SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Everett Golson has shown his youth plenty of times this year, with that inexperience materializing into fumbles, interceptions, missed reads or bad decisions.
But he's also shown his ceiling, with that talent showing up in the form of a touchdown pass he threw to tight end Tyler Eifert on Saturday.
Down seven and facing a third-and-18 from Stanford's 24, Golson found Eifert just outside the end zone for a touchdown. He put the ball high, and Eifert skied over both Stanford defenders -- neither of whom could've got a hand on the ball thanks to Eifert's size and athleticism.
"It was a great read and a great throw," Eifert said. "It was a great play."
It's also one Golson's coach doesn't think he could've made earlier in the year. Brian Kelly said Tuesday Golson probably wouldn't have made the read to put enough air under the ball after only a few weeks of game experience.
"That's something that he has worked hard at developing," Kelly said. "He would have not made that throw in Week 1 or Week 2. He would have thrown a line drive level one ball and it would either have been deflected by the corner who was sinking or Tyler would not have gotten his hands on it."
But Kelly went on to go even further, saying Golson may not have even made that throw earlier in Saturday's game. Kelly referenced a Golson pass to T.J. Jones in the end zone that was broken up as something the young quarterback learned from, and showed that growth on the strike to Eifert.
"That learning curve is taking place, series by series," Kelly said. "That throw is something that he's developed into by being out there."
Despite Golson's growing pains, Kelly has maintained throughout the year the first-time starter will keep the No. 1 quarterback role. Rumbles of a quarterback controversy perhaps had some legs after Week 2, but now, it's Golson's gig. Tommy Rees is a safety net, and a luxury few teams attempting to develop a young quarterback have.
When Golson looks off his game, instead of continuing to throw him to the wolves, Notre Dame can insert a guy who has more experience reading defense and knows the ins and outs of the Irish offense. That system hasn't failed Notre Dame yet. But if it does, Kelly doesn't sound like someone who's going to change the course.
"That's the value and the benefit of him playing this year with four seasons of competition," Kelly explained of Golson, again referencing the touchdown to Eifert. "That's what I see and those are the things that keep me moving towards seeing the positive things.
"I know there's others -- he's got to take care of the football, he's got to set his feet. He plays sloppy at times but boy, he competed his butt off (against Stanford). I couldn't be more proud of the guy and the way he competed."