Notre Dame may be undefeated and a Top 5 team in the current BCS rankings, but it has been a roller coaster ride to get to this point. There have been a few controversial calls, a couple of overtime games and many last-second drives to keep those national championship dreams alive.
The only consistent thing about this season for the program is that two quarterbacks are going to see the field at some point in each game.
Whether it is because Notre Dame has a big lead or starter Everett Golson makes another mistake, quarterback Tommy Rees will see playing time in the game against Boston College on Saturday at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.
After all, Rees has thrown the ball at least once in seven of the first nine matchups.
It has nothing to do with how far along Golson is coming because, honestly, the young signal-caller is improving before our very eyes and getting better each week. It has more to do with the fact that this is the system that has been in place all season long, and Rees will be needed for the remainder of the year for this team to continue to succeed.
Sure, Notre Dame should give the Eagles the beatdown of their lives in Alumni Stadium, but this is an Irish club that needed three overtimes to earn a win over Pittsburgh.
Golson is looking more and more like the starting quarterback of the future, but Rees has been there to help him mature and overcome his mistakes on the football field. He has also been the one that has stepped up in tight situations, bailed this offense out and led this team to victories down the stretch.
According to J.J.Stankevitz of CSN Chicago, head coach Brian Kelly does feel more comfortable letting Golson play though mistakes, which he didn't allow him to do before and often pulled him out of games after a bad decision.
"We're getting close to playing through it because of what he did in the second half," Kelly said last weekend. "I don't think we could have done that earlier in the year, quite frankly. I think when we took him out (in September), he was done. He was just mentally done. He was not mentally done (against Pitt) … he's closer to getting to that level where let's just keep fighting through it, because we saw him respond with that competitiveness in the fourth quarter and overtime."
While that may sound like even less playing time for Rees, the junior still needs to keep that arm fresh for those situations that get sticky. No matter how far along Golson has come over the last few weeks, he is still a first-year player and will continue to make rookie errors while he continues to grow.
This is something that Kelly is still learning to deal with, as the Chicago Tribune reported.
It'll be driven by the quarterback, by his consistent play, by his decision making, by his athleticism. Certainly if you take the last quarter in overtime, I think Everett (Golson) contributed 75-percent of our offense. So that quarterback will be the one that drives it; he'll have athleticism; he'll have the ability to throw the football. He's a freshman. I'm reminded of it every single day.
Should Brian Kelly continue to use a two-quarterback system for the rest of the year?
Rees has helped by stepping up for this team in multiple situations already this year. Games against Purdue, Michigan, Stanford, BYU and Pittsburgh all were helped won by last year’s starter. And with a tough road game ahead against USC and a likely BCS bowl game against a tough opponent, his experience should continue to pay off for this football team at the quarterback position.
Notre Dame can begin focusing on who the full-time starter is going to be next year. A two-quarterback system has gotten the Irish this far, has helped Golson mature and has led to the most successful season for Notre Dame in recent memory.
Now is certainly not the time to stop it, especially with two of the biggest games on the schedule left to be played.
There is no quarterback controversy in South Bend. Coach Kelly is just pulling the right strings at the right moments. And while Golson is slowly becoming the quarterback that Irish fans had hoped for, Rees will still be there to help when needed.