September 27, 2014 - The Two Sides of the Golson Coin


In a game that proved the rankings donít matter this early, Notre Dame was able to overcome their own undoings and defeated Syracuse. The offense certainly moves through Golson and the teamís success follows Golsonís success. Bookending the game, Golson had four turnovers and the team was outscored 6-3. In the middle of the game, Golson completed 25 consecutive passes, had four touchdown passes and outscored Syracuse 28-9.

On the first drive of the game, the offense efficiently went 45 yards without a third down. Then on 3rd and 6 from the empty set, Golson scrambled for 20 yards but fumbled the ball to Syracuse. SYR immediately threw a 38 yard pass, but then forced to punt. Next series, on 3rd and 8 Golson was hit by an unblocked blitzer and fumbled again, but Steve Elmer recovered. Syracuse went three and out and punted right back. On the first play of the next drive, Golson overthrew a deep pass and Syracuse intercepted it. At the end of the first quarter, the score was 0-0 but ND had two turnovers.

As the second quarter started, ND got the ball at their own 5 yard line after a Syracuse punt somehow hit their own player that hold fallen down at the goal line and kept the ball in play. Facing only one third down, ND went on an 11 play 95 yard drive capped off by a touchdown pass to Will Fuller. Fuller caught a screen pass to the left and then crossed the entire field for 23 yards and the score. During this drive, Golson was 8/9 for 71 yards. Syracuse went three-and-out again and ND was starting at their own 28 yard line. In one play, after a play-action to McDaniel Golson hit Fuller perfectly in stride for a 72-yard touchdown pass. Syracuse would hit a field goal to make the score 14-3.

ND now had the ball at their own 21 with 3:00 left in the half. ND would drive down to the SYR 15 facing only one third down. After five runs and five passes, the team ran up to the line scrimmage to spike the ball with 0:13 remaining (and one timeout). Golson fumbled the spike but slapped the ball to the ground. The whistles blew, the players stopped. Except for a safety who picked up the ball and slowly ran to the end zone. After a lengthy review with much confusion by the refs, the refs determined Golson fumbled the ball and the whistle blew but it was a live ball. While technically the correct call, the whistles blew the play dead and there was not an immediate recovery of the ball. The team reacted correctly, but nevertheless fumbled a spike.

The ugly first half was over and ND led 14-3. As the third quarter opened, Matthias Farley intercepted the pass and returned it 15 yards. Clicking once again, the offense scored in 9 plays on an 8-yard fade to Corey Robinson. ND now led 21-3. During this drive, Golson completed his 18th consecutive pass to set the new ND record and was closing in on the NCAA record of 26.

The defense held Syracuse to another three-and-out but Cuse purposely took a delay of game on 4th and 2. The next play was a predictable fake punt but NDís change of personnel no longer thought a fake was no longer an option and the kicker reeled off a 42 yard run. The defense came back onto the field and four plays later held the Orange to a turnover on downs. Greg Bryant fumbled the ball away and Syracuse would turn that turnover into a touchdown. As the fourth quarter opened, ND gave up their first rushing touchdown of the season. The extra point would be blocked and ND led 21-9. ND had a short field after Syracuse tried to sneak in an onsides kick. When the offense got the end zone, Torii Hunter Jr. saw his first action on an end around for a six yard gain. The very next play he caught his first pass for a 13 yard touchdown, which his teammates congratulated him for. Hunterís touchdown was Golsonís 25th consecutive completion.

Syracuse would try a field goal and ND sent no rush expecting another trick. The kick went off the goal post. On the next drive, Golson threw his first incompletion in 26 attempts on another screen to Robinson. During the game, Golson was 16/17 on bubble screen passes the miss being the streak ender. Golson would end the drive with a pick-six that was read perfectly by the defensive back. The two-point conversion failed and ND led 28-15.

ND once again recovered the onsides kick. After getting into the redzone, Brindza made a 37-yard field goal (his 50th career field goal) and ND won the game 31-15. For the first time since 1943, ND scored 30+ points in their first four games. For the first time since 2012 and third time in the last twenty years, ND is 4-0.

        1  2  3  4   F
#8 ND   0 14  7 10  31
   SYR  0  3  0 12  15

What Worked?

  • Reading The Defense Ė Despite the first item below, Golson set the Notre Dame record for most consecutive made passes in a row at 25. The majority of these completions came on wide receiver screens and bubble passes to the flat. Many times Corey Robinson was left with a large cushion, the duo made Syracuse pay time after time again. Once the defense shifted to cover the triple wide receivers, ND would run for a large gain. ND dominated both sides of the ball, but did not finish as many drives as they needed to to blow the game open.
  • Leading Blockers Ė For the first time, we saw two-back sets and two tight end sets. They were not used often but began to show a new wrinkle. Since Syracuse sent one or two extra rushers almost every time, the extra blocker was key to protect Golson or pick up another defender for the runner. It will be interesting to see how long these formations stick around.

What Didnít Work?

  • Holding Onto The Ball Ė Golson fumbled on the first two drives and McDaniel fumbled on the third. ND recovered on the second two, but opening drive ND lost the ball. First play of the next possession, interception. On the final possession of the first half, Golson fumbles the spike. In the third quarter, Bryant fumbles the ball away. In the fourth quarter, a pick-six. After having no turnovers the first three games, Golson personally is responsible for four turnovers. The defense did their job every time, but against a better opponent the turnovers will be much more costly.
  • Finishing Drives Ė Not counting the final kneel down, Notre Dame had 12 drives. Of those twelve, there were five scores, two punts, and five turnovers. Three of the turnovers came after gaining at least 50 yards on the drive. It could easily be argued ND lost 10 points from Golsonís fumbles alone.
  • Golsonís Run Threat Ė Golson had a great keep for a first down after faking to the RB. But there have not been enough primary runs for Golson for defenses to really have to be concerned with him taking off. The plays have been designed to protect Golson and limit his hits. Syracuse was constantly sending extra defenders, which made the screens that much more effective and did not allow for many rushing opportunities, but through the first third of the season there have not been many designed QB runs or option keeps.

Quick Hits

  • Golson has a 14-1 record as a starter and is now has the best winning percentage for starting quarterback at 0.933. Johnny Lujack is currently in second with a 0.932 winning percentage (20-1-1 in 1943, 1946, and 1947 with three national championships).
  • In the past two years against a Power-5 team, the team with a -4 turnover ratio is 1-28. The lone win is Notre Dame.
  • ND is now 17-for-18 (94%) in the red zone. The fumbled spike being the lone miss. ND has scored 12 touchdowns (71%) and 5 field goals (29%) from the red zone.
  • Golsonís 25 consecutive passes passed Ron Powlus (1997), Brady Quinn (2006), and Tommy Rees (2011) who each had thrown 14.
  • The 76,802 fans in attendance set a record for largest attendance at a college football game in MetLife Stadium.
  • For the first time this season, ND did not score in the first quarter. Through the first three games, ND had scored in 12 straight quarters (16 straight going back to last season). Altogether, ND has scored in 15 of 16 quarters.
  • Updated all-time wins list:
    1. 911 - Michigan
    2. 878 - Notre Dame
    3. 877 - Texas
    4. 869 - Nebraska
  • Update on all-time winning %:
    1. 0.7338 - Notre Dame (878-305-42)
    2. 0.7315 - Michigan (911-323-36)
  • Golson's Stats Through 4 games:
    Rice:   14/ 22  295yds   2 TD 0 INT / 12 rushes  41yds 3 TD 0 Fum
    UM:     23/ 34  226yds   3 TD 0 INT /  3 rushes -14yds 0 TD 0 Fum
    Purdue: 25/ 40  259yds   2 TD 0 INT / 14 rushes  56yds 1 TD 0 Fum
    Syr:    32/ 39  362yds   4 TD 2 INT / 10 rushes  21yds 0 TD 2 Fum
    -----------------------------------------------------------------
    Total:  94/135 1142yds  11 TD 2 INT / 39 rushes  83yds 4 TD 2 Fum
    



Keywords: football, syracuse, everett golson, steve elmer, wlliam fuller, cam mcdaniel, matthias farley, corey robinson, greg bryant, torii hunter jr, kyle brindza, johnny lujack, ron powlus, brady quinn, tommy rees

Posted On: 2014-10-03 00:15:03 by IrishTrpt07
Edited On: 2014-10-03 05:26:07 by IrishTrpt07

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