Throughout the digital landscape, hoards of Notre Dame fans have been imploring for the Irish to turn to former 5-star prospect Gunner Kiel at quarterback. This is asinine due to the actuality that a proven, elite quarterback other than Kiel is already on the depth chart.
That quarterback is Everett Golson. A kinetic, shifty, 6'0" 185 pound playmaker who led the Irish to the 2013 BCS National Championship Game.
The Myrtle Beach, S.C., native was the anxiously awaited replacement of former starting quarterback Tommy Rees. Rees resembled nothing more than a statue in the pocket, giving fans every reason to clamor for Golson's mobility.
Five months after being named to one of the most prestigious positions in the world of sports, Golson has compiled an 11-1 record—he missed a victory against BYU due to post-concussion symptoms—and has driven the Irish to their first appearance in college football's title game in 24 years.
If those feats aren't impressive enough, consider that 2012 was Golson's freshman season in terms of athletic eligibility—he redshirted as an academic freshman in 2011.
And having played in a high school offense that resembled nothing more than a few plays drawn up in the sand, Golson began his first season as a starter still drinking from a fire hose in a sense, but was given small chunks of the playbook to work with.
Head coach Brian Kelly drew up simple slants, fades and curls that set up easy throws for Golson.
As the season progressed, Golson began to understand how to effectively use his mobility to his advantage, after beginning the season following his high school instincts of attempting to create something out of nothing.
Through his first five starts—all Notre Dame victories—Golson rushed for 81 net yards, compared to 217 in his final six starts, including the Irish's 42-14 loss to Alabama in the title game.
That 136-yard improvement was a direct indication of Golson possessing a more broad grasp of Kelly's offense.
Not only did Golson rapidly improve as a rusher, but he made significant strides as a passer, particularly in terms of efficiency and turnovers.
In his final six starts of the 2012 season, Golson completed 108 of 183 passing attempts for 1,260 yards and seven touchdowns compared to just three interceptions. What should be noted is that Golson averaged 11.67 yards per completion during that stretch, meaning that his improved rushing numbers didn't detract from his efficiency as a passer.
After digesting those figures, take a moment to remember that Golson was in his first season as a starting quarterback without even a single rep of experience prior to 2012.
The career of four year starting quarterbacks at the collegiate level are, more often than not, a gradually rising arc in terms of statistics. That rise is a general indication of a more crisp understanding of the game, specific situations and a firm grasp of the playbook.
Golson may not have a meteoric statistical improvement in 2013, but he will produce enough to improve an offense that finished the 2012 season tied with New Mexico for 78th nationally in scoring at 25.77 points per game.
And along with a defense that will be equally, if not more dominant than its 2012 version, expect a more well-rounded team in 2013, led by a quarterback that will now be considered "elite."
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