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SOUTH BEND – Notre Dame football fans were curious to see just how first-year quarterback Everett Golson would perform against a solid Big Ten Conference defense last Saturday and Fighting Irish coach Brian Kelly was as well. However, just as important to the coach is how Golson performed Tuesday afternoon.
Notre Dame (2-0) will travel to Michigan State (2-0) on Saturday at 8 p.m. (ABC).
“When you look at the film you say 'Wow, physically he does some really good things,” Kelly said. “We want him to clean up the other areas: the communication, getting in the right play, which he is very capable of doing. We just have to make sure that he takes the next step and that next step is (at Tuesday's practice).”
When Saturdays arrive, it is valuable experience to be taking live snaps for the plethora of young Notre Dame players that are seeing the field this fall. However, the amount of instruction and learning is minimal until the following week.
“Because there's Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, and then I'm done,” Kelly said. “Then I can't coach Everett anymore. You can't do a lot of coaching on Saturdays, so Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday are really important days in the development of Everett.”
Golson made a number of spectacular plays in Saturday's 20-17 win against Purdue. He did a good job of keeping plays alive against the Boilermaker defensive front, which is one of the stronger groups that the Irish will see this season.
“As we talk about Everett's development, there are really two areas,” Kelly said, “one is physically playing the position, and we are really pleased with him. His numbers point that out. I think that he really had one bad throw (against Purdue). We saw an incredible athletic move he made coming out of the pocket to score a touchdown.”
But upon further review in the film room on Sunday and Monday, there were a number of things that Kelly wasn't entirely pleased with. Though “pleased physically, with where he is at this point,” Kelly said that Golson needs to clean up what the coach refers to as “housekeeping.”
“We have a lot (of work) to do with the mental part of the game,” Kelly said. “The quarterbacking, the fundamentals, and all of the things that go along with that. The physical elements that Everett brings to the position are quite exciting, but we've got to continue to work on the mental part of it.”
Facing the Spartans, which traditionally cause fits to the Irish Nation (the series is tied at five wins apiece over the last decade), Kelly said that the pressure is going to be on the Notre Dame offense to make something out of very few opportunities, and that includes Golson.
“Michigan State is so stingy on defense, that you have to find a way to get some big chunk plays,” Kelly said. “You are not going to go three yards and four yards (on a drive); you are not going to build a consistency on offense going against this kind of defense. So we'll have to be finding opportunities to get some match-ups so that we can get some bigger chunk plays – and I'm sure they feel the same way about our defense. There are a lot of similarities.”