SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Brian Kelly decided Friday he didn't want Everett Golson to play against BYU, citing health concerns following a concussion the redshirt freshman suffered against Stanford.
So Tommy Rees started Saturday, leaving many to wonder if it would finally spur the quarterback controversy that logic says should've materialized a few weeks ago.
But, as has been the case since Week 2, Kelly reiterated that Golson is Notre Dame's starting quarterback. He'll regain that role next week for Notre Dame's biggest game of the year to date, a showdown with No. 9 Oklahoma in Norman that carries plenty of BCS implications.
"He wanted to play," Kelly said, adding there was no chance Golson was going to play against BYU. "He made his case. I just felt like where we were (during the week) and my evaluation of him cumulatively, I felt like this was the best thing to do. He was supportive, he was great on the sideline. But he clearly, he really wanted to get in there as well.
"We feel like we've got a kid now that's 100 percent ready to go for Oklahoma."
Rees didn't blow the hinges off Notre Dame's depth chart on Saturday, though, completing seven of 16 attempts for 117 yards. He threw for a touchdown and was picked off, although the latter was hardly his fault -- wide receiver DaVaris Daniels whiffed on a pass, which bounced off his face mask and into the waiting hands of BYU linebacker Kyle Van Noy.
One thing Rees did show that Golson hasn't this year was a connection with tight end Tyler Eifert, although it was fleeting. All of Eifert's stats were compiled in the first quarter, with Rees finding him four times for 73 yards and a touchdown. Those four receptions were as many as Eifert had Oct. 13 against Stanford, and were one more than he had against Michigan State, Michigan and Miami combined.
"There's no magic there," Kelly said. "They clearly are very close friends, we all know that. They have been together for a while. But the routes were called to get him the football and we connected on those opportunities."
But the opportunities dried up in the second quarter, as Rees didn't attempt a pass in the final 15 minutes before the half. Rees didn't complete a pass from the start of the second quarter until the final seconds of the third, and then only threw once in the fourth. As the game progressed, it became clear if Notre Dame was going to win it, it was going to be on the ground.
So while Golson's development has become a series-by-series process, perhaps he wouldn't have gained much by playing Saturday.
"He could have reversed, pivoted and handed the ball off like Tommy did 30, 40 times in a row," Kelly said. "I think when we cut through all of this, my gut feeling was I wanted to err on the side of caution relative to playing him."