A day that didn't start well for Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson ended as the best of his young career, as the Fighting Irish beat down the Miami Hurricanes, 41-3, and remained undefeated on the season. Along the way, Golson solidified his hold on the starting job, even though he began the game on the bench.
Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly gave the starting nod against Miami to veteran Tommy Rees after Golson was late for practice in the lead up to the game in Chicago. After sitting out the first series, however, Golson took the field and showed marked improvement over his previous performances, especially on the ground.
"We really took a hard look at where we were offensively and knew that we had to open up the offense formationally, as well as the zone read game, which obviously helps us quite a bit and focus in on the run game," Kelly said.
For Notre Dame fans, and alumni like me, the emergence of Golson as a threat to run as well as pass was the key factor coming out of the win that ran the Irish record to 5-0 and moved them up to seventh in both major college football polls.
Golson's mobility, a key to the spread offense Kelly prefers to utilize, was a major factor in his winning the starting job this season despite never having taken a snap in a game before. Through the first four games of the season, however, the Irish had kept the offense simple. A traditional ground game had been enough to win the first few games, with an occasional Golson pass play.
But the off week leading up to the game against Miami seemed to allow Notre Dame to diversify the offense and take better advantage of Golson's running skills. He gained 51 yards on the ground to go with his 186 yards on 17-for-22 passing.
"I think today we showed a glimpse of what we could be," Golson said after the win. "Just to think about it, to me, it's kind of scary. There's just so many ways we could beat you."The Irish will have to keep their focus heading into their next game, as both the 17th-ranked Stanford Cardinal and the mega-hype of ESPN's College Game Day broadcast will travel to South Bend. It is yet another test in what is beginning to look like it could be a very special season for the Irish and those of us who live and die by their performance each week.
Rick Blaine, an award-winning broadcaster and columnist, holds two degrees from Notre Dame. Follow him on Twitter @RickBlaineCT.