Notre Dame vs. Rutgers
When: Noon Dec. 28
Where: Yankee Stadium
FORT WAYNE — Everett Golson will need to be mentally strong when he returns to Notre Dame, coach Brian Kelly told reporters Saturday.
The quarterback was readmitted to the university Friday after being suspended for the fall semester because of an academic issue. Golson will not be able to practice with, travel with or play for the No. 25 Irish (8-4) against Rutgers (6-6) in the Pinstripe Bowl on Dec. 28 in Yankee Stadium.
But when Golson, who would have been a junior this year, does return, Kelly said he will need to be prepared to block out a lot of noise.
“I think there is going to be as many people looking for him to not succeed as to succeed. Unfortunately, not everybody likes a good story,” Kelly said. “There will be some cynics out there. He’s prepared to handle all of those things, and we will be there to support him.”
Kelly said he hadn’t talked to Golson since the quarterback was readmitted as the two exchanged voice mails. Kelly did travel to Golson’s hometown of Myrtle Beach, S.C., on Tuesday to meet with him, and the coach liked what he saw.
“He’s physically more mature, probably over 200 pounds. He looked great quite frankly,” Kelly said of Golson, who was listed at 185 pounds last year when he helped lead Notre Dame to a 12-0 regular season and the BCS championship game.
“I think mentally is really where I saw a young man that understands what he is coming back to. … He’s coming back as somebody who is going to have to lead.”
While Kelly is preparing for Golson to return, he is also getting ready for a game without two coordinators. Bob Diaco, the Irish’s defensive coordinator the last four years, left to become the head coach at Connecticut on Wednesday, and Chuck Martin, the Irish’s offensive coordinator the last two seasons, was named the head coach at Miami (Ohio) on Dec. 3.
Kelly said he has been involved a little more with the offense since Martin’s departure, and he said he had faith that cornerbacks coach Kerry Cooks, who was named the defensive coordinator for the bowl game, line coach Mike Elston and safeties coach Bob Elliott will be able to handle the defense. Graduate assistant Josh Reardon, who worked with Diaco the last two seasons, has helped coach the linebackers.
“There won’t be any excuses about not being prepared and not having our guys ready to play,” Kelly said.
Kelly also said he doesn’t expect to have any more departures from his staff, even though a report surfaced that Diaco was looking at Elston to become the defensive coordinator at UConn.
“I expect all my staff to stay in place,” Kelly said.