Notre Dame Mailbag: Answers on Irish Signal-Callers, Controversy, and Defense

Adam KramerNational College Football Lead WriterOctober 13, 2012

Oct 13, 2012; South Bend, IN, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish wide receiver T.J. Jones (7) is congratulated by teammates after scoring the winning touchdown against the Stanford Cardinal at Notre Dame Stadium. Notre Dame defeats Stanford in overtime 20-13. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE
Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE

The undefeated Notre Dame Fighting Irish are on an absolute roll, and their 20-13 overtime win at home against Stanford is one you’re going to hear about for a while for a variety of reasons.

The quarterback? The controversy? And, oh this defense which you might be familiar with. 

We tackle it all in mailbag form. Let’s get right to it.


What's latest on Everett Golson's health? 

Notre Dame starting quarterback Everett Golson took a shot to the head late in the game, and he was out for a good chunk of the fourth quarter and all of overtime. This, of course, is something to look out for in the coming days, and we likely won’t know the severity of the head injury (or any other ailments) until early next week.

It was quite a hit, however, and while we won’t pretend to play doctor, it was enough for the Notre Dame medical staff to keep him out for the rest of the game. Head injuries are obviously evaluated much more seriously these days, which is a good thing, so we won’t know his status for a while.

In other words, stay tuned. More details will be released soon enough.


Which quarterback gives Irish the best chance to make the BCS?

That’s tough, although Tommy Rees has been very impressive when called upon. Golson has flashes of brilliance and he’s a tremendous athlete, but he’s also a liability (at times) for the Irish.

His fumble while trying to pick up a few extra yards instead of going out of bounds against Stanford could’ve cost this team a victory, and I was surprised to see Brian Kelly not go to Rees before Golson got injured. 

The best player on the team when a player is struggling is always the backup. This is the nature of college football, although that doesn’t necessarily mean going with Rees is the answer. Rees does, however, have more games under his belt and has provided a spark when called upon, and I would probably lean in his favor.

To deflect on the answer…can the defense play quarterback? That would be just swell.


Are we more or less confident in Golson after the Stanford game?

I’ve been waiting for Golson to step up his play over the past few games, and he just has not done it. He’s not playing terribly, but he’s also not improving like many would have hoped. His pocket presence is still questionable at times, and he still hangs onto the ball a little too long.

I'm certainly not more confident in his ability. He hasn’t regressed—a word we love to use with quarterbacks—but he has not taken that next step.

Have my high hopes for him wavered a bit? Perhaps slightly, but he’s still immensely talented.


Should Rees start against Oklahoma?

A home game against BYU is still in the way—and the Irish better not sleep on this team—but the surging Sooners will welcome Notre Dame on October 27. Talk about a game with BCS ramifications.

And so…about that quarterback position we’ve been talking about?

I think a lot of this depends on the health of Golson and whether he’s able to go next week. BYU has one of the best defenses in the country, and whoever gets the nod will have his work cut out for him. This will be a showcase of sorts.

This doesn’t so much depend on our confidence, but Brian Kelly’s, and it also might be an easier decision depending on how Golson’s head checks out. Tommy Rees will be a popular name this week, however, and something tells me we will see him taking more snaps soon. 


Switching gears, can linebacker Manti Te’o win the Heisman?

Well, this will be a tall order, but Geno Smith at least brought the race for the award down to earth with West Virginia’s loss at Texas Tech. There’s no questioning just how important Te’o is for this team, and I believe he deserves and will get Heisman votes. With that said, he’ll have a hard time winning it, though.

If West Virginia loses a few more games and Collin Klein and Braxton Miller somehow come back down to earth, then he has a shot. Unlikely, but he still has a fighting chance to get to New York City.


Just how good is this Notre Dame defense?


Notre Dame's defense is unreal. Still hasn't allowed a touchdown since Week 2, capped by a goal line stand in overtime.

— Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) October 13, 2012


It’s not just good; it’s exceptional. We heard a lot of concerns about the secondary heading into the season, and thus far it hasn’t been tested. It likely won’t be tested against BYU, but playing at Oklahoma is a different story. 

Still, this front seven is one of the best in the nation, and this unit as a whole is one of the best we’ll see in 2012. Also, what a stop on fourth down in overtime to win the game against Stanford.


About that, didn’t it look like Stanford scored?

Well, to be honest, yes. Stanford running back Stepfan Taylor did not touch the ground (his elbow was close), and he looked to be on top of bodies when he crossed. It was ruled that his progress had been stopped, which is why it wasn’t overturned in the review. Like the quarterback situation, I’m glad I'm not the one to have to make this call.

If it had been called a touchdown on the field, it probably would have stayed as such. Really, really close play, but you could make a great case that this should have been a touchdown. Doesn’t matter, though. No touchdown was the call.