Notebook: Accuracy driving Notre Dame QB Everett Golson's climb on draft boards

Eric Hansen
South Bend Tribune

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INDIANAPOLIS — In a penalty-laden, scoreboard shock-heavy first half, the last thing likely on Everett Golson’s mind Saturday night was his distant future.

A laboring running game and a regressing defense put the pressure squarely on the Notre Dame senior quarterback’s shoulders and his ever-improving right arm to subdue a plucky-as-ever 28-point underdog Purdue team at Lucas Oil Stadium.

The defense eventually got into the act, but the offensive line took a step backwards as Golson keyed a run of 20 unanswered points in No. 11 Notre Dame’s 30-14 victory.

And yes NFL scouts and draft analysts alike are taking notice.

It’s not to the point that Golson’s 2015 fifth-year option is coming into question — yet – and the 6-foot, 200-pounder isn’t close to cracking ESPN analyst Mel Kiper’s 25-man big board for next spring’s draft, but he is starting to climb draft boards.

Accuracy is what’s driving the move. Golson started the night hitting his first nine attempts and finished the game 25-of-40 for 259 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran for a 15-yard score to give the Irish a 17-14 lead at the half.

Golson now has 113 consecutive passing attempts without an interception dating back to the 2012 BCS National Championship Game against Alabama. He is ND’s career leader in fewest interceptions per attempt, and it’s not even close.

“People are watching him and evaluating him, but there’s still a long way to go,” analyst Scott Wright of draftcountdown.com said. “He still has to show a larger body of work as a full-time starter over another full season.

“He is pretty accurate coming out of the gate, but he could still use work on ball placement. You’re still talking about a fairly inexperienced quarterback.”

Golson also was ND’s leading rusher Saturday night with a net 56 yards on 14 carries, despite being sacked four times.

“One thing he’s always going to have to fight is the short quarterback stigma,” Wright said. “Even though, there are quarterbacks who are his size who are having success and opening doors, it still works against him somewhat but is something he can overcome if his game keeps getting stronger.”

Good bye (week)?

With such an early bye week following Saturday night’s Purdue game, Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly is taking a different approach than his usual reward/relax/recuperate philosophy.

“This one is really one where we’re asking our players to stay here,” he said. “We’re not interested in them traveling anywhere. We want them to focus on their academics.

“We want them to focus on football. We’ll practice and then go with a skeleton (coaching) staff midweek, so coaches can get out of town Tuesday for recruiting.”

The Irish have a second bye week following their Oct. 18 matchup at Florida State.

Crowd Control

Maybe the “Take a StaND” slogan at Notre Dame Stadium is finally changing the culture in the stands.

In recent years, ticket-holders have told horror stories about being either shushed or asked to leave the stadium when they stood up and cheered and someone around them complained about it.

Reader Jeff Welty shares his experience from the Michigan game last Saturday.

“I get worried. I want to stand and cheer,” he wrote. “I believe the crowd can have an effect on the game.”

In Welty’s section a fan did complain to an usher about standing and cheering at what seemed like appropriate times. The usher came over to the fan and told him not to worry and keep doing his thing.

“Looks like it has finally trickled down to the ushers, and at some point it will to this portion of the fans,” Welty wrote.

Personnel matters

• Matt Hegarty drew his first start of the season Saturday night, filling in for grad student Christian Lombard at right tackle.

Lombard’s right ankle was heavily taped.

• Sophomore Greg Bryant replaced senior Amir Carlisle on kickoff returns after the latter left the game in the second quarter with a knee injury (MCL strain).

Notable numbers

• The first incomplete pass for either side didn’t come until the second quarter (14:32) when Golson misfired on a pass intended for Carlisle. The two starting QBs combined to go 16-for-16 until that point.

• With his first-quarter TD reception, sophomore Will Fuller became the first Irish player to record at least one touchdown catch in the first three games of the season since Michael Floyd in 2009.

• Irish linebacker Jaylon Smith had just one tackle, tying his career low, last season against Purdue. He had five in the first half alone Saturday night, including a fourth-down stop for no gain when Purdue running back Raheem Mostert was trying to pick up a fourth-and-1 at the Irish 28 inside 6:00 until halftime. He finished with nine, including two tackles for loss with a sack for 13 yards.

• ND running back Greg Bryant’s first career pass reception went for 17 yards, immediately after he put the Irish in a first-and-15 with an illegal procedure penalty.

• Purdue’s series with Notre Dame is tied with USC vs. Notre Dame and New Mexico vs. New Mexico State (69 games, since 1946) for the fourth-longest uninterrupted non-conference series in the FBS behind Notre Dame and Navy (since 1927), Army and Navy (since 1930) and Cincinnati and Miami (Ohio) (1945).

• ND was coming off its first shutout at night since a 22-0 win over Maryland in Ty Willingham’s coaching debut Aug. 31, 2002 and only the second in the post-Ara Parseghian Era (1975-present).

• Senior middle linebacker Jarrett Grace, who hasn’t played since the last Shamrock Series game (Oct. 5), had a team-high 10 tackles against Purdue in last year’s 31-24 escape.

• Notre Dame is now 21-8-2 (.710) when playing in a current NFL stadium (Soldier Field 10-0-2, Heinz Field 3-2, EverBank Field 1-2, Mercedes-Benz Superdome 1-2, M&T Bank Stadium 2-0, FedEx Field 2-0, Lucas Oil Stadium 1-0. AT&T Stadium 1-0, MetLife Stadium 0-1, Sun Life Stadium 0-1).

• Overall, the Irish are 84-33-6 (.707) when playing in an NFL stadium (Baltimore Memorial Stadium 18-4-0, Briggs Stadium 1-0-0, Cotton Bowl 1-1, Cleveland Stadium 9-1-1, Foxboro Stadium 1-0-0, Sun Devil Stadium 1-3-0, Giants Stadium 11-0-0, Soldier Field 10-0-2, Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum 11-11-3, EverBank Field 1-2, Mercedes-Benz Superdome 1-2, FedEx Field 2-0, RCA Dome 0-1, Orange Bowl 2-3, JFK/Veterans Stadium 10-1-0, Heinz Field 3-2, MetLife Stadium 0-1, Sun Life Stadium 0-1, AT&T Stadium 1-0. Lucas Oil Stadium).

• With the addition of Lucas Oil Stadium, Notre Dame will have played in 13 of the 22 venues that have hosted a Super Bowl.

ehansen@ndinsider.com

574-235-6112

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Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson runs into the end zone for a touchdown during the Notre Dame vs. Purdue football game Saturday, Sept. 13, 2014, at Lucas Oil Stadium. (SBT Photo/SANTIAGO FLORES)