SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Brian Kelly said this week that he he intends to move ahead with Everett Golson as Notre Dame's starting quarterback, which should come as no surprise. Golson completed 12-of-18 passes for 144 yards with a touchdown and interception in Notre Dame's season-opening blowout win over Navy, doing nothing in the process to lose the job he earned in fall camp.
In the buildup to the season opener, Kelly and offensive coordinator Chuck Martin both hinted that a rough first game for whoever their starter was could result in a change for Week 2, when junior quarterback Tommy Rees would be reinstated to the team. Golson passed his first test, even if he's not looking at it that way.
"You still have the quarterback situation," Golson said. "I know if there was a game that -- my job is not certain right now, is what I'm saying. I still have my foot on the gas pedal. I'm just going to keep working and trying to be the best I can be."
Nobody knew how Golson would handle his role as he led Notre Dame's offense on to the field in Dublin. Not Kelly, not Martin, not even Golson. But as the game progressed, the sophomore didn't show anything resembling first-game jitters.
"Coming out, I didn't really know what to expect, being that it was my first game," Golson said. "I didn't know what to expect at all. After that first drive, I had a chance to kind of settle in a little bit, that's when I really felt calm."
His coach saw the same thing, and said it's the most encouraging sign that came out of Ireland.
"This is a process for Everett," Kelly said. There will be continual week to week of growing as a quarterback. I guess what I like the most in the big picture sense was his comfortable place out on the field. He did not seem overwhelmed at any time. He was extremely communicative when he got to the sideline. He could tell me what was going on. Those are all big picture, good things, after game one."
Notre Dame's playbook was fairly conservative against Navy, with the passing game sticking to short throws to help Golson ease into things. He was mainly a pocket passer, and was only credited for one rush (which resulted in a loss of eight yards).
And with an offensive line carving out holes for a pair of dynamic running backs, there was little need to be anything more than vanilla.
"It helped me out a lot, and the coaches felt that it was the best game for us," Golson said of the gameplan. "It's kind of one those things, if it's not broke, don't fix it. We're running the ball pretty good, we weren't showing any signs of slowing up, so why stop."
But Golson's teammates see a quarterback who has the ability to do more than sling a few short passes and hand the ball off to an explosive stable of running backs.
"He's got a gun, he can throw the ball," offensive lineman Chris Watt said. "I guess we'll see when he opens it up and starts running a little bit."
"Everett can run, and he can throw," linebacker Manti Te'o explained when asked if Golson reminded him of anyone. "He has a pretty good cannon. He's different. I don't think I've gone against anybody like Everett."
Golson still has a few things to work on before the Notre Dame offense will be ready to open up -- the quarterback noted his decisiveness and footwork were the two biggest areas in which he needs to improve. He may not reach that point this month, next month or this season.
Kelly will readily admit that there will be growing pains as Golson develops. There will be mistakes, as we saw with his interception against Navy (Golson said he missed DaVaris Daniels on the pass). But from the looks of it, Kelly may be willing to live with those issues -- so long as they don't become serious, of course -- as Golson grows into the offense.
While Golson's role appears fairly secure, though, that's not how he's viewing it, choosing to believe he's not guaranteed to start from one week to the next. Although now that he will start against Purdue, he can finally look forward to his home debut.
"It's going to be tremendous, man. It's going to be real crazy," Golson said of Saturday's game at Notre Dame Stadium. "Playing in Dublin, I guess my nerves were a little bit low because you didn't really know anybody in Dublin, or at least I didn't. Playing in front of 81,000 fans that you actually know, the nerves are still going to be there but I'm just going to stay calm and stay the course."