Tag: Everett Golson

Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl

Quarterbacks will be live during Blue-Gold game


With Notre Dame Stadium under construction, this was already going to be a different kind of Blue-Gold game. But when Brian Kelly announced that quarterbacks Everett Golson and Malik Zaire were going to be live for the first half, he confirmed it.

Amidst a quarterback competition that’s been the story of spring practice, Kelly announced that the competition will continue with live snaps for both quarterbacks during Saturday’s Blue-Gold game. It’s another reason to tune-in and watch the spring game, broadcast live Saturday at 12:30 p.m. EST on NBCSN.

“The quarterbacks will be live in the first half,” Kelly said after Wednesday’s practice. “So Everett and Malik will get a chance to really show themselves and be involved with everything within our game plan and compete.”

After years of having the quarterbacks in red jerseys, seeing teammates go after their own quarterback will be a different experience. While Kelly said the refs will have a “quick whistle,” getting a look at Brian VanGorder’s defense going after Golson and Zaire will be fun to watch.

It’ll also be a necessity for the coaching staff, who continue to evaluate the play of both quarterbacks as an interesting spring comes to a close. Kelly talked about the decision to keep his quarterbacks live, acknowledging that each guy needs the full-go aspects of the game to show his progress under live conditions.

“Both of them are guys that require that element in their game,” Kelly said. “Both of those guys need to be who they are, and that’s who they are. They’re guys that need to move in the pocket, they make plays with their feet and we want to be able to run the ball as well.”

While most have focused on the competition between the quarterbacks, Kelly opened up about how the coaching staff used the spring to advance the skill-sets of each signal caller. So while most thought Golson’s extensive playing experience likely gave him a head start on the starting job for 2015, Kelly talked about the different lenses they’re using to evaluate their quarterbacks.

“For us, it’s been working on what we perceive to be what their weaknesses were, not necessarily game experience, because you can’t duplicate game experience,” Kelly said. “We know what they look like when they win the game.

“For Everett, it’s been pocket presence and taking care of the football, so we’re really evaluating him on those things. For Malik, it’s accuracy and throwing the football and managing the offense. Our evaluation has not been about the game experience, because we’ve seen them both play and we know how they react in the game. So it’s really been about evaluating them on those criteria.”

On Saturday, we’ll get our longest look at the two quarterbacks up for the job. After Zaire outplayed Golson in last year’s spring game—though facing very different defensive play calls and while wearing red jerseys—it’ll be interesting to see how things shake out on Saturday.


Even without guarantee, Kelly expects Golson to return next season

Michigan v Notre Dame

Brian Kelly can’t be sure that Everett Golson will be here in 2015. But after 25 years of coaching college football, Notre Dame’s head coach feels like Golson’s actions are speaking for themselves.

“I couldn’t tell you for certain,” Kelly acknowledged, when asked point-blank if he knew if Golson was going to be back with the team after he earned his diploma.

That’s life with the NCAA’s graduate transfer rule—a rare moment when the student-athlete holds all the cards. But with the Irish entering their final week of spring practice, Kelly leans on what he’s seeing from his veteran quarterback that makes him believe he’ll finish his college career in South Bend.

“He’s had his best spring since he’s been here,” Kelly said. “He’s fully engaged in everything that he’s doing. It’s the best that I’ve seen him do the things that we’ve asked him to do since he’s been here.”

Golson hasn’t made any public comment about his future. That’s by design and something Kelly has supported, keeping him away from media availability this spring so he can focus on a full load of football and academics.

And it’s that effort, both on and off the field, that makes Kelly believe he’ll have Golson in the program—and out front—come the all important summer months.

“It’s like anything else, if you’re half in, you kind of see it,” Kelly continued. “Listen, I’m not shocked by anything that 18-to-21-year-olds do, I’ve been in this business too long. But there’s no indication that anything he’s done would mean he’s just doing this as a way to go somewhere else. If I sensed it at all, I’d have pulled the plug on it myself, because we’re wasting our time.”

That may be the most important part of all of this. Kelly as the head of Notre Dame’s football program wouldn’t have allowed Golson to continue to take reps and take snaps from Malik Zaire if he didn’t believe Golson was going to stick around and work to be a part of this team.

This isn’t the first time Kelly has said this. He said it in the run-up to the Music City Bowl, where he made it clear that Zaire was going to start and Golson was going to have to earn back playing time.

Some thought that was merely coachspeak. But this is a head coach who let Aaron Lynch walk away from this team—never begging him to come back. Kelly did the same thing when Gunner Kiel wanted out, letting the five-star quarterback transfer with little hesitation.

Kelly never blinked when Golson was ripped from the program before the 2013 season. Nor did he once complain about losing his star cornerback and best wide receiver, along with his starting defensive end and two other defensive contributors in the days leading up to last season.

That’s life in college football. So with little guarantee of anything, Kelly moves forward with the hopes that Golson is part of this program, knowing what’s at stake for all involved.

“I think I have a pretty good sense of people and situations,” Kelly said. “I’m not going to jeopardize our program, our staff, our livelihood, what we do, if someone’s not bought in and 100 percent committed.”


Irish QB battle will (understandably) head into fall camp

Michigan v Notre Dame

Wednesday, Brian Kelly confirmed what just about every Notre Dame football fan already knew: The quarterback battle between Everett Golson and Malik Zaire will head into fall camp.

“They’ll continue to compete into August. There’s no question,” Kelly said.

What that means remains to be seen.

For Zaire, it’s the status quo. After all, Kelly said the same thing last spring, telling anybody who’d listen that Zaire was giving Golson a true run for his money. (It didn’t result in the shackles being taken off Zaire until late-November.)

For Golson, it’s not quite as simple. With his transfer options wide open after he earns his diploma in May, Golson can play next season for anybody. Kelly’s announcement makes any decision to depart a very complicated gamble.

There’s no team where Golson will go that has better weapons. There’s no offense he knows better. And there’s no group of players where he’ll feel more comfortable.

Ultimately, Kelly and the offensive staff understand that. And they also know that after living and dying with Golson in 2014, they’ll need both of their quarterbacks to push each other, making the turnovers and mistakes that plagued Golson’s game dealbreakers.

“I think that’s healthy competition. They’re both trying to get better and working to get better in the areas we’ve asked them to focus on,” Kelly said on Wednesday. “I can’t see where that’s not healthy and it will continue to work to get us better as a football team because they’re getting better every day.”

But just because the winner won’t be named until fall camp, doesn’t mean the competition won’t continue. On Saturday, the Irish will go live—quarterbacks included. It’s the type of scenario that wasn’t possible in years’ past, when the Irish usually had a starting quarterback but an unproven backup.

That’s not the case heading into 2015. If all goes according to plan, the Irish will enter camp with two starting-caliber quarterbacks.

And if that happens, Kelly can consider this spring a success, even without naming his starter.