Okay, so we know two things as it stands right now.
For one, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish were not exactly off to the best start to the 2013 calendar year. They were embarrassed by Alabama in the National Championship Game, their Heisman finalist linebacker was caught up in an imaginary girlfriend scandal which turned into an unwanted national headline for weeks, and their top QB prospect coming through the ranks, Gunner Kiel, transferred to Cincinnati.
Second, and most importantly, we learned last night that the QB that led them to that title game appearance, Everett Golson, is no longer a member of the University.
Wait, I almost forgot. Before last night’s news, we learned earlier this week that top 2013 signee Eddie Vanderdoes may not want to attend the South Bend school. Alright, so it’s been a REALLY bad 2013 for the Irish.
However, back to last night’s news. When the story broke concerning Golson’s departure, it was a top news story throughout the sports world, and deservedly so. This was the kid in the most important position on the field, during Notre Dame’s most successful season in decades. Of course, on the surface, you’re going to associate his absence this season with complete and utter chaos.
Well, digging deeper into that surface, you shouldn’t.
While Golson did a manageable job of leading the offense last season, please, let’s not all pretend like he was making Heisman voters across the country drool at the very site of his god-like abilities. He had help, and a lot of it.
Notre Dame’s regular season was fueled by one of the best week-in, week-out defensive performances in the country. Every Saturday, Manti Te’o rallied his troops together and stifled all offenses they were lined up across from. While defense didn’t win a championship for the Irish in the end, it certainly had the majority to do with getting them there.
What also helped last year’s magical run was the ND running game that Golson had behind him. Running backs George Atkinson, Theo Riddick, and Cierre Wood were ultimately a consistent trio that were able to take a lot of the pressure off of Golson. They did their job of making life for the then-redshirt freshman much, much easier.
This year’s spring practice brought on optimism that Golson may come in to his own this season and be able to take the reins by himself and add his name to the list of historical breakout stars that have made Notre Dame football the entity it is today. Well, that didn’t get off to the best start neither.
In the spring game, Golson played less than favorably and had people once again questioning whether or not the sophomore was going to turn himself into a legendary signal caller.
Sure, this is a blow because Brian Kelly and staff put all their stock into trying to make Golson their “guy.” That’s not to say that the other QBs on the roster, Tommy Rees, Andrew Hendrix, and Malik Zaire, were ignored by any means. But, Golson was the leader of that pack, and now he’s not there anymore.
2013 will certainly be somewhat of a struggle for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Having to replace your starting quarterback gives a football team the always unenviable task of “trying to find your identity.”
But, to be clear and as evidenced especially by the back-to-reality moment that was served upon them on January 7 by Alabama, I’m not completely sure they knew their full identity in regards to the QB position to begin with.