While we can label Everett Golson's first game under center for the Fighting Irish a success, let's not get ahead of ourselves.
Golson's performance was solid, completing 12-of-18 passes for 144 yards with a touchdown and an interception. But that was with a limited playbook and the offensive line opening holes that you could drive a tank through, leading to the Irish picking up nearly 300 yards on the ground.
Against Purdue, it won't be quite that easy.
The Boilermakers are going to stack eight men in the box to try to shut down the two-headed running attack of Theo Riddick and George Atkinson III, forcing Golson to beat them with his arm.
Irish coach Brian Kelly gave Golson a limited playbook against Navy by design. That playbook needs to be opened up and Golson needs to prove that not only can he find open receivers and make accurate throws, but that he can do it on a consistent basis.
If he can do that against Purdue, the Boilermakers will have to drop back into coverage, giving Atkinson and Reddick more room to run.
But that's only part of the evolution that needs to occur this week.
Golson isn't a traditional pocket passer—he's got a set of wheels on him.
Purdue is going to bring pressure up the middle with a pair of incredibly talented defensive tackles in Kawann Short and Bruce Gaston—a pair that Kelly called the best Notre Dame would see all season in comments to Irish Illustrated.
If Gaston and/or Short is able to get into the backfield, Golson needs to show that he can not only evade the pass rush, but turn a busted play into positive yardage with his legs. No doubt Kelly will implement some bootleg plays this weekend to give him more options.
It comes down to decision-making and execution, and those are things that can only get better with experience.
Golson needs to take the next step forward in his development if the Irish plan on claiming the Shillelagh Trophy for the fourth consecutive season.
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