The Fighting Irish of Notre Dame are facing one of the most frustrating conundrums of any team in the country. They are missing the final piece to a puzzle that has taken years to solve.
What's that one piece?
An unquestioned leader at quarterback.
What makes the situation even more maddening is the fact that hated Irish opponents Michigan and USC have what the Irish don't at quarterback. The Wolverines are entering the final season of the Denard Robinson era, while the Trojans are doing the same with Heisman Trophy favorite Matt Barkley.
For the Irish to compete with (and possibly defeat) each of these rivals, Brian Kelly has to name Everett Golson as his starting quarterback.
The sooner the better, I might add.
When you look at the 6'0", 185-pound redshirt freshman quarterback from a subjective point of view, you see a quarterback who possesses all of the physical tools to operate Kelly's spread offense at its highest level.
Among the four quarterbacks vying for starting duties in South Bend, Golson presents the greatest arm strength and ability to gain yards with his feet if the play breaks down. Words can only do so much, so you might want to take a look at his highlight film, "Doin' Work," if you haven't already.
And while Golson hasn't taken a snap during game action, he has had one full season to take mental reps and absorb the variety of lessons that Kelly was forced to pound into the mind of Tommy Rees time and time again.
Just because Golson witnessed Rees committing mind-numbing turnovers at such a disgustingly consistent clip last year doesn't guarantee that he will avoid any and all turnovers this upcoming season. Should he be named starting quarterback, Golson will experience the expected growing pains, but he would give the Irish offense a wrinkle that they haven't seen since the days of Jarious Jackson.
Think back to the last two times that the Irish have gone up against Robinson, and you'll be haunted at the memories of him eluding tackles and picking up huge chunks of yards with his legs. Golson can do the same for Notre Dame, although not on the same level as a guy such as Robinson.
Robinson also has been the central figure in the Wolverines' last two victories against Notre Dame, specifically due to his ability to escape the pocket when the play breaks down.
Robinson was able to produce memorable victories for the Wolverines. Golson will be able to do the same for Notre Dame, given his sterling high school track record. Golson led his high school squad to a 44-5 record as its starting quarterback, including two South Carolina Class AAA state championships.
No other quarterback on Notre Dame's roster can boast similar accolades. Skip Bayless of ESPN2's hit morning show First Take would be enamored with Golson's "clutch gene," as he sparingly attributes to high-profile athletes.
The Irish simply never had a true winner with Rees, who crumbled in crunch time by committing painstaking and momentum-killing turnovers.
With Rees running the show, the Irish offense was only running at 50 percent; with Golson, the offense will be dangerously close to reaching full speed.
It's only a matter of time.