After an entire year off, Everett Golson showed the college football world exactly what they missed in his return under center for Notre Dame. Unfortunately, Rice was on the other end of his explosive showing.
Golson made his first start for the Fighting Irish after being suspended for the 2013 season due to a violation of the honor code. In Notre Dame's season opener, Golson broke out for 295 passing yards, 41 rushing yards and five total touchdowns—three rushing and two passing.
After missing his presence on the field last year, coach Brian Kelly was pleased with his quarterback on Saturday. Kelly spoke about his performance, per Adam Shear of Fox 28:
Golson was also awarded the game ball following the contest, via Notre Dame Football:
The result was a 48-17 demolishing of Rice, one that was highlighted by a 75-yard passing touchdown in the first half. Notre Dame Football and Tyler James of Notre Dame Insider break down the pass to Will Fuller:
Notre Dame scores on a 75-yard bomb from Everett Golson to Will Fuller to go up 14-7 with 2:01 left in the first quarter.— Notre Dame Football (@NDFootball) August 30, 2014
SportsCenter also let the young quarterback know he was sorely missed by the sports world:
Everett Golson, you were missed by the Irish! Golson hits William Fuller with a perfect throw for the 75-yard TD. ND leads, 14-7.— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) August 30, 2014
How many games can Notre Dame win with Golson in 2014?
Along with his arm, Golson also showed off the wheels that helped the Irish reach the 2012 BCS National Championship Game.
After rushing for 298 yards during his lone season at quarterback for Notre Dame, Golson proved he can still roll outside of the pocket. With his 41 yards, he compiled three crucial touchdowns with his legs to separate from Rice.
The Fighting Irish shared one of the rushing scores on Twitter that gave the team an 11-point lead in the second quarter:
Golson's production also put him in elite company in the history of the program, as Michael Bertsch of Notre Dame Insider points out:
Golson is third Irish QB to rush for three TDs in a game. He joins Jarious Jackson (vs. Stanford in 1998) and Paul Hornung (vs. UNC in 1956)— Michael Bertsch (@NDsidBertschy) August 30, 2014
While it wasn't entirely the Everett Golson Show on Saturday afternoon, the Irish faithful were certainly happy to see him back. Following a 9-4 season that saw the team go 1-3 against ranked opponents, having Golson in the backfield makes the team much more complete.
Fans were not the only ones coming away impressed with Golson's showing against Rice. Several analysts shared their thoughts on the performance, including Matt Fortuna of ESPN and Bruce Feldman of Fox Sports:
And again: Everett Golson has been nothing short of phenomenal so far. #NotreDame— Matt Fortuna (@Matt_Fortuna) August 30, 2014
As for Doug Gottlieb of CBS Sports, he was happy to see the young man getting a second chance:
Everett Golson feels like a great feel good story this year in college football- rooting for him! Made a mistake,penance paid #ND— Doug Gottlieb (@GottliebShow) August 30, 2014
Golson has clearly made the most of that second chance and is putting Notre Dame on his back. While it is still early in the season, the Irish look like a much more complete team with him under center.
For now, the Irish are still ranked No. 17 in both the Associated Press and Amway polls. If Golson and the entire team continue to put together performances like the one against Rice, this could be another special season for the fans in South Bend.
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