Notre Dame Deals with Quarterback Setback
Ever since Notre Dame defeated USC 22-13 on 24 November to qualify for the BCS championship game, things have gone downhill for coach Brian Kelly and his Irish.
First, Notre Dame was trounced by Alabama, 42-14, in the championship game in Miami. Then, Manti Te'o dated a fake girlfriend who wound up dying, along with his prospects of being a top NFL draft choie, and last week, Everett Golson, Notre Dame's starting quarterback, was suspended for the season because of academic issues (and let's read through the political correctness here; he got caught cheating).
Golson started 12 games last season as a redshirt freshman and leaves a big void in the Irish offense. Tommy Rees, Notre Dame's starting quarterback in 2011, will return this season and should be favored to win the job. Rees has started 18 games in his Irish career and was a key component in victories over Purdue, Michigan, Stanford, and BYU last season.
Fellow senior Andrew Hendrix, more of a runner like Golson, is a possibility along with incoming freshman Malik Zaire. Former five-star recruit Gunner Keil would have been in the mix, but he transferred to Cincinnati in April.
Golson's academic suspension leaves Notre Dame thin at quarterback. On top of that, the Irish had already lost key players at other offensive skill positions. Theo Reddick and Cierre Wood are gone at running back, although George Atkinson III returns some experience. Wide receivers Davonte' Neal and Justin Ferguson transferred, but TJ Jones and Davarius Daniels come back. The big loss is tight end, where Tyler Eifert will be playing for the Cincinnati Bengals next year.
Last season, Notre Dame won five close games on the way to their undefeated regular season. This year, with another tough schedule including games at Michigan, Pittsburgh, and Stanford, Coach Kelly will now have to find a new quarterback when all along he thought he had one for the next three years.