With Golson out, what should we expect from Notre Dame's offense in 2013?
Everett Golson has been suspended, which will force head coach Brian Kelly to modify Notre Dame's stylistic approach for 2013.
The quarterback was suspended, according to ESPN's Tom Rinaldi (via SportsCenter), for not living up the academic standards:
Everett Golson tells ESPN's Tom Rinaldi he's been suspended by Notre Dame for 2013 Fall Term for academic performance, intends to return.— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) May 26, 2013
As a result, the Fighting Irish must resort to their other signal-callers in Tommy Rees, Andrew Hendrix and Malik Zaire.
Rees is the obvious first choice because the guy has the most experience of the three. In three seasons for the Irish, Rees has tossed 34 touchdowns to 24 picks, sports a career 63.6 completion percentage and displayed incredible clutch talent last season.
Coming out of the bullpen on multiple occasions, Rees led Notre Dame down the field in the waning minutes versus Purdue, scored the lone touchdown against Michigan, tossed the go-ahead score to outlast Stanford and minimized errors in his start to fend off BYU.
Hendrix, on the other hand, received the majority of his game action in 2011, when he accounted for 249 passing and 162 rushing yards. Obviously, the more athletic and spontaneous of the two, Kelly has an interesting potential identity for his offense this season.
Zaire is an incoming freshman and he possesses similar overall talent to Golson. With a strong arm, consistent mobility and arguably better accuracy, don't be surprised to see him earn some playing time in 2013.
A utilization of each athlete will be needed for Kelly to maintain an expanded playbook. And don't be shocked if this occurs. As Jeremy Fowler of CBS Sports writes, Kelly has been in an eerily similar situation before regarding quarterbacks:
A steady program can trump potential. And one of Kelly's best coaching traits is adaptability.
As EDSBS' Spencer Hall astutely put, Kelly won at Cincinnati with “a ficus plant on a skateboard at QB.”
If that ficus plant is Dustin Grutza or Tony Pike or Chazz Anderson, at least they never had a defensive front as good as the one that Kelly has coming back.
Rees knows how to make pre-snap adjustments and has sound accuracy to spread the field at the intermediate level. With him under center, Notre Dame can also feed running back George Atkinson III to present a traditional attack, which also helps regarding play action.
With Hendrix, though, his mobility allows for a more read-option-esque approach. Kelly will still be able to give Atkinson and other backs the rock, but it won't be that aggressive downhill style.
The same can be said for Zaire, although his mechanics are quite impressive and he has displayed the fortitude in keeping his eyes downfield.
Who should be Notre Dame's starting QB in 2013?
Establishing a sensible use of each simply gives Notre Dame a minute competitive advantage. It forces a defense to prepare for a bruising ground game, the play action, read-option and a variety of spread formations.
Kelly won't have the luxury of getting deep into the play sheet for each aspect, because an offense can only have so many plays for specific situations when relying on multiple quarterbacks. That said, a broader approach is capable of keeping a defense honest with a dependable rushing attack.
Golson's complete skill set gave the Irish the exclusivity of running a deep playbook meshed with an eclectic mixture of formations, personnel and actual calls. Even though it's tough to expect that this fall, Notre Dame still brings the talent to move the rock with much efficiency.