OK, armchair coaches everywhere: What would YOU do? Everett Golson has fumbled a snap, he’s fumbled a handoff, and he’s fumbled in the end zone to give Stanford a touchdown and a 7-3 halftime lead. He’s nearly been picked off twice, and he’s nearly been tackled for a safety twice because he held on to the ball too long.
But what would Tommy Rees be doing against this Stanford defense? Besides picking himself off the turf over and over again? Golson has been under heavy pressure all game, and has used his athleticism to elude several sure sacks — sometimes making ill-advised throws, but sometimes actually creating some offense. Rees is less likely to make the foolish plays, but he’s less likely to make a play out of nothing, too. It’s a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t situation for Brian Kelly.
The best answer is option three: Run the ball. Run it, run it, and the run it some more. No easy task against the stout Stanford defense, but every drop-back has been an adventure, and many of them have been disasters.
Notre Dame’s defense — the half-closing two-minute drill aside — has been its usual tremendous self so far, and can still say it hasn’t allowed an offensive touchdown in 14 quarters. But Notre Dame’s offense — no matter who’s taking the snaps — has to figure something out here in the second half. Golson had a very nice bounce-back drive following the Stanford fumble recovery in the end zone, marching the Irish into chip-shot field-goal range before a bad snap rendered it moot. So he’ll likely get the call to start the second half. The Irish need more of that Golson. and less of the freewheeling guy who’s been playing fast and loose with the ball.
Otherwise. Notre Dame’s path to a BCS bowl game is going to get an awful lot tougher.