Sophomore quarterback Everett Golson missed the end of last week's game after a head-to-head collision.
Team doctors diagnosed Golson with a concussion after a head-to-head collision with a Stanford tackler in the fourth quarter of last Saturday’s game. Golson missed the rest of the overtime win because of blurry vision and other concussion symptoms. Kelly said Tuesday that the sophomore was returning to his normal self, but did not pass the computer-generated cognitive test that all Notre Dame athletes are required to take before returning to the field after a concussion.
“There is a protocol. There are standards that are independent of the head football coach. This is strictly on our medical staff. They make all those decisions and they come to me and tell me when he’s ready to go,” Kelly said Tuesday afternoon.
Golson is scheduled to take the test again this afternoon and Kelly expects him to be cleared to play in time to properly prepare for this week’s game against Brigham Young. The coach said if Golson is able to practice by Thursday afternoon he will start against the Cougars even if that means slightly scaling back the game plan and playbook.
Spending Tuesday as a spectator is becoming the status quo for the 185-pound mobile quarterback. Golson was limited early in the past two weeks of practice with a shoulder injury prior to the Miami game and a bout with turf toe last week. Kelly said he has no plans of scaling back Golson’s running responsibilities despite his recent stream of injuries or his struggles with fumbles.
“I think we probably have to continue to move him,” Kelly said. “One of his great strengths is the ability to run. He’s just gotta take great care of the football. We’ll get through it. It’s a painstaking process right now, but we’ll get him to hold on to the football.”
Golson’s three fumbles against Stanford proved to be costly for a variety of reasons. The first muffed snap gave the Cardinal a head start in the field position battle early in the first quarter. The second, which was on a passing play, was recovered for a touchdown. The final fumble ended a promising scoring chance in the third quarter.
Kelly was nonetheless pleased with the way his first-year starter progressed during his sixth collegiate game. He said Golson bounced back well from his mistakes, making his four best throws on his last four passing attempts of the game. One of those was a 24-yard flag route he guided between two defenders and into the hands of senior Tyler Eifert for the first offensive touchdown of the game for either team.
“The ball was put in a position where the defensive back had no chance of what we call raking through the basket,” Kelly said. “That’s something that he’s worked hard at developing. He would’ve not made that throw in week one or week two. He would’ve thrown a line drive, level one ball that would have either been deflected by the corner who was sinking or Tyler would not have gotten his hands on it.”
Junior Tommy Rees took over for Golson on the final drive of regulation and completed all four of his pass attempts, including three in overtime. Rees will take roughly 60 percent of the team’s reps in practice today with third-stringer Andrew Hendrix taking the rest as Golson watches.
Avoiding the trap
Wedged between two ranked opponents and amid the hype of landing at No. 5 in the initial BCS standing, Saturday’s visit from a solid, 4-3 BYU team has the makings of a classic trap game. It also falls during Notre Dame’s fall break when no classes are in session.
“It’s a trap game each week if you think you can take a breather — if you think you can go, ‘I can take a breather now it’s midsemester break.’ We’re screwing things down tighter,” Kelly said.
The team is doing some things differently to stay busy — early brunches, captain-led film sessions — but Kelly said he is trying to strike a balance between keeping his team occupied and letting them rest and relax.
And as far as the BCS rankings? Those won’t distract Notre Dame according to its head coach.
“I really don’t care, I’m sorry,” he said.