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Blue-Gold game an important progress report for Golson

Apr 7, 2014, 4:10 PM EST

Everett Golson

Malik Zaire did Everett Golson a favor. The sophomore quarterback’s hunger for a starting job — and his willingness to talk about it — took the spotlight off the Irish quarterback that spent the last year under a microscope.

After entering spring practice as one of the college football world’s biggest stories, Golson’s return to South Bend and life as a student-athlete and quarterback has been fairly anonymous. He’s said all the right things in media sessions. Our brief looks at practice showed him every bit as competent on the field as he did leading the Irish to the BCS title game in 2012.

But Saturday’s Blue-Gold game will give us our first look at Golson in a competitive situation. While he’ll likely be the most untouchable player on the field, the receivers he’ll be throwing to aren’t, and it’ll be the first (pseudo) game experience he’s faced since that fateful January evening against Alabama.

Outside of shaking off the rust, Golson’s performance will also be a progress report as he absorbs some considerable tweaks to the offense. After playing a risk averse, run and tight end heavy package in 2012, Golson will be asked to run a completely different system.

“What we’re doing offensively, this year is new math for him,” Brian Kelly said last week. “I knew there was going to be a learning curve there, and I think he’s making really good progress from that standpoint. So he’s met those expectations.”

RELATED: Watch the game online via NBC Sports Live Extra

For as heralded as the year away made Golson, there’s plenty of work to do. In 2012, Golson was the 62nd ranked passer in the country, about as middle-of-the-road as you get. While he made steady progress as the season continued, he laid a massive egg against Michigan, and was largely unproductive against Michigan State and Stanford, two games the defense carried.

Brian VanGorder’s unit isn’t going to will the Irish to victory like the 2012 defense did. And that meana Golson needs to enter the season ready to lead both the team and the offense, not be just another guy in the huddle.

“We’re trying to run as much 11-on-11 real football in our spring as possible, because our quarterbacks need that,” Kelly said. “They’ve got to be able to take control of the offense, and we’re trying to put them in as much of a control position, if you will.

“Those are the things he needs to work on. He wasn’t very good at them in his first year here. That’s where I think he’s making some progress.”

We’ll get our first extended look on Saturday.

  1. 4horsemenrideagain - Apr 7, 2014 at 4:33 PM

    unless he throws for 300 yards, there will be those people out there crowing about gunner kiel’s spring game and how BK wishes he still had kiel.

    300 yards or not, I bet he does just fine and spreads the ball around, but I wouldn’t expect BK to show the whole play book and instead maybe just a couple of deep balls to fuller and brown.

    i’m looking forward to seeing Bryant catch some balls out of the backfield, and watching prosise and Carlisle show what they can do in the slot.

    • dickasman - Apr 7, 2014 at 4:40 PM

      I’d like to see both QBs do well otherwise we might see pining for Rees.

      • dbldmr - Apr 7, 2014 at 5:23 PM

        If anything brings nudeman back it will be somebody pining for Rees.

    • onward2victory - Apr 7, 2014 at 5:22 PM

      When you say “those people out there”, are you just referring to FNC??

  2. dickasman - Apr 7, 2014 at 4:38 PM

    Eaaaaasy Zaire. Stfu, keep your head up and don’t let golson do ur homework and your time will come.

  3. kingofpop1981 - Apr 7, 2014 at 5:33 PM

    Anyone know where you can watch the Blue and Gold game online? Either live or after the fact?

    • nd4life - Apr 7, 2014 at 6:24 PM

      I don’t know about online, but it is on NBCSports channel. You can always pay the 6 bucks to have it added to your cable and then cancel afterwards. At least you can do that on Dish. Also, there is a new Strong aND True on NBCSports tonight at 6:30 PM. I believe it re-airs Friday at 3:00 PM.

    • 4horsemenrideagain - Apr 8, 2014 at 10:37 AM

      try espn and it’s streaming video option. you have to register your cable provider (a pain in the butkus) but the video quality is good. I’ve watched ND lacrosse games on the ipad and it’s just about as good as tv.

    • italianirish - Apr 8, 2014 at 12:17 PM

      There is the new watchND website that seems to stream most sports and all football games. I would check there.

      http://watchnd.tv/#!/

  4. fnc111 - Apr 7, 2014 at 6:48 PM

    I couldn’t disagree anymore. These spring games are glorified practices. Don’t put much stock in what you see on Saturday. Keith should know better than that by now. It’s not a game. It’s a scrimmage for an hour. Another way to make money as well.

  5. fnc111 - Apr 7, 2014 at 6:57 PM

    I know I know onward, Tommy Rees is an All-American, do no wrong QB. He and he alone won so many big games for ND. Like all those clutch performances at Michigan. How could I forget? Only a few people in life, all of which come from this board, think there is no way another quarterback on earth could out perform TR or whoever Kelly picks. Talk about delusional.

    • 4horsemenrideagain - Apr 8, 2014 at 10:38 AM

      nude, put down fnc’s computer and walk away. just walk away.

  6. fnc111 - Apr 7, 2014 at 8:11 PM

    This article sums up Keith. When Golson is the starting quarterback and ND wins, it’s because of the defense. When Rees started and the team won, it was only because of Rees. ND loses with Rees starting? Keith always blamed the defense. Everyone has their bias. It’s cool. I just like to call it as I see it.

    • goirishgo - Apr 7, 2014 at 9:38 PM

      Me too. Please leave.

    • mbannon92 - Apr 9, 2014 at 11:41 AM

      Yes, because those games where Golson was injured or on the bench in the fourth quarter had nothing to do with the defense! Credit Everett for those wins even though he wasn’t in the game!

      Neither Rees nor Golson carried the team in any game in 2012. The three games the offense was explosive (Navy, Miami, Wake), the defense gave up 13 combined points.

  7. shaunodame - Apr 7, 2014 at 10:22 PM

    What happens if both Golson and Zaire tear it up? Or if Golson struggles and Zaire is on fire?

    • ndfenian - Apr 7, 2014 at 11:06 PM

      It will still be Golson. Get with the narrative. I’ve bought in.

    • danirish - Apr 8, 2014 at 2:13 PM

      I’ll take a guess that Golson will start but Zaire will play…a lot! What if Golson struggles versus top notch competition and Zaire comes in the next game against a cream puff?

      Too many variables at this point….

  8. joeschulz - Apr 8, 2014 at 11:59 AM

    If you haven’t noticed, it’s a Kelly choice and Kelly makes his choice again every day, every play. If you don’t play up to snuff, you get pulled if there is someone behind you with talent. Don’t worry Zaire, you will get your chance, probably more than once.

    • ndgoldandblue - Apr 8, 2014 at 1:13 PM

      Weeellllllll…I’d agree to a certain extent. Quarterback would be the exception to the rule in Kelly’s case. Tommy boy had two more “talented” quarterbacks behind him last year, and BK never gave him the hook even if it was deserved. Hendrix was and is more talented, but that talent didn’t even come close to living up to its potential. What a train wreck. And BK wasn’t going to throw a true freshman in there to right the ship even though other programs can find success going that route. That left Tommy to play well or stink up the joint. Either way, he wasn’t going to get pulled.

      • goirishgo - Apr 8, 2014 at 2:03 PM

        Rees would absolutely have been pulled if Hendrix had played better when he got the chance. But he didn’t. Not playing Zaire was a decision made in the longer term interest of the program. Rees was clearly the only option.

        Kelly has a long history of going with more than one QB – you only have to go back to 2012 for an example.

        QB play will be improved TY and the offense will be more dynamic as a result.

      • domer77blowsgoats - Apr 8, 2014 at 4:13 PM

        This is almost as bad of an observation to recruit to beat Navy

        BK hooked Crist how quick?
        How many QBs did he play in Cincy in one year?
        There were no options other than TR last year – Exhibit A – Hendrix vs USC
        BK said he was not burning MZ redshirt how many times?
        EG got yanked at least 3 different occasions…

        god please bring back Nude as at least he was factually accurate now and then…

      • tedlinko - Apr 9, 2014 at 12:50 AM

        domer and gosirish have it absolutely right. As much as I wanted Hendrix to succeed, when he got the opportunity against USC, he couldn;’t answer the bell. And I”m going to go out on a limb and speculate that ndbluandgold wasn’t at practice daily. Thus, I daresay BK probably has a better idea of where Zaire was at the time and what he could expect. As the head coach at Notre Dame, I daresay he understands that winning is important to keeping his job, so if he thought Zaire was the best chance to win, he’d have put him in. My guess is, he wasn’t ready.

      • ndgoldandblue - Apr 9, 2014 at 1:07 PM

        I see goat has crawled out from underneath his rock to throw out some mindless insults and a bunch of rhetorical questions. Usual schtick from him. goat provides worthwhile posts to this board how often? Go back underneath your rock, you loony.

  9. viktory2013 - Apr 8, 2014 at 1:01 PM

    Golson will be the starter just on his experience alone. Keep in mind he led ND through some major games in 2012: L.A. against S.C., Norman against Oklahoma, East Lansing against Michigan St., and against Alabama. But I do think Zaire will see a good deal of time coming in off the bench, if for no other reason than to save wear and tear on Golson. They’re similarly equipped so I don’t see a major dropoff. They’re both top quality quarterbacks.

    • irish4006 - Apr 9, 2014 at 12:01 AM

      What, no mention of the Pitt game?

  10. ndnapa - Apr 8, 2014 at 2:24 PM

    Kelly needs to put a package in for Zaire inside the 10. Don’t have to use him every time down there, but often.

    • irish4006 - Apr 9, 2014 at 12:04 AM

      Package plays usually suck, even when they work. Case in point, Bell-dozer. They don’t prepare a QB to eventually take over the entire offense. We only have 2 QBs (one senior and one sophomore) now and a dedicated position coach, there should be plenty of reps and teaching to go around to prepare both for the entire offense.

  11. c4evr - Apr 8, 2014 at 9:21 PM

    Can we please see some effing screens in the Spring game? Or is that showing too much of the playbook??

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