Everett Golson Gone
What's Next For ND?
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If any team is built for the loss of a dynamic starting quarterback, it's Notre Dame. If you're going to count out the Irish in 2013, like you probably did in 2012, it's probably not going to be because of the absence of No. 5 - both of them.
With Everett Golson suspended for the fall semester and no longer enrolled at the school, all of a sudden the offense and the team take on a different shape.
This was supposed to be the year when Golson took his game to another level. A terrific baller and playmaker, he might not have been the most efficient passer, completing only 59 percent of his throws, and he might have had coaches and fans doing the "no-no-no-YES" thing when throwing into traffic a bit too much, but he only threw six picks on the season and scrambled and ran his way into big moments. He was expected to become a more complete passer this season under Brian Kelly, while also providing the running and improvisational element the coaching staff was looking for at quarterback.
Now, with Golson out of the equation, the Irish will have to do some scrambling of their own, and they're equipped for it.
First and foremost, this happened in late May and not in late August. Just as if Golson had gone down with some sort of injury, now the team has to adapt and move on, but there's an entire summer and a fall camp to find the right fit. There's plenty of time to figure out what the next move is, and remember, it's not like Golson was the be-all-end-all No. 1 starter with a firm grip on the job and the team. Kelly brought in several top talents over the last few years, and while it would've been nice to have Gunner Kiel around as an option, there are still others waiting in the wings.
Kiel took his talents to Tommy Tuberville and Cincinnati, but Notre Dame still has Tommy Rees – who knows a little something about offseason off-the-field controversy – and has more than enough time logged in to be a capable and effective starter. Two-Minute Tommy has been at his best off the bench in clutch situations, but now a senior, don't discount him taking a step up in his play and consistency if he gets the responsibility of having to take the team on his shoulders. The problem, though, is his penchant to throw the bad interception to go along with his lack of mobility. Kelly wants a dual-threat option, and that's where Andrew Hendrix comes in.
Hendrix, a senior, blew off Florida, Ohio State, Miami and Wisconsin for the Irish, and even though the talent is there to be the face of the program, he hasn't been able to rise above the fray with just 304 career passing yards. Brilliant two years ago in an attempt to bring the team back against Stanford, he finished 2011 with 162 rushing yards with 111 yards against Air Force, he could be the spark with the opportunity there. However, he might have to fight off the new guy.
True freshman Malik Zaire is the X-factor. A terrific dual-threat option, the 6-2, 190-pounder is a smart, accurate passer with great running skills and a way of making things happen on the fly. Kelly isn't above throwing an inexperienced new guy on the field, and at the very least he could be a part of a rotation to get his speed and athleticism into the offense.
But it's going to be more than just the quarterback situation for the Irish. Losing Golson might hurt, but the 2013 team, like the 2012 squad, will mostly work around a tough defense and an opportunistic offense that keeps the mistakes to a minimum and controls the clock and the game. The hope was for Golson to be a catalyst who could start winning big games on his own, and his leadership and confidence are a part of the puzzle, but it's not like USC losing Matt Barkley last season or if Louisville lost Teddy Bridgewater this year – life will go on for Notre Dame without Everett Golson.