The worst off-season in recent Notre Dame history reached it’s summit exactly one year ago today. Late Saturday night of Memorial Day weekend 2013 news began to broke that Everett Golson, fresh off a national championship game appearance where he was one of the few bright spots for the Irish, was no longer enrolled at Notre Dame and he would not be a member of the 2013 Fighting Irish.
I still remember getting the text messages as the news broke and immediately thinking, “well, there goes that second title run. We’re looking at 9 wins, maybe 10 if we’re lucky.” Unfortunately that turned out to be just about what we got from Notre Dame in 2013. The Irish won 9 games but were in position to and should have won more.
The loss of Golson in 2013 ended up costing Notre Dame more than just a couple of wins though. As Notre Dame charged to the 2012 title game, they also charged towards Signing Day ’13 and ended up bringing home a top 5 class even after the blowout at the hands of Alabama.
As Notre Dame struggled in 2013 with early season losses to Michigan and Oklahoma taking them out of any title game talk before the end of September, the Irish also lost momentum on the recruiting trail. In 2013, Notre Dame signed the #3 recruiting class in the country according to Rivals. A year later, the Irish fell to #11 in their rankings.
Would Notre Dame have been able to improve on that #11 ranking with a few more wins and bowl game a little more exciting than one that kicked off at noon on December 28th against team that had just fired both of it’s coordinators? Probably. Would having Golson under center throughout the season have given the Irish those a couple more wins? Very likely.
A year later, Golson is back at Notre Dame and still looking to lock down the starting quarterback position that he had finally gained a stranglehold of by the end of 2012 after Brian Kelly was quick to give him the hook early in the season.
While Golson can’t do anything about the opportunity lost for both himself and Notre Dame in 2013, he has a golden opportunity in front of him to take the Irish back to where they were the last time he wore a Notre Dame jersey in a game against someone other than his own teammates.
Notre Dame has the weapons at running back, wide receiver, and tight end combined with a deep and talented offensive line to make for an explosive offense as long as they have a quarterback capable of orchestrating the kind of high-powered attack Notre Dame has been lacking. If Golson can play this fall like he did the last time he wore a Notre Dame jersey against a live opponent – the BCS Title game – he can be that quarterback for the Notre Dame.
The last time we saw Everett Golson
One of the lost storylines from the BCS Championship disaster was that Golson was one of the few players on the field in Miami that looked like he belonged on the same field as Alabama. He wasn’t perfect, but against the best defense he had ever played against in his entire career, he had one of his better games. The same kid who got pulled against Purdue in the second game of the season threw for 270 yards and completed nearly 60% of his passes while accounting for both of Notre Dame’s touchdowns – one running and one passing.
The outside world is recognizing that Golson has the kind of potential necessary to run Brian Kelly’s offense like no other signal caller has during his time at Notre Dame. Golson is already being mentioned as a dark horse candidate for the Heisman Trophy and Vegas setting his odds at 25:1 already.
As we saw in the spring though, Golson is still shaking off the rust from being away from the program for a year even though he did spend his time in exile working with renowned quarterback guru George Whitfield. Golson has Malik Zaire hot on his trails and while it would be a major upset if Golson was not the starting quarterback on August 31, it would also not be the biggest shock in the world if he wasn’t after Zaire’s eye opening spring performance.
What a difference a year makes
Golson’s dismissal last year left Notre Dame with a decimated depth chart at quarterback after the Irish had lost Gunner Kiel before spring practice. A year though, Notre Dame is looking at a depth chart at quarterback that very well could be the deepest and most talented since Brian Kelly’s arrival. More importantly though, that depth chart will feature three similarly skilled quarterbacks for the first time under Kelly.
At many times throughout the tenure of Brian Kelly, the Irish offense has had quarterbacks with different skillsets that were not all able to running his full playbook. Tommy Rees, for instance, was not able to run any of the designed quarterback runs that were very successful for Everett Golson in 2012 and successful to a lesser extent for Dayne Crist at times in 2010 and 2011 even though Rees did surprise Michigan in 2012 with a quarterback sneak for a touchdown.
With Golson and Zaire at the top of the Notre Dame depth chart and incoming freshman DeShone Kizer physically capable of running the full playoff, Brian Kelly could open up his offense for the first time since his arrival. Even in 2012 when Golson was in the game and physically able to execute the full offense, he didn’t have the complete grasp of it that Rees had to really open up the offense.
Nothing is going to get the time back that Golson lost last year, but a year after learning that he wouldn’t be joining his teammates for the 2013 season, he finds himself with another golden opportunity staring him in the face. What he does with that opportunity will determine whether or not the Irish will be preparing for January football or if their season will end before the ball drops for the second season in a row.
Golson or Zaire? It doesnt really matter if the Defense cant improve from last year.
Not to mention that Kevin Hogan is the Stanford quarterback because Notre Dame had no room for another QB. So far he has beat us only one time (he wasn’t QB when we sneaked by Stanford in 2012. There is no telling how far ND would have gone with Hogan in 2013!
Please give ‘it” a REST!! Yes that’s right when I said “it” meaning the past. Everret’s past. This young man has already paid his consequences, made sincere and forthright amends and has the press recalling over and over again what happened. For one I now respect Everett and how he has handled adversity, coming back to ND where he wants to be, and where he is committed to academics first. Leave the kid alone and move on for crying out loud!!
Class 1967 Rob Z
I believe that a student athlete is remembered in todays climate ultimately on their performance under pressure & their discipline record combined.
Zaire is “better in games” ?
Zaire hasn’t played in any games, (the Blue and Gold is a scrimmage),
and Golson is 12-1 during the season he played in games,
starting almost all of them.
That Everett didn’t finish a couple games doesn’t mean ND would’ve lost had he finished them.
In his only loss, against the national champs, he was one of the few bright spots.
I’ll leave who starts to the coaches who are at the practices.
For the first time since he arrived, Kelly will have three QBs capable of running his offense.
Shouldn’t we wait and see how that works out before leaping in despair into
the “fever swamp” in which some of our posters wallow?
St.Michael – I’m with you 100% Leave who starts to the coaches. They know more than us. They see their games different than we see ours. (and they are the ones playing)
Defense not TR was the primary reason ND failed to win as many games last year and many games because of the porous defense could have easily been lost. If the other team doesn’t score, you could win but you won’t lose.
ND’s defense will determine what happens this season, so hopefully, a more aggressive attacking defense will create turmoil for our opponents and force mistakes or turnovers with excellent field position.
If both QB’s have the same strength’s, I would utilize them both, especially on third downs and move the ball at once, run or pass from scrimmage or slot to the other QB so he could run or pass downfield. That creates big challenges for the defense.
Some people apparently didn’t watch the 2012 season. I wasn’t a Golson fan going into it but certainly was coming out of it. EG is a QB who plays his best in the big games. Them kind are hard to find.
I once knew an Al from Texas, is that you?
“I once knew an Al from Texas…
Who it’s said won the battle of the sexes…
While no longer living large on the plain…
And a divorce that drove him insane…
He did manage to keep the Red Lexus”
Kelly is still pointing out that Golson is better in practice and Zaire is better in games. Which outcome is the primary objective? My feeling under Kelly’s tenure about pass offense remains the same. Are the pass patterns designed to advance the football or just to retain possession? Throwing into the dirt, throwing dinky swing passes, and throwing jump balls to receivers seems to support possession football. All good, but all predictable. Third and seven=a 5 yard hook into the dirt=punt. If a hook is a certain possession, why not hook beyond the first down marker, for pete sake? Whoever the quarterback is, is one thing. Whoever is designing the pass plays is another.
It would seem that the player talent is there. Open it up and let the talent evolve. If Golson can’t do it in the game, then maybe next man in is the game player, and Kelly touts Zaire as the guy. It’s all about winning or losing, and sometimes it’s a gamble. I’d prefer watching gambling to win verses gambling not to lose.
Let’s see: Zaire seems clearly to be the better QB in games (Kelly acknowledged that); Zaire is a better runner, is smarter, is a more effective decision-maker, is charismatic and is a better leader of the team. Oh, yes, Zaire was substantially higher-rated coming out of high school and was much better at the Elite 11 (Golson didn’t make the top 11 even in a year with a small Elite 11 group).
The one thing we heard Golson learned in his year away — to grip the ball by the laces when he passes — LaFleur said he failed to do under the stress of actual practices this Spring.
This seems to be a case of whether to believe our lying eyes or go with Golson’s hype.
Coach Kelly is the one who has the golden opportunity here — the opportunity to choose the better quarterback as his starter. Sure, Golson played two years ago . Not counting his nervous breakdown against Michigan and his yips in the fourth quarter against Purdue, his performance overall was was a little better than average for a quarterback at this level. Maybe it was a little better than that if we don’t count the fact that he didn’t know the whole playbook, couldn’t recognize defenses and wasn’t allowed to change a play at the line of scrimmage.
Nevertheless, Kelly has a lot of time and effort invested in Golson; Everett has played in some big games on the road; and it would be a daring move to start Zaire just because he appears to be the better quarterback. So let’s hope Golson raises the level of his play. Better or not, he’ll be our quarterback this season.
Ditto to the complete comment! Golson has potential but Zaire has even better potential.
Let us hope Zaire has the tenacity and professionalism to be at his top form even as a backup. That is what Steve Young did as Montana’s backup, and he was PERFECT every time his number was called.
I like your 2d-to-last sentence. I was going to take-you-on as just another WHINER (when ND is all about WINNERS) you rescued yourself. You are not a little b*tch. That being said, I’ll concur with your final thoughts. Let’s hope, yes, but expecting is more the mojo to light a fire under his a**.