The Royal Heffernans

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Sunday, September 23, 2012

Man On Wire

Brian Kelly walking the tightrope this season.

I've figured it out. I've been trying to figure out what the heck Brian Kelly has been doing with his QB situation since Spring practices. After last nights defeat of Michigan, I finally see what is going on.

We have a BCS caliber defense. Plain and simple. We have thoroughly dominated 4 opponents, including 2 ranked teams. For the first time since 1909, we held UM and MSU without a TD. For the fist time since 1943, we held back-to-back Top 20 opponents to 6 points or less. We have perhaps the best defensive player in the country, who is already a hero in Hawaii, and soon will be an NFL star. This is the type of defense that wins championships.

The problem is, we have a redshirt freshman QB. With tons of athletic ability, Golson won the starting job over Rees. However, Golson will struggle. We have already seen that. Rees has the knowledge to run Kelly's offense, but his lack of athleticism limits his ceiling. 2012 looked like the year we would be suffering growing pains through Golson's development. With the historically tough schedule, that seemed to be an okay choice, to build for next year.

Then our defense blew up that plan, just as they did the O-Lines of every team we have faced thus far. It's clear now that Kelly realizes the potential for this team. He cannot afford to let Golson go through a "trial by fire." He has to make gut-wrenching calls to try to maximize our chances to win every game. So while he will push on with Golson's development, Rees is available at a moment's notice to get the offense back on track.

I don't know if the plan is possible. 2 QB systems almost never work. The only example I can recall is Florida with Leak and Tebow. I think pushing things as they are now is doomed to fail. Instead, myself and every other ND fan are waiting for that game when everything just "clicks" for Golson. The game in which he emerges as a star.With 2 weeks to prepare, it could be against Miami. Their defense should give us a little more breathing room than our last 3 opponents.

In either case, our defense has given us hope. At the outset of this season, I saw 8 wins as a likely outcome. Now, looking at the rest of our schedule, I see only 3 games in which we will be underdogs. We will have Stanford at home, so I like our chances. Oklahoma proved it is mortal in Norman losing to KSU this weekend. USC has also proven it is not the juggernaut the polls anointed them, with Stanford providing the blueprint. I think I have to revise my prediction up to 10 wins and a BCS bowl.

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