Notre Dame has itself a mini-controversy at quarterback with Everett Golson and Tommy Rees fighting for the starting role. It was Everett Golson's to start the season as Tommy Rees faced suspension for his role in an offseason incident that saw him in a brief scuffle with police officers as he fled a party.
Golson was benched late in last week's game against Purdue after hurting his hand on a fumble, however, and Tommy Rees responded to the opportunity by leading Notre Dame to a game-winning field goal after Purdue tied the game late. Rees was a not-spectacular 3-6 for 35 yards on the drive, but that's not too shabby coming off the bench late in a game.
More importantly, the points were scored and the game was won. That matters.
If Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly trusts Rees at the end of the game, he must certainly be able to trust him at the beginning as well, so it is absolutely not out of the question that this is Rees' team once again.
Still, Brian Kelly says Golson is going to start, according to CBSSports.com. Whether that's good or bad news to Michigan State, though, is not quite as cut and dry.
Why Michigan State Wants to See Everett Golson
Physically, Everett Golson is ready to be a star quarterback. His size isn't ideal at 6'0" and 185 pounds, but you can succeed like that in college football. More importantly, he's got decent speed and very good agility, which helps Notre Dame incorporate option looks and moving pockets into its offense.
And that arm? That arm's legit. Golson's arm strength is probably the best of the team, and unlike most dual-threat quarterbacks, his technique is remarkably sound. That makes for better accuracy and a quicker release, and those things are what separate great dual-threat QBs from... well, let's just say Taylor Martinez, because he's who we'd be describing anyway.
So why would Michigan State prefer Golson behind center? Well, he's a redshirt freshman who's about to encounter his first road environment. And he'll be doing so against Michigan State's defense. Heck of an introduction to road life in big-time college football, eh?
Michigan State's defense thrives on opportunities like these. Just ask Boise State's Joe Southwick about Week 1. Heck, ask Ohio State QB Braxton Miller about 2011—and that start even came in Columbus.
Expect to see the Spartans be aggressive putting pressure on Golson, especially by pairing LB Denicos Allen and DE Will Gholston on the edge and sending both. Also, expect to see the Spartans complicate Golson's pre-snap reads with movement and unconventional coverage looks.
So between a nightmarish pass rush and a back seven that's experienced and versatile enough to disguise coverages, Michigan State would love to see a young, inexperienced QB under center for Notre Dame, regardless of his athleticism or mechanics.
Why Michigan State Wants to See Tommy Rees
Tommy Rees may have a game-winning drive under his belt. He may technically be Notre Dame's returning starter at quarterback, with 12 starts in 2011 and four more as a true freshman. He may be the most experienced, productive QB on Notre Dame's entire roster.
But he's still Tommy Rees.
That's the same Tommy Rees who elicited boos from the Notre Dame faithful before his game-winning drive. The same Tommy Rees who briefly faced a felony charge for his off-field incident before it was reduced to a misdemeanor.
The same Tommy Rees who is as mobile as the chair you're sitting on as you read this. The same Tommy Rees who threw 14 interceptions on the year in 2011 and a hair under seven yards per attempt.
The same Tommy Rees who was benched at halftime in the regular season finale against Stanford. The same Tommy Rees who threw one touchdown in 46 attempts in the Irish's last three games combined. The same Tommy Rees whose red zone failures factored large in Notre Dame's losses against South Florida, Michigan and Florida State.
Yeah, that Tommy Rees. We believe his resume speaks for itself.
On one hand, Michigan State can face an inexperienced dual-threat QB whose athleticism lets Notre Dame incorporate moving pockets and scrambles into its passing game in order to simplify the reads the QB has to make and lessen the potential impact of his youth.
On the other hand, Tommy Rees. Yes, Michigan State would much rather face Tommy Rees.