The line on Everett Golson may not pop, but it's all Notre Dame needed in Saturday's 50-10 win over Navy at Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland. Throughout fall camp, Notre Dame's quarterbacks reiterated the need to avoid turnovers and to get the ball to the team's stable of playmakers.
For Golson, that mostly meant handing the ball off to Theo Riddick (19 carries, 107 yards, 2 touchdowns) and George Atkinson III (9 carries, 99 yards, 2 touchdowns). But whereas turnovers plagued Notre Dame right off the bat in 2011, Golson only committed one, a second-quarter interception. While it wasn't a good one -- Golson stared down tight end Tyler Eifert, and Navy's Parrish Gaines jumped the route in the red zone -- it was the only blemish on an otherwise solid game from the Notre Dame quarterback.
10 Notre Dame players caught a pass in the game, with Eifert's four receptions leading the way. All of the team's freshman wide receivers -- Chris Brown, Davonte Neal and Justin Ferguson -- had a reception, while Golson found fellow DaVaris Daniels and Troy Niklas for 35 and 29-yard completions, respectively.
Golson only threw for 144 yards, but with the success of Notre Dame's ground attack, he didn't have to do much more. While some may point to the glaring weaknesses of Navy's squad, the result is more than Notre Dame could say last year. Golson and the rest of Notre Dame's inexperienced offensive players now have their feet wet at the collegiate level, and they did so in a 40-point blowout win.
But it wasn't all good
There were two areas of concern that emerged in Saturday's game -- one that maybe was expected, one that wasn't.
KeiVarae Russell was burned a few times by hobbled Navy quarterback Trey Miller, who resorted to passing 19 times in the contest. The inexperience of Russell -- a prep running back -- showed at times, and how he handles more of a traditional passing offense next week against Purdue will certainly be important.
The Irish had multiple problems on PATs, with Nick Tausch missing his first attempt and holder Ben Turk whiffing on a snap later in the game.
Russell's going to be learning on the job this year, so growing pains like we saw Saturday will happen. Whether he's able to minimize the effects they have on a game will be key as Notre Dame faces more pass-happy offenses going forward.