Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Notre Dame's by-default quarterback decision

I've been skeptical since spring (when Brian Kelly was saying very ominous things about eliminating any experience-related advantages) that Tommy Rees would end up as Notre Dame's very tentative starting quarterback going into the season. He will not:
Notre Dame will have a new starting quarterback when it kicks off the 2012 season.

Incumbent signal-caller Tommy Rees and linebacker Carlo Calabrese both have been suspended for the Irish's Sept. 1 opener against Navy in Dublin, Ireland, coach Brian Kelly announced Tuesday. Neither player will travel for the game.

Both players were arrested May 3 outside an off-campus party.
Cease speculation. Somebody other than Tommy Rees (probably Everett Golson) will be starting against Navy and probably making Brian Kelly's face do this:

Like I wasn't gonna include that. Psshht.

Anyway, I say "probably Everett Golson" because his spring-game performance (11 of 15 for 120 yards and two touchdowns to go along with 25 yards rushing) convinced all Notre Dame fans everywhere that he's the greatest thing since mass. As I pointed out afterward, he's also never taken a snap in an actual game, which means all those infuriating turnovers from the past couple years will totally/definitely/absolutely go away this year!

There was also a minor play-clock thing in the Blue-Gold game that was easily fixable at the time but won't be so easily fixable in games in which Kelly doesn't control the clock:
He had so many delay of game penalties that the play clock had to be turned off.
That sounds entertaining and not at all infuriating. There will be face purple-ness and there will be a point at which Golson takes a seat because of either (a) total unpreparedness in terms of game management or (b) the inconsistency that accompanies all freshman-like starters and will be exacerbated by a schedule that gets horrifying after the first two weeks; after Navy and Purdue, the schedule goes at Michigan State, Michigan, Miami, Stanford, BYU, at Oklahoma, etc.

I'm also not convinced Golson is better than Rees was for an offense that's based on a four-verticals, downfield-oriented passing game rather than the read-option and whatnot, but I gotta cede that decision to Kelly and actual on-field happenings; Vince Young and Cam Newton made a lot of things work after they figured out what they were doing (disclaimer: I'm not saying he is either of those guys but am saying that Kelly would probably like to find out if he could be either of those guys).

With that said, I do think Rees will end up getting snaps this year (either that or transferring if he gets bumped to third string behind Golson and Andrew Hendrix, in some order). But it won't be right away, which means the experience and learning he's accumulating via two years of eventfulness probably won't be of any use unless/until Notre Dame's offense (and thus season) has hit a desperation point or the first game is such a debacle on offense that Kelly has no legitimate alternative.

It's all on Golson (and/or Hendrix after him). No pressure or anything.

Closing item that serves as potentially optimistic caveat: An August 1 decision that nobody really expected until September 1 means a crapload of snaps and similarly relevant preparation for Golson, which should help mitigate some of the aforementioned issues and have him a lot more ready than he would've been if he'd have been splitting snaps with two or three guys for the next month (although I'm sure Hendrix will get some, too); it seems safe to assume Rees will get bumped down the depth chart since he's not a candidate to start the opener. So there's that.


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