Golson proving to be the right fit for surging Notre Dame

Golson proving to be the right fit for surging Notre Dame
September 17, 2012, 1:08 am
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Everett Golson went into a hostile environment for the first time in his collegiate career, and he came away with a clean sheet.

Fourteen completions on 32 passes may not look impressive. Same goes for Golson's 178 passing yards, and one touchdown to go with them. Nobody's confusing Golson for a Heisman candidate.

But he didn't turn the ball over on Saturday, allowing the Notre Dame defense to lock down on Michigan State's defense. Notre Dame's defense didn't have its back up against the wall at any point, and in turn were able to keep the Spartans out of the end zone.

Golson's only coughed the ball up twice this season. The first came when he missed a route and forced a pass to Tyler Eifert against Navy, which nearly resulted in a Midshipmen score until Stephon Tuitt scooped up a fumble and sprinted 77 yards for a touchdown. The second was a fumble inside Notre Dame's red zone, and it resulted in Purdue tying things up late in the team's win Sept. 8.

That's not to say those have been Golson's only two mistakes. He threw two balls a week ago that Purdue cornerback Josh Johnson easily could've picked off. Maybe he'll throw a costly interception at some point, but if he does, it'll probably be an isolated incident.

Last year, Tommy Rees threw 14 interceptions, and in a lot of cases they weren't isolated. He threw two interceptions in three of Notre Dame's five losses, and combined with Andrew Hendrix to throw a pair of picks in another defeat.

So far, Golson has looked calm under pressure. Sure, he wasn't given the chance to perform under pressure against Purdue, but he didn't look rattled against a fearsome Michigan State defense in East Lansing.

Coach Brian Kelly still sees room for improvement with Golson, which is pretty obvious. Notre Dame's offensive potential is a whole lot higher than one that just needs to avoid turnovers.

"He did some really good things, but we've got a long way to go," Kelly said of Golson. "He needs to continue to stay on task, Everett, and continue to develop each and every week. There are a lot of things. We are so far from where we need to be offensively. I think a lot of it is just in the stuff that we're doing right now. We don't need to extend the playbook any deeper."

While the defense will be without senior safety Jamoris Slaughter, who was lost for the season with an Achilles injury, it's a strong, talented group. And it's shown to be one that's good enough to carry an offense that's still growing with Golson under center, at least in the first quarter of the season.

Kelly says Notre Dame's offense is nowhere where it needs to be. There's a chance the Irish won't reach that point in 2012. There will be bumps along the road between now and the end of November.

But maybe Notre Dame's offense won't need to reach its full potential for the team to have success -- that's if Golson continues what he's done in these three games. Limit turnovers, and the players around him may be good enough to keep racking up the wins.