A trend that has to change for Notre Dame QB Everett Golson

Al Lesar
South Bend Tribune

SOUTH BEND – Three are a trend.

One football game spoiled by critical turnovers is a quirky blip on the radar.

Two cause a raised eyebrow and a reason to pay attention.

Three are a disturbing trend that must be addressed immediately.

Mistakes won’t fly at Florida State Saturday.

Notre Dame has turned the ball over nine times in its last three games. Eight of those – three interceptions (two of which have been returned for touchdowns) and five fumbles – are directly attributed to quarterback Everett Golson. Five of those blunders have been turned into touchdowns.

In Saturday’s narrow escape from North Carolina, Golson spotted the Tar Heels a 14-0 lead when he fumbled deep in his own territory to set up their first score, then tossed a pick-six for their second.

Later, he had another fumble that was converted into a TD.

How concerned is Irish coach Brian Kelly about the turnovers?

“Let’s look at each one of them,” Kelly said. “The first (fumble), he’s stepping up in the pocket and it’s a little bit of everything. The (receiver running) the route is too deep. The route should have broke at 12, it broke at 15. (Golson) had to hitch again. He gets the ball batted. It’s a fumble.

“The second one (pick-six), the box is emptied out. It’s probably a mistake Everett doesn’t normally make.

“Third one, he’s going down, the ball gets batted out.

“Each one of them is analyzed; over-analyzed. We look at each one of them and we go back to work to find ways to secure the football and do a better job. We don’t take any of them for granted. We look for ways to improve each time and look at each one of them as opportunities to eradicate them.”

Solving this scenario goes beyond a shrug of the shoulder and a, “Hey, I’ll do better next time.”

But, on the other hand, it’s not like the ol’ lefty Malik Zaire is warming up in the bullpen waiting for Golson to get the hook.

The only way Golson is going to leave the game is if he’s dragged off the field. And, heck, even then…

Golson took a monster hit after releasing what turned out to be an incomplete pass on third down. Golson came to the sideline and doubled-over a bit. It was obvious he wasn’t comfortable.

Zaire picked up a football and began warming up – just in case.

The Irish got the ball back soon after that on a turnover, and Golson trotted back into the huddle.

“I’m a competitor,” Golson said. “I wasn’t going to put (Zaire) in that situation. I remember telling him, ‘I’m good.’”

Nobody will question Golson’s toughness. He took some pretty good shots from an aggressive North Carolina defense and got up every time.

But, frustration can pack a more powerful punch than the most fierce pass rusher.

After three clean games to start the season, suddenly Golson’s confidence with ball security seems to be waffling. He has spent the past couple weeks working in running backs’ drills with little to show for it.

No room for waffles in Tallahassee.

“I come in (to face the media) every week for the last couple of weeks saying I have to do a better job,” Golson said, obviously irked. “Right now, it’s time for me to stop saying that and time for me to put my words into action and actually do that.”

Ditto for some of the passes he threw Saturday.

The situation is beyond the lip-service mode. Somewhere, somehow, Golson has to find the confidence to avoid the mistakes that can cripple his team.

It’s not going to be easy.

It’s hard to buck a trend.

Notre Dame’s Everett Golson runs the ball during the Notre Dame vs. North Carolina college football game on Saturday, Oct. 11, 2014, at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend. SBT Photo/ROBERT FRANKLIN