Everett Golson doesn’t see it as rust.
After a semester and a season away, it took time for Golson to reacclimate himself to the offense, due in large part to the almost entirely new cast of pass-catchers to whom he was throwing.
“I’m throwing to a whole different group of guys right now,” Golson said Friday. “I think what we saw in the first couple of practices was getting the timing down, trusting the receivers. I don’t think rust was an issue.”
It’s still relatively early in the process of developing timing with the new receivers. The only players who caught passes in 2012 still currently on the roster are senior tight end Ben Koyack (three receptions in 2012), junior wide receiver Chris Brown (two receptions) and senior running back Cam McDaniel (two receptions). The numbers are even starker when considering who threw the passes (see chart below).
|Pass-Catchers From 2012 Team|
|Receptions||Yards||Receptions From Golson||Yards From Golson|
Where chemistry becomes especially important, Golson said, is when plays break down.
“In football there is a lot of times where there’s not a perfect situation—sometimes you’re getting blitzed, you can’t really see the receiver,” Golson said. “You have to trust where he’s going to be. I think that’s where the chemistry comes down, having that confidence that he’s going to be there when I need him to be there.”
Golson said he isn’t using the spring to simply get back to where he was before he left, only to then make major strides in the fall.
“I have that mindset that I do want to be great, so it’s not about just getting back into the flow for me,” Golson said. “Every day you come out, you’re going to work to be the best that you can be.”
And Golson’s best will be needed. Though Irish head coach Brian Kelly has yet to name a starting quarterback, he talked at the beginning of the spring how Golson is going “to be the guy that drives this force.”
“I think we all know college football and where it is,” Kelly said. “The quarterback is really going to be the centerpiece of this offense and the way we run it. And it’s going to fall on him. … We all live in the same world when it comes to the Notre Dame quarterback. We’re going to heap a lot on this kid’s shoulders.
“And he knows that.”
Golson said he doesn’t see it as pressure, but rather as an opportunity, and he thinks he has the supporting cast to lead a potent offense. Golson and the Irish offense likely won’t be able to fall back on a 2012-level defense—at least now, at least on paper—to keep the score in the teens (the Irish allowed 12.8 points per game in 2012, good for second in the nation), and he agreed it does create more urgency to put up points. But urgency is not to be confused with pressure.
“I think what we have in place complements each other very well,” Golson said. “The defense, I think they’re pretty aggressive with their blitzes and stuff like that. I think we have to be aggressive as well on offense. Like I said, it’s no pressure. I think it’s more so an opportunity for us to be really special this season.”
*All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.
Mike Monaco is a lead Notre Dame writer for Bleacher Report. Follow @MikeMonaco_ on Twitter.