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Golson shines in first game back

| Saturday, August 30, 2014

Irish fans spent a lot of the offseason holding their breath.

First they wondered who would start under center. Once they found out it was senior Everett Golson, they wondered how he would play.

Golson, who was suspended for the 2013 season due to poor academic judgment, had not played in a game for almost 20 months before Sunday, and there were concerns about whether he would be ready to play against Rice in Week One.

The first two drives ended with three-and-outs,  but on his next opportunity, Golson cut up the middle for an 11-yard touchdown run, the first score of the game. From there, the Irish plowed to 48-17 win.

Apparently, he was ready.

“Obviously, the story of Golson was electric,” Irish head coach Brian Kelly said. “And I thought he did that today extraordinarily well. He came back today and I think really showed the kind of player that he can be.”

Golson was 14-of-22 and passed for 295 yards and two touchdowns. He rushed for touchdowns of 11, 14 and four yards as well.

“It was definitely good,” Golson said. “I was just thankful for my teammates. They came out with a lot of enthusiasm. They played loose and because of that, I think that’s why we were successful.”

Golson also said he had plenty of work left to do.

“I think I needed to polish a lot of things,” Golson said. “That’s what is in my mind now. … I was kind of getting out of the pocket and making plays and having the guy scramble. Definitely going to get the timing down and be more precise.”

Big plays were the name of the game for the Irish, as sophomore receiver Will Fuller and junior receiver C.J. Prosise snagged touchdown catches of 75 and 53 yards, respectively, from Golson.

Senior captain and center Nick Martin said he was pleased with his quarterback’s performance.

“He’s a playmaker, and if we protect him up front, he’s going to make plays,” he said.  “That’s our job. We just follow him, and I know I have to get in front of my man to give him as much time as possible.”

Golson’s first game was about as successful as the Irish could have hoped. Golson showed how far he had come since returning in the spring, Kelly said.

“He didn’t do a very good job in the spring game,” Kelly said. “I thought he showed a lack of discipline, and he’s earned it through camp that just said, ‘Let you go play.’ I think he earned that right for us to give him that opportunity to get out there and make plays on the perimeter.”

As Golson and the Irish close the book on a successful home opener, they turn their attention to the heated rivalry with Michigan for next week’s matchup. Golson said he already is eager to focus on the Wolverines.

“We’ve got to prepare for Michigan just like we did for Rice,” Golson said. “I don’t think I get into all of the hype of the game and things like that. But at the same time, you have to take care of business and you have to prepare. Michigan’s got a great football team. It’s going to be a tough one, but I’m ready for it.”

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