Notre Dame Football: Golson’s Gone, and The Irish Will Be Fine


Notre Dame has plenty of experience behind Zaire outside of QB

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish football forums have been filled with

Everett Golson

‘s name for the past month or so. It divided fans. Where would he go? Could we end up playing him? Some congratulated him, some berated him. Now that he’s officially a Florida State Seminole, we can end the Golson chatter because why would we talk about an FSU quarterback?

Now the attention moves to and is completely focused on the highly-talented–and highly inexperienced Malik Zaire. The upside is there, but with Golson gone, there is no experience behind him. Not just to back him up if he struggles, but to help guide him as a mentor. No player to be there for him that knows what he’s going through, just the coaches. This doesn’t mean that Zaire can’t be extremely successful, just something to think about.

Head coach Brian Kelly is in his sixth year at Notre Dame. when he arrived it was about the fast-paced, high-scoring spread offense. We still see shades of it, but Kelly has learned to adapt. This upcoming season isn’t going to be any different. With 19 of 22 starters returning from last year’s Music City Bowl, there may not be experience behind Zaire, but it’s plentiful around the rest of the roster.

The offensive line may be one of the most talented groups line coach Harry Hiestand has had at Notre Dame, and that’s saying a lot. And the stable of backs that Kelly will have at his disposal, which includes Tarean Folston, Greg Bryant, C.J. Prosise and Dexter Williams once he arrives at Notre Dame this fall will be a quartet of awesome. There have been flashes of what they can offer, but none have broken out yet. That may come this year.

Dec 30, 2014; Nashville, TN, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish quarterback Malik Zaire (8) hands the ball off to running back Tarean Folston (25) during the first half against the LSU Tigers in the Music City Bowl at LP Field. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

The combination of the back and line teamed with an inexperienced signal caller leads me to believe that Kelly will lean on them heavily this season. It doesn’t it one way mean Zaire is going to just run and hand the ball off. He’s got a cannon, and Kelly will use it. But with the running game being the focus, he’ll be able to take some of the focus and pressure off of Zaire and let the ground game set him up for success.

DeShone Kizer is a strong talented backup at quarterback, he just has zero experience. But you aren’t recruited to play quarterback at Notre Dame without the belief that you can step in and be that guy if given the opportunity. Kelly has faith in the “next man in” at every position, and that’s no different there.

There is, of course, that small chance of a graduate transfer coming to Notre Dame. Generally that doesn’t happen for a few reasons. They’re normally transferring from Notre Dame (see Golson, Dayne Crist) due to a plethora of talent that has beaten them out for playing time. And for that reason, most graduate transfers are looking to go somewhere that they feel there’s the best chance of playing time.

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This is Zaire’s team. Ohio State’s Braxton Miller‘s name has been mentioned, but I don’t think he would win the job if he did choose Notre Dame. Plus he’s been riddled with injuries in his career. If he was to transfer and get hurt again, we end up in the same spot, and Kizer has lost snaps with the first team offense. So the Fighting Irish are in the best position they can be in right now.

This is a very talented Notre Dame football team that was decimated by injuries last season. After a hot start, they faltered down the stretch, and in some cases were playing third-string guys at several spots. Kelly even had to burn a redshirt to make sure he had enough bodies to put out there. That’s something that doesn’t happen unless necessary.

There’s plenty to be excited about, as well as concerned about. But that’s just how it is for Notre Dame. The standards are high, and so are the expectations.

Next: Hiestand's O-Line Ready to Lead