Irish QB Golson expects more in 2d year as starter
Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson is expecting a lot more of himself and the Fighting Irish offense next season.
''Last year we didn't really make our mark,'' Golson said. ''You can kind of blame it on the excuse it was just our first year going through it. But at the end of the day, we didn't do our job. That's definitely an emphasis for me personally, to make this offense better and have a better season.''
As a first-year starter after a season on the scout team as freshman, Golson put up respectable numbers as the Irish finished the regular season undefeated and were ranked No. 1 for the first time in nearly 19 years.
He was 187 of 318 passing, a 58.8 completion rate, with 12 touchdown passes and six interceptions. He had a pass efficiency rating of 131.01, placing him a run-of-the-mill 62nd among quarterbacks nationwide. But it was substantially better than the first seasons of previous Notre Dame standouts Brady Quinn (93.53) and Jimmy Clausen (103.85), who both started as freshmen.
The difference, though, was the 2012 Irish didn't count on Golson's arm to try to win games, depending much more on its defense and the running game. That has to change next season, offensive coordinator Chuck Martin said.
''There were times last year where people gave us looks that I was about slamming my head against the wall that we weren't throwing the ball. But we were not throwing the ball by design because we weren't as good at throwing the ball,'' Martin said.
The Irish finished the season ranked 71st in the nation in passing at 223 yards a game. It was the lowest production for the Irish since finishing 110th at 167 yards a game in 2007, when Notre Dame finished 3-9 in Clausen's first year as quarterback.
Coach Brian Kelly said Golson must play with more consistency and be better in every aspect of the game.
''Getting us in the right protection, playing at a tempo and a pace that we can control the football game. Just the next step in his development, which there's a lot of things that he's going to have to work on,'' he said.
Golson has spent part of the offseason studying film of NFL quarterbacks such as Seattle's Russell Wilson, Washington's Robert Griffin III, San Francisco's Colin Kaepernick and New Orleans' Drew Brees.
''Mostly because it amazes me is those guys getting the ball off at the rate that they do,'' Golson said. ''Drew Brees, his big thing is his footwork. He's very exact. Letting his footwork take him through his reads and his progressions. So just watching him helps me a lot.''
Martin said Golson, who was resistant to coaching at times last season, is much more willing to listen.
''He's a different kid right now. Time off does everybody good,'' Martin said.
Golson had his struggles last season. He was replaced by backup Tommy Rees for the final game-winning drive against Purdue in the second game and was yanked for ineffective play two weeks later against Michigan. But his play steadily improved in the second half of the season. He passed for more than 200 yards in the last five games, including 270 yards in the 42-14 loss to Alabama in the BCS title game - although 182 of that was in the second half when the game was out of hand.
Golson said being ''crushed and blown out and basically getting embarrassed'' by the Crimson Tide has led him to work harder this offseason.
''Having that feeling inside of me gives me a lot of motivation,'' he said.
Kelly said Golson has a strong command of the Notre Dame offense, but right now coaches are trying to scale back what he is trying to do.
''He wants to do too much. He knows his tool box very well. He didn't know anything relative to what he had for tools last year, in terms of what he could do with the offense. Now he wants to do a little too much,'' Kelly said. ''So we're at a totally different point in his development.''