We all know the Notre Dame Fighting Irish defense didn't look elite against Alabama in the national championship game. But that fact took some of the attention off how pedestrian the passing game had been all season.
If the Irish want to improve, it needs to start with the offense and that means improvement from Everett Golson.
I cut Golson, a first-year starter, tons of slack last season. But after a full season and offseason to improve and mature, 2013 should be markedly better for him.
I know Brian Kelly still has Tommy Rees and Andrew Hendrix at his disposal, but the Irish will be at their best if Golson can prove the team doesn't need a quarterback-by-committee approach.
He can start proving that to fans and coaches at the Blue-Gold spring game on Saturday.
Golson will never be a prototypical pocket passer, but with a year of experience under his belt, I fully expect him to have a much better grasp of the playbook.
He has the arm strength to make all of the throws Kelly's system would require him to make. He also possesses the athleticism and improvisational talent to make plays with his legs the other quarterbacks can't.
For Golson, it is all about decision-making and confidence.
In 2012, he completed just 58 percent of his passes. He was especially mediocre on third downs. Per CFBStats.com, Golson completed just 49.4 percent of his throws in this crucial situation.
On Saturday, coaches and fans will be watching how he performs on third downs intensely. This year, obvious passing downs could be even more difficult without Tyler Eifert and Theo Riddick as safety blankets.
Per CFBStats.com, those two had more third-down receptions than any other Irish receivers. Golson will be charged with building chemistry with other teammates.
The Irish defense should still be a solid unit again in 2013, but the team can't afford to put as much pressure on them as they did in 2012.
Golson has to lead the offense and they must be more efficient through the air. We'll see if he shows any signs of improvement on Saturday.
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