Everett Golson Named Notre Dame’s Starting QB, Again

Everett Golson - 2014
Everett Golson was officially named the starting quarterback for the 2014 season for Notre Dame on Wednesday. (Photo: Robin Alam / Icon SMI)

Consider Everett Golson two for two in quarterback competitions during his last two fall camps, that is of course you think there was a quarterback competition this fall camp.  Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly named Golson the winner of the quarterback competition he swore was underway but few felt wouldn’t end with Golson the winner.

“Everett Golson will be our starter against Rice,” Brian Kelly said on Wednesday.  The reason for Kelly ending the “competition” just days after saying it was too early to tell was Golson’s work from the time he was reinstated in December through the first week and a half of camp.

“I’m using from January through right now as the basis of that decision.  So winter workouts, how he handled himself with the team, our workouts, his leadership in the spring, his spring practice and then his leadership in the summer, and then camp here, I think he’s put himself in a position to get that opportunity to be our starter against Rice,” Kelly said.

Throughout the spring and the first week and of fall camp, Kelly maintained that there was a competition for the quarterback spot but it was more than widely speculated that the position was more than Golson’s to lose.  On Wednesday though, Kelly claimed there was indeed a competition up until he decided last night that Golson was his guy.

“There was competition up until I made the decision and there will continue to be competition,” Kelly said.  “Everett’s the starter for Rice, and we hope he’s the starter for the entire year.  But just like I tell them, we’re all in this in a merit‑based kind of situation.  We’ve got to win, and Everett knows that,” he added.

This is the second time Everett Golson has won a quarterback competition during a fall camp at Notre Dame with the first being two years ago when he edged out Tommy Rees for the starting gig prior to the 2012 season.  The similarities, however, end there for Golson.

Tommy needed to check a lot of plays.  As I said before, we don’t have to block that end for Everett every play.  We had to for Tommy.  He wasn’t going to make the end miss.  Everett doesn’t have to check every play, and every pressure.  So it’s a little bit of a different offense with Everett back there.

“Overall understanding of the entire offense, the entirety.  Not singular plays, but the entire offense and how the offense operates,” Kelly said when asked about the differences between 2012 and 2014 for Golson.  “I think that was more of the bigger picture, understanding the bigger picture and his leadership and his ability to lead, those two things,” he added.

Two years ago, Notre Dame also needed two different sets of plays for its quarterbacks given Golson and Rees’s vastly different skillsets and understandings of the offense.  “There was a lot of ground to make up there,” said Kelly on Wednesday.  “Tommy had a superior knowledge base, but now he’s at a point where he is now in an area where he can run our offense and run it effectively.”

Two years later, Golson has a much better understanding of the offense – even with a year away from the program.  Add in Golson’s athletic ability on top of that understanding of the offense and you have a potentially very dangerous quarterback.  “Everett possesses some of the other skillsets, but he has got a very good understanding of what we’re doing offensively,” Kelly said Wednesday.

Unlike two years ago and really unlike the last four seasons, there also isn’t a different offense for the backup quarterback, Malik Zaire.  “There is no package.  He can run our on entire offense,” Kelly said of his backup.  “That is the difference here.  We’re not in the wildcat package.  We’re not in a separate package that we’ve had over the last four years.  He’s going to run our entire offense,” Kelly added.

While Kelly feels confident that Zaire could run the entire offense, he doesn’t intend to use multiple quarterbacks as he’s done in the past.

“I’m confident, knock on wood, I hope it doesn’t happen, but if Malik goes in there, he can run our offense and we can win with Malik running our offense,” said Kelly before adding, “Everett would play unless he was injured and couldn’t answer the bell, so we’re not looking to play two quarterbacks.  We’ve got one starter.”

That doesn’t mean, however, Kelly isn’t hoping to get a chance to see his sophomore quarterback at some time – when the Irish have a more than comfortable lead late in a game.  “That would be my ideal circumstance,” Kelly said.  “Win big and get him in.”

While Wednesday’s news is not really news to anyone who has been really following the situation – Golson’s been getting most if not all of the first team reps all camp long – it’s good for an offense that will need to live up to the building hype to have their leader named more than two weeks out from the season opener.   Golson can now start to get a larger share of the reps in practice as the named starter and continue to build rapport with the young wide receivers who weren’t on the roster the last time he took a live snap in a game for the Fighting Irish.

The last time Golson won the starting quarterback position for Notre Dame, he had a tough time holding on to it.  By the second week of the season he was pulled in favor of Rees for a game winning two minute drill and by the third week he was relieved by Rees again after a terrible start against Michigan.

Kelly is expecting much more of Golson this time around and with a quarterback behind him that can run the same offense we know he won’t be afraid to play him if he has to.  For Notre Dame’s sake, hopefully that does not happen.  Hopefully Zaire only gets into the game in the ideal situation Kelly described on Wednesday – a big Notre Dame lead late in the game.




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One Comment

  1. An occasional series for the back-up QB, especially running the same offense but being a lefty,
    would just give the other team more to prepare for.
    Northwestern ran a 2 QB offense last year until one of their QBs got injured,
    and other teams have done that as well.
    If injury strikes, both QBs have had legitimate game time experience.
    Then you wouldn’t have “baptism by fire” like Hendrix entering the SC game lat year.
    But that’s not what BK wants- and he’s the head coach and at practice every day, so he should know.

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