Notre Dame’s Everett Golson Is In A Dangerous Regression


After leading the Notre Dame Fighting Irish to the BCS title game in 2012 on essentially his talent alone, expectations were high for Everett Golson entering the 2014 season. After “poor academic judgement” by Golson saw him miss all last season, he spent the time working on his skills, preparing for his return to Notre Dame. Why didn’t he transfer? He said that was “too easy”. All the right words from the Irish signal caller at the time.

Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly compared the 2012 season to Golson “riding the bus”. In 2014, he was driving it. And the analogy seemed to be spot on as he led the Irish to three-straight wins to open the season, committing zero turnovers while having his hand in 11 scores. The deep ball was there. The reads at the line were correct. He scrambled when he had to, stayed in the pocket otherwise. The Heisman talk started for the young man who missed an entire season of football.

Then came the Syracuse game.

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Golson would hit on 32-for-39 passing, setting a record for consecutive completions, just missing the NCAA record. But two of his misses were interceptions. The clean slate was now dirtied as the turnover bug bit him. But the Orangemen were overmatched, and the two picks didn’t factor in the outcome. It didn’t seem to be a concern at the time, but it should have.

Since the Syracuse game, The Irish are 3-2, and Golson is responsible for 16 TDs (13 passing, 3 rushing), and has thrown nine interceptions. That’s not counting fumbles and mental breakdowns. If Golson is driving the bus, he’s very near crossing the center line and crashing. He’s in a regression that Brian Kelly has to address.

Following the Arizona State game, Kelly was quick to place the turnovers decisively on Golson. But the press pushed back a bit, and Kelly backed off. But his comments spoke volumes.

"“We’ve been working with him. Sooner or later he’s got to take it on himself to take care of the football,” Kelly said. “I don’t know what else to do.”  h/t Bob Wieneke, South Bend Tribune"

As our own Andrew Hall questioned, should Kelly consider playing Malik Zaire? If he believes it’s all Golson at this point to take care of the ball, then the answer is yes. Golson’s regression from that Syracuse game has been mind-numbing. He did play well in the Florida State game, as it looked like he had brought the Irish back for a victory. Maybe the story from that point would have changed had they won, but we’ll never know.

What we do know is the decision-making of Golson has regressed. The weight of leading this team seems to finally be bearing down on him. And the weight has increased as team leaders keep falling one by one. First Austin Collinsworth, then Joe Schmidt. The defense is surrendering points at an astronomical pace, and Golson seems to feel he needs to top that pace, which leads to turnovers.

Golson has the physical gifts to be a successful quarterback at Notre Dame, and no one is counting him out. But when Kelly “opened” the quarterback competition in the spring between Golson and Zaire, they both excelled. Zaire believed he would win the job, and Golson played like he hadn’t missed a beat. Coach Kelly has been well-known for playing multiple quarterbacks, no matter how talented they are. This situation demands he return to that philosophy for the good of the program.