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Notre Dame football coach Brian Kelly wants his starting quarterback Everett Golson to have faith in himself, as well as faith in his coaches. And the third-year coach believes that is indeed the case in the wake of Saturday’s Purdue game.
Golson played the initial 58 minutes of the 20-17 victory in South Bend. However, for the final two minutes, he got benched and back-up Tommy Rees got to come in and lead the Fighting Irish (2-0) for the rest of the game. Kelly said on Sunday that Golson wasn’t happy about the decision and that is just fine with the coach.
“I think anybody that gets taken out of the game is going to react in a manner that he wants to play,” Kelly said. “And if they don’t, I don’t want him to be our quarterback. I know Everett wanted to be in the game and that’s a good thing. But he’s been supported by Tommy and Andrew, and now it was his chance to support Tommy in that situation. You know, he’s a young man that’s understanding and growing every day, and we won’t have any issues moving forward.”
Kelly explained his confidence that there won’t be any turmoil because of the constant communication and trust that the Irish coaching staff has developed with Golson, as well as the other players. And Golson can take solace in the fact that Kelly was adamant immediately following the win that Golson is without question the Notre Dame starting quarterback going forward.
“I think we spend so much time together that (Everett is) going to know that what we tell him is what we mean,” Kelly said. “We are not going to be sending mixed messages. There’s got to be a trust factor there that, hey, what we tell you is what we mean; let’s go back to work. So I think if you only talk to him once a week, yeah, you probably would have those concerns, but we eat dinner together every day. So there’s constant communication where we are all on the same page.”
Golson played well in just his second start according to the coach. He did have a late fumble, which allowed Purdue to be in scoring position to tie the game in the final minutes. But he also did a lot of positive things which put his team in the position to lead for most of the game.
“I thought (Everett) threw the ball very well,” Kelly said. “He missed one pass that we thought that he should have connected on. But no, he throws the ball well.”
Golson completed 21 of his 31 passes for 289 yards and one touchdown. He showed good mobility as he continually kept plays alive. However, he was under heavy duress from the Purdue defensive front and got sacked five times, not all of which were his fault according to Kelly.
“I think there’s one, for sure, he clearly needed to get rid of the football,” Kelly said. “I’ll take one for him. We are running some hitch routes and they were sitting on our routes and he didn’t have anything. And then there’s a couple on the offensive line. I wouldn’t pin it on one guy. I think Everett knows he’s got to do a better job of getting rid of the ball. There’s some guys up front that got beat on some one on one match-ups, and I want to make sure I get some plays in there where he’s not holding the ball.”
Another aspect of Golson’s development that he is progressing in is the ability to read defenses which are concocted to confuse even the most experienced quarterbacks, let alone a guy making just his second start. But again, Kelly was pleased with Golson’s performance in that regard, which the quarterback has admitted in the past, is definitely an area of weakness with him.
“He’s pretty good,” Kelly said. “I’m just pulling through my grade sheets here. In the first half, he had one protection check that was wrong and he had one running play that he should have changed. It was just some very subtle changes into their fronts. They were in a 5-2 and then merged to a 3-4. They looked very similar, yet they influenced the play quite a bit. It required us to get within at halftime; and we made those adjustments in the second half, because they were so difficult to tell between the two fronts, that’s when we started calling the plays. But he did a pretty good job. There were only two times where he didn’t have us in the right look.”