense.

Manti Te'o. Ten tackles and a hurry for the senior, who lost his cool a bit during an unnecessary roughness penalty on a punt but was instrumental in the defense holding Purdue to just 90 yards rushing.

Stephon Tuitt. Two more sacks for the monster end, one of which was made with one arm. That's four on the season, which is only two weeks old. He added two hurries, too. Mel Kiper might be onto something.

Louis Nix. The big fella in the middle recorded 1.5 sacks and tipped two passes at the line of scrimmage. With a bigger onus on both Nix and Tuitt with Kapron Lewis-Moore (calf strain) and Sheldon Day (dehydration) leaving early, the second-year players delivered.

Kyle Brindza. It's easy to forget that Brindza had never started as a field-goal kicker before, since he handled kickoffs last season. But a late-week groin injury to Nick Tausch forced Brindza in, and he delivered, going 2-for-3 and giving the Irish the win with his 27-yard strike with seven seconds remaining.

Rees leads Irish to win in relief effort

September, 8, 2012
9/08/12
10:12
PM CT
video
SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- On Thursday, Notre Dame launched its Take a StaND campaign, an initiative geared toward getting the crowd more involved in the game. Coach Brian Kelly had his team practice inside Notre Dame Stadium that day in order to take away some of the awe factor that comes with entering a building just seven times a year.

Music was piped in throughout Saturday's home opener against Purdue, with Irish defensive players regularly imploring the crowd to add to the noise on key third-down plays. Then, at the 2:12 mark in the fourth quarter of a tied game, the stadium's public address announcer offered a familiar phrase:

"Tommy Rees now at quarterback for Notre Dame."

Either out of disgust with another possible quarterback controversy or frustration from seeing a man who turned the ball over 19 times last year enter the game on its most crucial drive, a number of fans from the student section started booing the former starting signal-caller.

Whether Rees can ever regain his No. 1 throne remains to be seen, but he made as strong a case as he possibly could in his return from suspension, directing Notre Dame on a 12-play, 55-yard drive in just over two minutes, setting up Kyle Brindza for a 27-yard field goal with seven seconds remaining to beat Purdue 20-17.

"The story finishes with Tommy Rees coming in for [Everett] Golson and leading us on a two-minute drive to win the game," Kelly said. "I'm good to go. A good day for Notre Dame football."

But, Kelly said, the Irish do not have a quarterback controversy.

[+] EnlargeTommy Rees
Matt Cashore/US PresswireThe Irish turned to Tommy Rees to lead the game-winning drive, but coach Brian Kelly insists there's no QB controversy in South Bend.
"Everett Golson is our starter," the third-year Irish coach said. "He will start against Michigan State. But we know that we've got assets at that position with Andrew Hendrix and Tommy Rees."

Maybe even better ones than they thought. Rees entered 2012 as the only one of the team's four scholarship quarterbacks with any starting experience, going 12-4 the past two years. He severely handicapped his chances at remaining the starter when he was arrested this spring at an off-campus party, forcing him to watch last week's tilt in Dublin from home.

But when Notre Dame needed someone to engineer a scoring drive after Purdue converted a fourth-down scoring chance to even things up, the Irish turned to their veteran.

Golson, who was given much more freedom in career start No. 2, was having a strong game before his final drive, completing 21 of 31 passes for 289 yards, one touchdown and zero interceptions. He was sacked five times and hit countless others, bouncing back each time. But on what would be his last play of the game, the redshirt freshman had the ball pried loose by Purdue's Josh Johnson, setting the Boilermakers up at the Irish 15 with less than four minutes to go.

Kelly said Golson had trouble gripping the ball and probably could have played, but the coach felt more comfortable with the experienced Rees in the two-minute drill, a move few saw coming.

With zero timeouts at his disposal, Rees tossed three completions for 35 yards, including a huge 10-yard strike to John Goodman on third-and-6. He took the Irish to the 8, spiking it twice and taking a knee before setting up Brindza's game-winning kick.

Coaches and players raved about Rees' demeanor throughout camp, the aspiring coach doing everything he can to help his competitors while knowing his opportunity was dwindling. Rees backed up those claims Saturday, absorbing the boos from his fellow students after entering and some more after his first misfire.

Rees, along with everyone other than Zack Martin and Manti Te'o, was not made available to speak after the game.

"I don't agree with that at all," Martin said of the booing. "A guy like Tommy, it just fuels his fire. He's been through a lot. I'm so proud of him and so happy for him that he was able to answer the bell today and lead us down the field."

"Everett didn't get, like, booted from the game," Martin later added. "He played a great game. I think it was just situation, two-minute drill. Tommy's more of a pocket passer. So I think it's kind of one of those things. Everyone has a 100 percent confidence in Everett and what he does on the field. We're ready to go with him next week."

So here come the Irish, riding a 2-0 start for the first time in four years, marching into East Lansing with a chance to pull off their first upset. Michigan State has a defensive line every bit as lethal as Purdue's, and all the Boilermakers did was hold the Irish to 52 rushing yards one week after Notre Dame racked up 293 against Navy.

And here comes Golson, whose last play under center was his worst, going into his third game still holding the title of starting quarterback.

The competition gets tougher from Week 3 on, but the drama may already be ahead of schedule for the Irish.

Best of Notre Dame's spring

May, 10, 2012
5/10/12
10:30
AM CT
Best spring game performance: Everett Golson, considered the biggest mystery in the four-man quarterback battle entering the spring, was 11 of 15 for 120 yards and two scores. He carried it six times for 25 yards. Most importantly, he was the only quarterback to not turn the ball over.

Best overall unit: The running back/slot receiver group coached by Tony Alford is loaded with talent. Theo Riddick and George Atkinson III made big play after big play in the spring game (though Atkinson will have to protect the ball better after fumbling twice). We all know what Cierre Wood is capable of after a 1,000-yard season while splitting carries with Jonas Gray in 2011. And we might even see a bit of Robby Toma in the backfield, though the senior remains an invaluable pass-catcher for the Irish.

Best position battle: Other than under center? Let's go with the right side of the offensive line, where Mike Golic Jr., Nick Martin and Christian Lombard look to have the inside track for the two open spots.

Biggest surprise (good): John Goodman raised some eyebrows with his play this spring, earning most improved player on the offensive side of the ball and getting to be a captain for the spring game. Coach Brian Kelly said he's been the go-to receiver this spring, and Goodman wants to reward the staff's faith in him after he was invited back for a fifth year.

Biggest surprise (bad): Aaron Lynch has transferred to South Florida, leaving the Irish down a man on the defensive line. Kapron Lewis-Moore, a previous starter, will slide back into Lynch's role, but the loss of an elite pass-rusher who had no trouble bursting onto the scene as a freshman is a blow to the team.

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