Primarily thanks to a smothering defense and brilliant relief effort by quarterback Tommy Rees, the 5th-ranked Fighting Irish overcame the 22nd-ranked Stanford University Cardinal 20-13 in overtime on Saturday night at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend.
With another home game looming this weekend against the BYU Cougars, Fighting Irish head coach Brian Kelly must permanently remove 19-year-old sophomore Everett Golson as the starting signal-caller in favor of the far more effective Rees.
Prior to the Cardinal (4-2) classic, Kelly, a three-time Big East Coach of the Year who mercifully replaced the hideously obese Charlie Weis as Notre Dame’s leader in December 2009, had turned to the 6-foot-2, 210 pound Rees on a couple of occasions to emerge victorious.
However, in this instance, Golson, a finalist for Mr. Football of South Carolina in 2010 who is ranked 16th on Rivals.com dual-threat quarterback list, was yanked after suffering a concussion with 3:24 left in regulation.
The 6-foot, 185 pound Golson is terribly erratic and frequently seems clueless reading defensive formations at the line of scrimmage.
Oftentimes, with the benefit of their menacing front seven, Notre Dame seems to win strictly in spite of Golson.
Nevertheless, the great Kelly seems oddly attached to the mediocre South Carolinian.
“He’s (Everett) going through the steps, the protocol that we have,” said Kelly, 50, who has led Notre Dame to its first 6-0 start since 2002. “He was still a bit symptomatic today, so he’ll go through his cognitive testing (Monday).”
To date, Golson has completed 79 passes for four touchdowns, in comparison to three interceptions, for 968 yards.
Conversely, South Bend’s resident 20-year-old fuzz beater has connected on 17 of 25 throws for one score and 218 yards.
The fiery Kelly undoubtedly remains pissed at the embarrassing incident and refuses to let Rees out of his doghouse.
Unfortunately, sans Rees, Notre Dame is quite possibly staring at two losses this autumn.
The Irish are fielding a legitimate contender for the first time since 1993 when Lou Holtz oversaw arguably the best team in the nation.
Hence, in fairness to the squad as a whole, Brian Kelly needs to go “through the steps” of handing the ball, and his faith, to Tommy Rees.by