August 30, 2014 - The ProdiGolson Returns

With the 2013 season past and a new season of hope, Everett Golson returned to lead the Fighting Irish to a 48-17 victory over the Rice Owls. This would be the first game played on the new artificial turf in Notre Dame Stadium. From 1930-2013, Notre Dame compiled a record of 325-107-5 (0.749) on natural grass. After today, they are 1-0 (1.000) on artificial turf at home.

It took a couple drives to get going, starting off with two 3-and-outs. A superb return by prior seasons' standards, Cody Riggs brought the punt back 25 yards to start the next drive at the Rice 47. The next drive consisted of 6 runs and 1 pass to tight end Ben Koyack. The final run, by Golson himself, put Notre Dame on the board after an 11-yard touchdown run. It would be the longest TD run by a QB under Brian Kelly since Dayne Crist ran 10-yards in 2010.

Rice converted a third down with a 30-yard pass to an open area in the field and tied the game five plays later on a 26-yard pass. In the five games Notre Dame and Rice had played since 1915, this would be the first TD Rice had scored against ND. The tie did not last long. After a touchback, the first play from scrimmage was a 75-yard play-action TD pass by Golson to Will Fuller, the ball traveling 60-yards in the air alone. At the end of the first quarter, ND 14 - Rice 7.

On Notre Dame's next possession, Kyle Brindza missed a 39-yard field goal and then the teams traded punts. Rice would get across the field on a 26-yard pass and end the drive with a field goal from 33-yards out. On a three run / four pass drive, Golson capped the drive off with another TD run - this one from 14-yards out (a new record under Kelly). Matthias Farley intercepted the Rice QB and Notre Dame got the ball back with 21 seconds. In prior seasons, this would have surely meant a knee to end the half. But Golson threw one incomplete pass and then found C.J. Prosise in the end zone for a 53-yard TD. ND 28 - Rice 10 at the half.

The third quarter was all Irish. Rice started the half with a missed FG. Brindza then made a 36-yard FG after the 13-play 53-yard drive stalled. Rice then turned the ball on downs after the Irish sniffed out a fake punt attempt. (Note: strategically this was a very good call by Rice. ND may have been helping their return game by pulling an end quickly to go block downfield. This left one side of the line out manned and open for a run. However, this punt attempt the end stayed home and collapsed the end to stuff the run.) Working with a short field, a 22-yard pass to Amir Carlisle - now operating in the slot - brought the team to the Rice 11. One a "botched hand-off" to Greg Bryant, Golson ran the ball in four yards for his third rushing TD on the day. With that TD, Golson tied the Notre Dame record for most rushing TDs by a QB. The record of three was first set by Paul Hornung against UNC in 1956 and then tied by Jarious Jackson against Stanford in 1998. After three quarters, ND 38 - Rice 10.

After another Rice punt, the run game picked up with Tarean Folston running for six of the eight plays. Brindza finished the drive with a 29-yard FG. With the replacements now in the game, a 53-yard TD pass by the backup Rice QB put the score at 41-17. Notre Dame put in their own backup QB as Malik Zaire saw his first collegiate game action. Trying to make the most of his opportunity, Zaire took off on a 56-yard run. Two plays later, Greg Bryant finished the drive with a 17-yard TD run. Rice fumbled their next drive and ND ran out the clock. Final: ND 48 Rice 17.

In his first game back since the 2012 BCS National Championship, Golson accounted for five touchdowns (three passing / two rushing), threw for 295 yards and ran for another 41 yards.

                 1   2   3   4   F      
    Rice   7   3   0   7  17
#17 ND    14  14  10  10  48

What Worked?

  • Tempo & Play Selection - We didn't exactly run the 90 plays Kelly had hoped (it ended up being 66) but the play selection saw 44 runs to 22 passes. A far cry different from past seasons. Before Zaire entered the game, ND had already run for 199 yards. Further, rarely did we see the offense line up and check the sideline, only to change the play, and either (a) force a quick snap, (b) burn a time out, or (c) get a delay of game. The ball was usually snapped with around 20 seconds remaining on the play clock.
  • The Return Game - Kelly said the turf made the difference, but the numbers say different. Florida Gators transfer Cody Riggs began the punt returns with a 24-yard return and a 25-yard return. To put in perspective, ND had 48 return yards in 2012 and 106 yards in 2013. Riggs had 49 yards after two returns. A bit gassed, Bryant replaced Riggs and added 31 yards on three returns. The team total 80 yards, averaging 16 yards per return. A vast vast improvement from past years.
  • Clean, Smart Play - The no turnovers and two penalties was the best outing since the 2012 Oklahoma game (no turnovers, one penalty - 5 yards for offsides). This time the two penalties were on converted-center Nick Martin for false snaps, but led to only 10 total yards.

What Didn't Work?

  • Secondary - Due to academic suspensions and injuries, the safeties and corners saw some new faces. This led to blown coverages and wide open swathes of field that Rice was able to take advantage of for some big passes. Hopefully, tape review and another week working together will patch this up before next week.
  • Play Breakdown - This can be both a worked and didn't work. Several times plays turn into backyard football, and receivers have target points in the field they should get to. Golson was 14-22. The incompletes included three thrown away balls, three dropped balls, one slightly overthrown, and one should-be interception. Golson made some quick decisions and deep passes, but the scrambling with a potential loose ball still makes us nervous. This could be a point to follow next week since Michigan gave Golson fits last outing (Michigan 2012 was Golson's worst career outing. Hopefully he learned from that experience).

But remember, one game does not make a trend.

Keywords: football, rice, everett golson, grass, artificial turf, cody riggs, ben koyack, dayne crist, brian kelly, will fuller, kyle brindza, amir carlisle, greg bryant, paul hornung, jarious jackson, malik zaire, tarean folston, oklahoma, michigan

Posted On: 2014-09-04 00:15:07 by IrishTrpt07


      Were you there? Have more to add? Leave a comment and let us know!

Be the first to comment!

   Post New Comment

Name: *

Comment: *

Reload Image

Enter Captcha (case sensitive):