No stage is too big for Everett Golson or at least that’s what Brian Kelly hopes as his freshman quarterback prepares to play his biggest college football game of the season.
No doubt come Monday night all eyes will be on Golson, who has started 10 of Notre Dame’s 12 games this season. Will he be the calm, cool and collected rookie we’ve seen all season or will he get out of his comfort zone and try and do too much resulting in not taking care of the football?
How well Golson plays against the Crimson Tide will go a long way in determining whether the Irish hoist their first national championship trophy since 1988.
Notre Dame’s defense has snatched most, if not all, the headlines this season and deservedly so, but without Golson under center, one has to wonder if the Irish would be where they are right now.
Golson has been under the microscope all season long. That’s nothing new for him or anybody for that matter who has ever played quarterback at Notre Dame. Such intense focus and scrutiny comes with the territory.
Kelly has every reason to believe Golson will shine against Bama, but you do sense just a little bit of uncertainty when listening to the Irish boss talk about No. 5.
“I don’t know if you can say for certain that there won’t be some nervousness there, but he’s been on some big stages,” Kelly explained. “I mean, the USC game was a pretty big stage, you know, to go undefeated, to be on national television.
“Heck, the kid started I think three or four games that were on national television, and in pretty hostile environments. At USC, at Oklahoma, at Michigan State. He’s got enough seasoning. I would be very, very surprised if he can’t handle the moment.”
True, but Coach, this is the biggest stage of them all against mighty Alabama for all the marbles.
It’s worth pointing out that Golson and his Irish offense haven’t faced a defense this season as good as the one they’ll see in a few days.
Alabama’s D is second in the country behind Notre Dame, allowing 10.69 points per game. Michigan State’s defense is ranked ninth, while Stanford, Michigan and Pittsburgh – also Irish foes this season – all boast top-25 defenses, too.
Oklahoma was good – ranked eighth at the time the Irish invaded Norman – but the Sooners aren’t Crimson Tide good.
Of course that game against OU was Golson’s coming out party to some extent.
He threw for 177 yards without an interception and ran for a score. Not bad for a player who was battling flu-like symptoms would you say?
The Oklahoma game aside, what has to impress you about Golson this year is how he hasn’t been a liability, which is really a rarity for such a young player at his position.
The young QB manages Notre Dame’s offense well and makes sure he doesn’t put his defense in poor situations with bad turnovers. More times than not, too, he’s able to avoid pressure and trouble with his fine scrambling ability.
Early in the season Kelly didn’t seem completely sold on Golson turning to backup Tommy Rees, for instance, to lead the Irish on a game-winning drive against Purdue. Now, though Kelly has complete faith and trust in Golson and knows like any player he’ll have to get rid of the butterflies in Miami, and once he does, Kelly expects another solid performance from him.
“I think he’s got enough experience this year that he can go in there and play the game,” Kelly said. “He’ll be like anybody else. The nerves will have to settle down. I think as he gets into the flow of the game, once you start seeing him smile a little bit, I think everyone that watches him knows that’s when he plays his best.”
If the Myrtle Beach, S.C. native plays his best Monday night, in all likelihood the Irish will be celebrating on South Beach.
Doug Griffiths is a columnist/writer for RantSports. Follow him on Twitter @ISLgriffiths.