Everett Golson was supposed to be the problem in the BCS National Championship, holding back a Notre Dame team that featured a brilliant front seven on both sides of the ball. Turns out, the tables were turned, with those vaunted big men getting dominated while Golson proved to be a true talent at quarterback.
Golson has certainly had his share of ups and downs this season, and Monday was without question a down. Getting blown out by 28 points is certainly never a highlight, but Golson can hardly be blamed.
Golson did not allow 265 rushing yards. Golson did not give up 264 passing yards on just 28 attempts. No, it was the vaunted Irish defense that failed to get a single sack, that gave up over seven yards per play, that failed to force a turnover.
Unlike the defense, Golson had a performance he can look back on and be proud of. Against the nation's best defense, Golson threw for 270 yards and a touchdown (and an interception). The numbers aren't bad, Golson's performance defies numbers and scores.
Notre Dame's offense struggled due to play-calling, poor blocking and a lack of team speed.
Nearly every passing play was directed at the sideline. Patrick Dougherty noticed as much, tweeting:
Does Notre Dame have passing plays that don't require making toe-tapping sideline catches?
— Patrick Daugherty(@RotoPat) January 8, 2013
Seriously though, the Irish did not bother to attack the middle of the field at all. Golson was forced to make tough throws all night, and he actually responded pretty well considering.
Secondly, the offensive line failed to protect Golson. While he was only sacked twice, he was on the run throughout the game. Now, part of this was his own fault, as he was occasionally indecisive, and he lacked the speed to outrun the faster Alabama defenders.
Similarly, the Irish offensive line failed to open up running lanes for a running game that averaged just 1.7 yards per carry. Theo Riddick and Cierre Wood combined for 14 carries for just 39 yards.
With no running game to speak of and receivers failing to get open, Golson was working with nearly impossible odds. And while he didn't do enough to win the game, nobody could have.
Despite the struggles, Golson made some great throws and maintained his composure throughout the game. Those sideline passes were usually accurate despite their difficulty, and Golson never looked overwhelmed.
With so many top players leaving, including the heart of the team in Manti Te'o, there is reason for dread in South Bend. Yet, despite the brutal loss, there is also reason for hope. Golson got better throughout his freshman year, and his final performance showed that the sky is the limit.