It is a general rule in football that if you have two or three quarterbacks, then you really don't have any. In most cases, that rule is true. It is also true that there are exceptions to every rule. The 2012 Notre Dame Fighting Irish might be that exception. That was evident on Saturday against Purdue.
Everett Golson had a really nice game in which he made some great plays with both his arm and legs. He had a throwing and rushing touchdown. He finished with 288 passing yards and no interceptions. After he built a 17-7 lead, he showed that he still needs to develop his game management skills. That is where you read the defense and take what they give you and really work the clock.
That is something that can only be learned through game experience. That is why Brian Kelly turned to Tommy Rees with two minutes to go with the game tied. He needed a guy with experience in that situation. After the game, Coach Kelly said it was due to a minor hand injury to Golson. I laughed at that because anybody who knows football knows better.
I would be willing to bet that after the fumble, Kelly walked up to Golson and said, "it looked like you hurt your hand and it will be hard for you to grip the ball." Golson replies, "I am alright, coach." Coach Kelly says, "No, you hurt it worse than you think."
It was smart for Kelly to say it was a hand injury, but we all know better. He needed a veteran in that situation, and that is why he went to Rees. When I was watching the game, I was noticing that Golson started to look less comfortable in the situation where he needed to manage the clock with the lead.
I was honestly thinking that Kelly should have put Rees in with like six minutes to go. I was thinking that the fans will boo but "Oh Well!" Rees will manage the game and work the clock. It is all hindsight, but if Rees came in sooner, I think Purdue doesn't come back and tie it in the first place.
So what does Notre Dame do about this situation of having two quarterbacks?
I see this as a good thing. The rule of having multiple quarterbacks really doesn't apply here, and here is why. That is a problem when you have half the team and fanbase wanting one guy to be the starter and half wanting the other. In cases in which there are three guys, that is even worse.
Nobody in South Bend is calling for Rees to be the starter. The team understands that Golson is the guy. They also understand that Rees is a guy who can come in in certain situations until Golson is ready for those situations.
Of course, one can argue that Golson will never get better in those situations if Rees always comes in. There is some validity to that, but Kelly knows he has to win this year. Also, it will be observable to all when Golson is more experienced and has the confidence.
Until then, I don't think a two-quarterback system is bad at all for Notre Dame. I do understand that Andrew Hendrix is also there. However, he is really nothing more than a guy to come in and throw a gimmick at the defense. It may make an exciting play, but it will have minimal impact on the game.
The bottom line is that this system can work because it is understood who the starter is and the role of the backup is defined as well.
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