ND’s Brian Kelly says Everett Golson needs work on ‘mental part’ of his game
By Mark Lazerus 648-3140 or email@example.com September 11, 2012 7:08PM
Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson lunges to the end zone for a touchdown as Purdue defenders Ricardo Allen (21), Josh Johnson (28) close in during an NCAA college football game Saturday, Sept. 8, 2012, in South Bend, Ind. (AP Photo/The News, Sam Householder) ELKHART TRUTH OUT
the big Number
6 — The number of ND’s remaining opponents currently in the AP Top 25.
Brian Kelly, then at Central Michigan, was a candidate for the Michigan State job back in 2006. Mark Dantonio got the gig. “That was so long ago for me, my brain is full of so many different things now,” Kelly said. “If I’m on a golf course in Michigan and making the turn and having a hot dog, maybe I’m thinking about it.”
Updated: October 14, 2012 1:47PM
SOUTH BEND — Anyone who saw Notre Dame’s Everett Golson sidestep two Purdue pass rushers and zip a 30-yard strike to Troy Niklas, or race out of the pocket and launch himself at the end zone pylon for a touchdown, knows that Golson has elite physical skills.
So yes, Brian Kelly knows Golson can play quarterback. But that doesn’t mean the redshirt freshman has “quarterbacking” down.
And that’s why he doesn’t have the job entirely nailed down, either.
“We saw his athletic ability, his escapability, we saw the incredibly athletic move, coming out of the pocket to score a touchdown,” Kelly said. “So physically, we’re pleased with where he’s at, and he’s living up to what we thought he could do. But we’ve got a lot to do with the mental part of the game, the quarterbacking, the fundamentals — all the things that go along with it.”
That means getting the plays in from the sideline in a speedy manner — something with which Golson has struggled since the spring. That means telling his teammates the play and getting them set in a timely fashion — something with which Golson occasionally had trouble in the din of Notre Dame Stadium against Purdue. And that means calling out coverages and protections — something with which Golson has been getting help from linemen Braxton Cave and Zack Martin.
Kelly calls it “housekeeping.”
An extra few seconds here or there might not seem like much midway through the second quarter. But in the two-minute offense, every second is precious. And that, Kelly said Tuesday, was one big reason that he benched Golson in favor of veteran Tommy Rees for what proved to be the game-winning drive against the Boilermakers.
And it’s why he hasn’t ruled out doing it again this Saturday at No. 10 Michigan Sate, or in any other game, until Golson proves he has the ability to not just make plays, but run the offense.
“He’s a work in progress,” Kelly said of Golson. “He’s somebody that’s had two starts and he was on the scout team at this time last year. He continues to get better.”
Golson has been shielded from the media since the Purdue game, so it’s anybody’s guess how he handled the benching. But Kelly said the postgame film session opened his young quarterback’s eyes.
“He’s seeing it for the first time,” Kelly said. “He’s looking at it going, ‘Wow, it took me seven seconds to actually get up there. Maybe I need to speed up my housekeeping.’”
It doesn’t get any easier for Golson. He’ll be playing in his first true road game Saturday when the No. 20 Irish visit Spartan Stadium, and it’s sure to be a hostile environment. Kelly will be using all the usual tricks this week, including piping in crowd noise at practice, to best prepare Golson for the ruckus. In fact, Kelly thinks the crowd noise might help Golson, because it will force Notre Dame to simplify its sideline communications.
In the meantime, Kelly said he has three more days of practice to continue turning Golson into a savvy quarterback. And he said that’s easier than having to take a savvy quarterback and turn him into an elite athlete.
“When you look at the film, and you see him, you go, wow, physically he does some really good things,” Kelly said. “We just need to make sure he’s taking that next step. … So (Tuesday), Wednesday and Thursday are really important days in the development of Everett Golson.”