Monaco: Everett Golson, Irish offense show why 2014 is different (Oct. 6)
Mike Monaco | Sunday, October 5, 2014
A low-scoring slog with meager offense and defiant defense.
A rain-soaked blustery October day, and a stadium smattered with colorful ponchos, speckled across the stands like a messy, real-life water coloring.
A turnover-prone and inconsistent Everett Golson.
But with 3:01 to play and the Irish trailing in the second half for the first time this season, 2012 Everett Golson morphed into 2014 Everett Golson. A week after completing 25 consecutive passes, Golson had completed less than 50 percent of his attempts. He had two turnovers. Still, he exuded nothing but confidence.
“I was walking down there and saw Ev and we both just smiled and go, ‘Hey, we score, we win,’” Irish captain Nick Martin said. “We knew what was at stake.”
An unblemished season was on the line — just as it was in 2012. But this time, Golson was ready to do the job. A mid-rotation starter in 2012 who would often give way to closer Tommy Rees, Golson is now the staff ace, ready to throw a complete game on the biggest of stages.
“We’re not going to the bullpen,” Irish head coach Brian Kelly said.
And for the first time in his career, Golson powered the Irish through a two-minute drill. Sixty-five yards on nine plays in two minutes.
“That’s big-boy time,” Golson said.
Golson and the Irish picked up 43 yards to advance to the 22-yard line with less than two minutes remaining. But Notre Dame stared into the rain and could see a game slipping away.
Third-and-7. Golson ran up in the pocket, straight into the back of Steve Elmer, who was being plowed backward. Four-yard loss.
Fourth-and-11. Against the nation’s top-ranked defense. And, still, Golson didn’t flinch.
“I live for moments like that, seriously,” Golson said afterward.
Confident in the huddle and with the ball hanging in his right hand, Golson was tasked with winning the game for the Irish.
“He’s a commanding leader,” sophomore receiver Corey Robinson said. “He knows what he wants to do. And it really brings a lot of confidence to the O-line, the receivers to know that our quarterback knows what he wants to do and knows what he’s gonna do with it and can make a big play whenever we need it.”
Golson grooved a crisp 23-yard strike through the wintry air to a waiting — and waiting — Koyack. As they did in 2012, the officials reviewed a play in the North end zone. And, again, Notre Dame won.
But this time it was different. There’s a different faith in Golson. There’s a different confidence in Notre Dame’s offense.
“It feels pretty different, just because the way it happened,” Golson said. “This is definitely a really big moment for me.”
Not just because it improved Notre Dame to 5-0. Not just because it’ll vault the Irish up the polls. No, Golson proved Notre Dame can win such close games against elite defenses because of its offense, not in spite of its offense.
In only three minutes, Golson and Notre Dame showed why 2014 can be different.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.