Notre Dame unit preview: Quarterbacks

Notre Dame unit preview: Quarterbacks
July 24, 2014, 5:00 pm
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In six words or less: Brian Kelly finally has his quarterback

Projected starter: Everett Golson
Rising up the depth chart: Malik Zaire
Arrivals: DeShone Kizer
Departures: Tommy Rees, Andrew Hendrix

Looking back

Notre Dame didn't need Everett Golson to make a whole lot of plays in 2012 with one of the nation's best defenses buoying a run to the BCS Championship. The combination of Golson's inexperience and the still-healing scars of 2011's turnover-filled 8-5 season led Notre Dame to be fairly conservative with Golson, who only threw six interceptions in 12 games.

[MORE: Tommy Rees leaves Notre Dame with head held high]

The results were good: Notre Dame's offensive F/+ improved from 22nd to 9th with Golson quarterbacking the team in 2012, then regressed to 24th with Rees re-assuming his starting role in 2013. Granted, the solid 1-2 running back punch of Theo Riddick and Cierre Wood helped pace Notre Dame's offense in 2012, but it's not a coincidence Brian Kelly's best offense at Notre Dame was with Golson at the helm.

2014 outlook

Last year was supposed to be Golson's breakout, but that was derailed in late May when the quarterback was booted from campus for the fall semester for, as he initially called it, "poor academic judgment." So after a stint in San Diego with quarterback guru George Whitfield, Golson is back at Notre Dame and is primed to be unleashed in the Irish offense.

[MORE: Previewing the crucial games on Notre Dame's schedule]

Golson is the kind of playmaking quarterback Kelly has wanted ever since he left Cincinnati for Notre Dame. His strong arm, good instincts outside the pocket and ability to run read option plays make him a dynamic threat, someone who gives Notre Dame a chance to win games with its offense. The script is flipped from two years ago: If Notre Dame is going to make any noise this year, it'll have to win some shootouts instead of relying on its defense.

While Malik Zaire may push for playing time, it'd be a surprise if Golson isn't starting Notre Dame's opener against Rice.

They said it

"We can't go down to Florida State and hope to win 10-7. We're going to have to put some points on the board." -- Brian Kelly

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