Tuesday, May 19, 2015

How Everett Golson's Decision Is Good For Notre Dame and Florida State

It's official. After deciding to leave Notre Dame following graduation, Everett Golson has decided to join the team in which he had arguably his best game against last season. That of course is the Florida State Seminoles. It is decision that really shapes up to be good for both programs.

Let's start with Notre Dame. Coach Kelly was set to faced with an incredibly difficult decision. Golson or Malik Zaire. It would have been a decision that could have defined his legacy at Notre Dame. It is also one that could have created a divided locker room. On one hand, you have the guy who has thrown for a ton of yards and even helped you go to the BCS Title Game as a Freshman. But he also had his issues with turnovers. Then you have the young upstart who will be there for the next three seasons. In spite of the fact that he has limited experience and is a little erratic throwing the ball at times, he just seems to make plays on the field.

We will never know who would have won that competition as it is now a moot point. But I think that Golson knew that regardless of who won, they would split time. Being that it is his Senior year, you can understand why he would want nothing to do with that. Now Notre Dame can go into camp with Zaire as the undisputed starter and will get all the reps in practice. That in itself is huge in the development of a quarterback.

For Florida State, the departure of Jameis Winston left a huge gap. Sean Maguire  really didn't impress anybody in the spring and they don't want to rush De'Andre Johnson. So it is apparent that they needed a stop gap guy for one year. Technically, Golson and Maguire will compete for the job, but I think it is fair to say that Golson is the front runner by far.

On paper, this makes sense for Golson. His best games over his career has been against the ACC. Who can forget his great effort in a comeback against Pittsburgh, his lighting up Wake Forest on Senior Day, his 39 straight completions against Syracuse, and of course his great game against Florida State themselves. The only issue is can Golson learn the playbook fast enough. But being that they open with a couple of cream puffs in Texas State and South Florida, that might buy him a little extra time.

Notre Dame and Florida State are not scheduled to play next season but that can all change with the new playoff system. It would be fun to see.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Everett Golson Makes The Smartest Decision He Could Have

As much as Notre Dame fans wanted to see Everett Golson come back to Notre Dame for his senior season, deep down very few felt that it would probably be in his best personal interests. With the emergence of Malik Zaire late last season, it was clear that Golson would have to fight to remain the starter after watching Zaire be the MVP of the Music City Bowl.

That's not to say that he would not have beaten Zaire in the competition. He very well might have. But that is a gamble that he knew he just could not take. Golson had a great spring and looked good in the Spring Game. But Zaire was just a little better as he was in last year's spring game as well as the bowl game.

But even if Golson were to have won back the starting job, there is little doubt that Zaire was still going to have an increased role. The question of whether a two quarterback system could work was debated up to now. But a better question would have been would either quarterback have wanted anything to do with that? The answer from both guys was clearly no.

That would have left Coach Brian Kelly with an incredibly tough decision. He would have had to choose from the more experienced and polished Golson or the young phenom that just seems to make plays.

But looking at it from a practical perspective, Kelly was probably ultimately going to go with Zaire. The fact that the two of them were so close almost seems like you have to go with the guy that will be there for the next three seasons. As great as Golson was at times for Notre Dame, he did have his mistakes too and you really would expect a senior to be well ahead of an underclassmen, but he wasn't.

That really left Golson with just one option if he wants a long term future playing football. He had to go somewhere else where he would have a guaranteed opportunity to start. There are plenty of schools that make sense. Miami of Ohio is coached by Chuck Martin and he could really dominate the MAC. He could dominate the Big Ten if he went to Michigan. How about Oregon or Florida State with their big name quarterbacks now in the NFL?

All those schools seem viable but it is looking like he is going to the SEC to play for either South Carolina or Georgia. There he will have a legendary coach in either Steve Spurrier or Mark Richt. I still think LSU is a possibility. But whatever Golson decides, I will root for that team as long as they are not playing Notre Dame.

Good Luck Everett Golson and thank you.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Absolutely Nothing Gets Settled In QB Duel at Blue-Gold Game

All the focus on the offseason for Notre Dame has been who would be the starter at quarterback for the 2015 season. We have Everett Golson who in spite of all the turnover problems has shown ability to make big throws with the game on the line. Then we have Malik Zaire who sat most of the year but started the Music City Bowl against LSU and was named MVP. However, Golson also played a big role in that game too.

So the idea of who would be the quarterback is really up in the air. In past years Coach Kelly has said that, but we all knew who it would be. This year we really don't know. And nobody expected to think we would know that after the annual spring game but that maybe we would have a better idea.

But that would not be the case at all as each quarterback really looked good in the first half. For what it is worth, Golson started. I am not even going to get into their stats because it is a practice game and being that both guys had big plays called back due to penalties, and that the only interception came on a gimmick fan called play "The Inebriated Irishman," the stats really give a skewed picture.

What you can say is that both QBs opened up with touchdown drives. Golson had one running and Zaire had a toss to Justin, I like to date porn stars, Brent. Kelly really had Golson work more on the option and Zaire on throwing. Zaire also had a great throw on a long bomb to Will Fuller. Golson had some really nice runs along with Tarean Folston and CJ Proiese.

Really nothing was close to being settled because both were good. I am thinking right now I can make a case for both. Of course, Golson could still use the transfer option and that makes it easy.

If I am making a case for Golson it is this. Yes he had a turnover problem but many were due to poor line play and he really seems to have corrected it and has had a great spring. The line also looks better. This is also a guy that led the Irish to an undefeated regular season in 2012 as a freshman. It is his Senior year and he is determined to leave his mark at Notre Dame.

But I can make an equally good case for Zaire. Yes, he is a little inconsistent throwing but that will improve with experience. Also, it doesn't really seem to matter if he makes a bad throw because he will get it back with a great run on the next play. Plus, he can be the QB for the next 3 seasons and that is huge as well.

Tough decision for Coach Kelly, I am glad I don't have to make it.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Everett Golson To LSU Would Certainly Be Interesting

And so the drama starts. Earlier this week there was a report that Everett Golson was interested in transferring to LSU. As it always goes, Golson and his people denied it. But there will be rumors like this all offseason. Golson along with Ohio State's Braxton Miller could be the missing piece for a team that is otherwise looking ready for a title run. LSU certainly fits that profile as they have arguably the best defense in the SEC and an outstanding young runner in Leonard Fournette. But they are weak at the quarterback position. It's no wonder that both Golson and Miller have been rumored to go there.

With all the schools out there, the odds of him ending up at LSU are probably slim. But let's just humor ourselves for a little bit. I can certainly see why LSU would be interested in Golson. He made some big passes in the Music City Bowl despite limited playing time. He is on the one who engineered the late drive that led to the game winning field goal. That was after taking a vicious hit that required a shot at halftime.

I can also certainly see why Golson would be interested in LSU. He will have a great line which will help with the turnover problem. He will have a great defense and an explosive back. The Tigers would immediately be set up to be a contender in the SEC and also for the playoff. The only problem is that they would be set up for one year as that is all Golson has left. That would require Golson to learn a new offense in a very short time. That is not easy.

It would also place a lot of attention on Notre Dame and Brian Kelly. Although Malik Zaire was very impressive in the Music City Bowl with the plays he made, he really was more of a running threat than he was passing. He had less than 100 yards passing and most of his throws were safe. Kelly would be letting a big name like Golson get away for a prospect who has a lot of potential. Zaire certainly has potential but potential means you have done nothing yet. That is definitely a risk.

Can you imagine if LSU makes the Playoff with Golson and Notre Dame is in another Music City or Pinstripe Bowl? Kelly would certainly have a lot to answer for there. At the same time, if Golson were to struggle at LSU and Notre Dame made the Playoff or even New Year's Six with Zaire, Kelly would look like a genius.

Golson to LSU probably will not become a reality, but it certainly would create drama if it did.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Everett Golson Will Explore His Options

One of the most interesting stories for the offseason not only for Notre Dame but all of college football will be the decision of Everett Golson. After the Music City Bowl, he stated that his immediate plans are to return to Notre Dame for the spring semester in which he will graduate in May. After that he is unsure. He basically has three options. He can remain at Notre Dame, transfer, or enter the NFL Draft. It will not be an easy choice for him as each one has risk and reward. Let's look at those choices.

Option #1-Stay at Notre Dame

As a Notre Dame fan, I hope he picks this one. After watching that Music City Bowl, it appears to many that Coach Brian Kelly has decided to give the ball to Malik Zaire as the regular quarterback. However, Kelly can never be predicted and I am not sure that it is as set in stone as it would appear. Zaire did get most of the snaps in the Music City Bowl, but I am not sure that would have been the case if Golson hadn't taken that vicious hit in the second quarter. He had to take a halftime shot for that.

Also, Zaire had less than 100 yards throwing and most of his passes were short and safe. It was Golson who hit most of the deep passes and especially on that critical last drive. So I am not convinced at all that Kelly has it set in his mind that Zaire is the main guy going forward.

I do think that Kelly wants to use more of a two quarterback system with the two. While the old adage is that if you have two you have none, there are exceptions and this is one of them. Golson is the veteran but only has a year left. Zaire has a lot of skill but is still raw. Each is different. When Golson is in, it seems like he is trying to do everything himself where as when Zaire is in, it appears like you have 11 guys working together.

Golson does need to learn that being a leader doesn't mean doing everything himself. Kelly said that two years ago he was riding the bus but driving it this year. Well, he looked like a good driver at times, other times he looked afraid to get behind the wheel, and other times he looked like he was driving drunk. Consistency is an issue but that gets back to using your teammates.

Maybe with a two quarterback system he will be more relaxed.

Option #2-NFL Draft

I still haven't heard his draft grade, but I only advise quarterbacks to come out early if they are a likely first day pick. With Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston out there, I am not seeing it. I really think the turnovers would rub the NFL teams the wrong way. They want to see him clean that up first.

Option #3-Transfer

Earlier I said as a Notre Dame fan, I hope he stays. But if I were advising him, I am not sure if that is in his best interests. I have no doubt that the two quarterback system can work. I am not questioning that at all. What I am questioning is whether Golson should want anything to do with it. Transferring in his last season did wonders for Russell Wilson. NFL teams will scratch their heads though on a guy who split time his senior year. So being that he is graduating and will not have to sit, it might be smart to look at this.

He will have to learn a new system quick so it might be advisable to pick a school that he has some familiar faces. One school that immediately stands out is Miami of Ohio. He is familiar with Chuck Martin. Although the team was not good, Andrew Hendirx had a good year throwing for them. There is no reason to believe that Golson can't do really well there. Another choice that makes since is Connecticut. He knows Bob Diaco and I am sure the OC is someone he is familiar with. Another choice might be Northwestern as Tommy Rees who was a good mentor to Golson is there now.

Those are his options and it will be interesting to see what he decides.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Notre Dame's Big Win Over LSU Was Just The Beginning of Huge SEC West Downfall

When Notre Dame made the decision to play LSU in the Music City Bowl, I am sure that starting a streak of losses for the SEC West was the last thing they were worried about. After a season that began so strong but ended in a big collapse, ending on a positive note was the only thing the Fighting Irish was worried about.

Nonetheless, Notre Dame and their fans have had to deal with what all other college football teams and their fans have to deal with. That is constantly listening to ESPN talk about how great the SEC is. Nobody can deny the impressive run they have had. However, I find it especially irritating that they schedule lots of FCS team and are never held accountable for it. That is especially true for the SEC West. The SEC East at least has end of season rivals with the ACC.

For years the conference has gotten away with that and we still hear how their schedules are so tough. This season was a little different as there was the perception that the SEC West had actually separated itself from the SEC East and was dominant in all of college football. The Playoff committee clearly showed SEC West bias in the early polls before they ultimately did get it right.

Notre Dame and all college football fans grew tired of hearing about the "mighty SEC West." Ironically when the bowl season began it looked like the entire SEC would just dominate once again. South Carolina from the East defeated Miami in the Independence Bowl. Texas A & M from the West defeated West Virginia in the Liberty Bowl. That same day Arkansas from the West destroyed Texas in the Texas Bowl.

Next game Notre Dame's great win over LSU. That did not look like a streak would be created though because that same day Georgia from the East crushed Louisville in the Belk Bowl. At that point, the conference as a whole was looking good as they were 4-1. The East was 2-0 and the mighty West was 2-1.

Ironically since then the East picked up another victory via Missouri over Minnesota in the Citrus Bowl. The SEC East is 3-0 so far with a chance for their division to go unbeaten. Tennessee will be favored over Iowa in the Taxslayer Bowl and Florida can end on a positive note against ECU in the Birmingham Bowl. But for the supposed superior West, the Notre Dame win created a streak that let's just say has made it a bad three days for the "best division in all of college football."

TCU crushed Ole Miss in the Peach Bowl.

Georgia Tech kept in going against Mississippi State in the Orange Bowl.

Wisconsin shocked Auburn in the Outback Bowl.

But the biggest blow of all was Ohio State over Alabama in the Sugar Bowl/Playoff Semifinal.

So although they didn't plan it that way, Notre Dame began something big. The SEC West had a belief that they were just better than the rest of college football, but the rest of college football would have none of it. It kind of reminded me when Hitler had this belief that Germans were the master race but Jessie Owens came in and won all those Gold medals and blew his theory out the door. What these wins showed is that the SEC West is simply not superior to anybody in college football. They lost to the Big 10, ACC, Big 12, and the Independent that started it all. Maybe next year the committee won't show such bias in the early polls.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Notre Dame Proves Me Wrong and Shocks LSU

I am not sure where to start on this one. I have never been more happy to be wrong. Going into this, I really was not excited to watch. I thought that it was a mistake to accept this match up. I thought that it would be ugly and look bad for Notre Dame. Well as it turns out, this just might be the biggest win in Coach Kelly's tenure.

One of my biggest concerns was the defense. With the injuries and Brian VanGorder's tendency to non-stop blitz, I thought the Tigers would run all over them. It was a good surprise to see that the Irish got back to a simple front with good tackling and not allowing the big play. Only twice did they allow a big play. Both were touchdowns, but for them to only give up three scores to an SEC team is pretty impressive. I was very impressed with the fact that the defense gave up nothing in the 4th quarter. Bend but don't break defense may not be as fun or as exciting, but it is better fundamental defense. I hope VanGorder learned something.

Now getting to the story of the game. Kelly made a bold and risky decision to start Malik Zaire over Everett Golson. Make no mistake about it, Zaire looked really good. He threw a touchdown on his first drive and also ran another one in. He showed his mobility by adding 96 yards running. The ESPN commentators made sound as if the team is moving on from Golson.

But I am not so sure about that and here is why. Zaire only had 96 passing yards and most of his throws were very safe. The play calling in the second half was very conservative. When the team needed to throw downfield, Golson was brought in. With the game one the line and the team needing a long drive to get the field goal, it was Golson who was brought in to complete those big passes. In very limited duty Golson did a very nice job and had 90 big yards passing. It was clear that in spite of all the turnovers, Kelly still had more confidence in Golson with the game on the line.

Even in his post game interview, Kelly said that Zaire did a nice job of what they asked him to do. That means that who will be the quarterback next season is not as clear cut as ESPN was making it sound. It will be an interesting spring and this year's Blue-Gold game might be the biggest one ever.

One thing I really liked about Zaire is that he didn't try to do everything himself. He realized he has 10 other guys out there. The line played better with him in there and the offense as a unit looked more like a unit rather than just one guy trying to do everything. Maybe that could be a learning point for Golson that he doesn't have to do everything.

It will also be interesting to see what Golson decides to do. He clearly will not have the same role with the team next year. At the very least, he will have to split time. Can a two quarterback system work? Absolutely! It worked in the bowl game and Kelly made it work at Cincinnati. The better question is will Golson want any part of that?

Sharing time will affect his numbers and that cannot help his NFL prospects. He might want to transfer. Miami of Ohio could be an attractive place. Chuck Martin is there and Andrew Hendrix had a great year there even though the team did not. The next few weeks will be interesting.

Regardless of who is playing quarterback next season, I definitely feel a lot better now. All the injured and suspended players will return. That can only make the defense more deep. I can't wait for next season.

In closing, I just want to congratulate Tommy Rees on getting a job at Northwestern. I know he will be a great coach there.