The Golson formula: Oklahoma game key in QB's development

950833.png

The Golson formula: Oklahoma game key in QB's development

Following Notre Dame's 30-13 win over Oklahoma, Everett Golson admitted he probably couldn't have quarterbacked the Irish to a such a monumental victory a few weeks earlier in the season. It was Golson's best game to date, with his fourth quarter 50-yard deep ball to Chris Brown standing out.

Golson's confidence was riding high, and understandably so. A week later, that confidence could've been crushed.

A less-than-stellar first half led coach Brian Kelly and offensive coordinator Chuck Martin to remove Golson from Notre Dame's matchup with Pittsburgh, inserting Tommy Rees at the end of the second quarter and staying with him to open the second half.

It was the third time Golson was removed in favor of Rees for performance reasons during the 2012 season, although Martin said the decision wasn't as easy as it was against Purdue and Michigan.

"We had been through it and kinda survived it, so theres almost just (a feeling of) like hey, thats always what gives you the best chance to win," Martin said. "I would say that was the hardest day to figure out what gave us the best chance to win."

After Rees through an interception, Golson jumped back in. And while he threw a nearly-debilitating fourth quarter interception in the end zone, he wound up rallying to lead Notre Dame to a narrow triple-overtime win over the Panthers.

"Being taken out like that at the time, initially it hurt, to be honest," Golson said. "The competitor in me wanted to still be in there, (to show) that I could handle it and come back from adversity. I guess (Kelly) saw what was best, so he took me out.

"The adversitys going to be there, but its about what you do with it after. Ive used that as motivation."

It's tough to get used to being pulled from a game, and in the previous two instances, Golson didn't have the complete trust of his coaching staff and, to some extent, his teammates. But with his performance against Oklahoma, the redshirt freshman earned the total confidence of those around him. That turned out to be key for Golson's strong comeback after his benching, not only that day against Pittsburgh but against Boston College, Wake Forest and USC.

"I went up to him at halftime -- this is when he found he wasnt going in -- and I told him, 'youre going to have to go back in, or at some point this season at least, if not this game," senior wide receiver Robby Toma recalled. " And he actually went back in the game and won us the game. So I think for him to be able to do that really helped him this year.

"Hes always been confident, but to know guys on the team are confident in him now, I think that was the biggest thing for him," Toma added.

Despite plenty of reassurances from his coach, perhaps Golson felt as if he had to look over his shoulder in the weeks prior to Notre Dame's trip to Norman. That's not to say that held him back -- Martin would certainly disagree with that -- but the way Golson played at Oklahoma solidified in his mind he was the No. 1 quarterback, and nothing that happened during a game was going to change that.

"I think once he knew after the Oklahoma game that he was the guy, the confidence level and the trust builds and builds and builds," Kelly said.

Martin, who's been Golson's toughest critic throughout the 2012 campaign, paid Golson a rare compliment after the game in Oklahoma. But Golson is someone who quickly understands what he did wrong when he does it, so often times doesn't need Martin or Kelly screaming in his face about a poor play.

In that same vein, Golson didn't necessarily need Martin to tell him he played a good game at Oklahoma. He already knew.

"He left the field at Oklahoma thinking hey, I really played my tail off tonight for four quarters in a hostile environment," Martin said. " I think he kinda felt like he played a complete game and had the confidence from there that I can do this at this level at a very high level all the time."

After the Oklahoma game, Golson completed 74 of 122 passes for 990 yards with 7 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. There's still plenty of room for improvement -- specifically, in the red zone -- and even on the grandest stage in college football, Golson will still be in the midst of a learning process.

But that comes with the territory for most young quarterbacks. It's been a collective effort to get Golson to this point, where he's the quarterback of a team 60 minutes away from a championship.

"Im very confident not only with myself but with the supporting cast of my teammates," Golson said. "You talk about our team this year, weve always been set at the underdog. And going in to it, nobody would ever saw us at this point.

"But we worked our way up from the bottom, and that just shows great resilience from us and great unity from us. Going in with a great group of guys that I do have does give me a great amount of confidence."

Sore Adam Eaton out of White Sox lineup for several days

Sore Adam Eaton out of White Sox lineup for several days

CLEVELAND — Adam Eaton feels sore everywhere and chances are slim he’d play again before he is re-evaluated on Monday when the team returns home.

But the White Sox outfielder said Saturday afternoon that he felt better than he did Friday when he was cleared for a concussion after crashing into the outfield wall making a fantastic catch.

Eaton, who left in the sixth inning of Friday’s game, said he stayed down on the ground for several minutes after he knocked the wind out of himself. Manager Robin Ventura mostly ruled Eaton out for Saturday and Sunday after his hip, shoulder and back were all involved.

“If anybody has ever been in a car accident, it’s kind of the same thing,” Eaton said. “It’s taking inventory of the body parts and making sure everything is back to where we’re supposed to be, and as soon as that is accounted for, we’ll get back out there and play again.

“It seemed like I passed (the concussion test) pretty well.”

Whereas early in his career the White Sox asked Eaton, who played as if his hair were on fire, to dial it back, Ventura appreciated the outfielder’s effort. Not only was there a possibility Eaton could get to the ball, he made a fantastic grab before slamming into the wall. Ventura applauded how much progress Eaton has made in knowing when and when not to go all out in the name of his own safety.

“He’s been a lot better,” Ventura said. “He would run after balls that were probably 10 rows deep. …

“Before he was just out there running crazy and right now he has a better understanding of what he can get to. Last night was just a great play, he runs into the wall and gets himself banged up.”

Staying on the field has made Eaton an extremely valuable asset for the White Sox. Not only is he a strong candidate to win a Rawlings Gold Glove, Eaton has a .791 OPS in 683 plate appearances. He headed into Saturday seventh among the American League position players with 6 Wins Above Replacement. And he has proven versatile with the ability to play right and center field and hit in several spots in the lineup.

“When you look what he does … he’s been pretty dang valuable,” Ventura said.

Eaton feels like part of the value he brings is his willingness to go all out for his teammates. He doesn’t intend to slow down any more than he already has. Eaton said Saturday he was a little ticked by some of the responses he received on social media after the play, feeling like he would have heard criticism if he had backed off.

“You play hard and then all of a sudden you get hurt playing hard and then people have a problem with it and then they say you should play hard,” Eaton said.

“Instead of choosing my body, I chose my team. People can curse me for it, but the day that I backpedal and let the ball hit off the wall is the day I’m going to quit baseball.”

Complete Bears-Cowboys coverage on CSN

Complete Bears-Cowboys coverage on CSN

The Bears and Dallas Cowboys square off Sunday at 7:30 p.m. on NBC and CSN Chicago has you covered along the way.

Check out a schedule of Sunday's events:

— Meijer Bears Pregame Live with Chris Boden, Lance Briggs, Alex Brown, Jim Miller and Dan Jiggetts airs at 6:30 p.m. on CSN.

— Blue Cross Blue Shield of Illinois Bears Halftime Live streaming live on CSNChicago.com and ChicagoBears.com.

— State Farm Bears Postgame Live airing immediately after the game on CSN.

Important Twitter follows:

— John "Moon" Mullin (@CSNMoonMullin), CSNChicago

— Bears Talk (@CSNBears), CSNChicago

— Kip Lewis (@CSNKipLewis), CSNChicago

— Chris Boden (@CSNBoden), CSNChicago