For the most part, most fans would agree there has been a resurgence for the Fighting Irish under coach Brian Kelly. It’s not always been smooth, and there have been ups and downs. But considering how the post-Holtz era had gone, it’s been the better of times.
Now, with the return of Everett Golson following his academic faux pas, Kelly has somewhat of a perfect storm brewing in South Bend under center. And many would agree that this is where is all begins. The quarterback position in college football.
And this isn’t simply about Golson’s return. Although there is a lot to be said of it. You have a quarterback with a season of experience, one that saw him lead the Irish to a BCS Championship game. And now, a bit of life experience. Being humbled by his poor decision choices academically, and having to redeem himself to his coaches.
Kelly rarely hands the keys to just one quarterback, and this was only going to be more of a difficult position for one reason.
Zaire is talented, and he is confident. He has in a non-combative manner said he believes he will start for the Irish on opening day. There is nothing wrong with that. Golson has to earn his job back the same manner Zaire has to earn it now. Two athletic, confident quarterbacks with similar skill sets, believing they should start? I’ll take that all day long.
Coach Kelly, over the last two seasons was working to have the bigger, stronger team, following somewhat the blueprint of Alabama and other SEC teams have been using. Big, strong offensive line, power football. The problem with that was that’s not who Brian Kelly is. And it’s not who he needs to be.
Since the days he coached at Grand Valley State, near where I grew up, through Central Michigan, and then Cincinnati, Kelly spread the ball and scored points. It’s part of the reason he was hired. And if it’s not broke, don’t fix it.
Kelly was able to do this at schools that don’t have near the recruiting power Notre Dame has. So Kelly is ready to shift gears back to what he knows, back to what got him here.
The departure of Bob Diaco was a tough loss, but one we knew would come. He’s a talented coach and it was just a matter of when, not if.
This year Kelly is taking the reigns back of the playcalling. This is only part of the equation that I believe will lead to success. The other is the personnel in Golson and Zaire.
Now, I thought Tommy Rees did an admirable job. Granted when he went wrong, it was in the worst way at the worst time. But Kelly always had to have different packages for his quarterbacks, including Andrew Hendrix.
Now with these two similar skilled signal-callers, Kelly can keep continuity, while being confident either of these quarterbacks can win games for him.
If you’re a fan of smashmouth football, you won’t get much of that in South Bend this fall. Kelly will match-up his best skill players against his opponent, and he believes his will be better.
Only time will tell, but that time is coming soon for the Irish.