In Golson, Michigan prepares for another dual-threat

File Photo/Daily
Buy this photo

By Greg Garno, Managing Sports Editor
Published September 3, 2014

They say Everett Golson is good enough to start on the Notre Dame basketball team.

They call him a playmaker. “Electric.” The player you have to look after because of his speed.

Now, they say he’s a complete quarterback.

Even after being suspended a year for what he called “poor academic judgment,” Golson returns this season with the same speed that exposed defenses last season and a strong arm that will test the Michigan football team’s secondary.

“To me, watching him on tape, he has a really strong arm,” said defensive coordinator Greg Mattison on Monday. “He has thrown so many deep passes this last game, more than he usually would, that were on the money. I see a guy who’s not only mobile but also has a really, really strong arm. He’s becoming a really complete quarterback in my mind.”

Added junior linebacker Joe Bolden: “He’s the stereotype of a dual-threat quarterback. “When the play breaks down, he makes plays.”

In the 16th-ranked Fighting Irish’s 48-17 win over Rice, Golson went 14-for-22 for 295 yards and two touchdowns passing while running for three touchdowns.

But his skill set isn’t unique, nor is it new to Michigan. Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller has burned the Wolverines before, and former quarterback Denard Robinson has torched many a team. Even current quarterback, fifth-year senior Devin Gardner, has mobility to escape defenses.

But in the past, Hoke and company have used former wide receiver Joe Reynolds to simulate mobile quarterbacks. With his departure, Michigan is using backup quarterbacks Brian Cleary and Wilton Speight.

“Those two have given us good looks,” Hoke said. “Because of the first opponent, we’ve worked really hard on the zone-read aspect. So, you’re gonna play a really good athlete. We gotta have 11 guys to the football.”

Against Appalachian State, the defense lined up in the 3-4, putting senior defensive end Frank Clark as a linebacker, giving more options in the event Golson scrambles.

The Wolverines succeeded in getting into the backfield with the formation, but failed to force a turnover against the Mountaineers.

“You gotta cover the guy you’re supposed to cover as well as keep your eyes on the quarterback to make sure he doesn’t take off on you,” Bolden said. “He’s fast, he’s athletic and he’s a playmaker.”

It’s Golson’s arm that poses the biggest threat, and he toyed with Rice by scrambling and then unleashing a deep bomb downfield or finding an open receiver.

“Our receivers clearly know that there is no area on the field that Everett can’t get to (with his arm),” said Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly after the game.

“He kept his eyes downfield, knew when to run, knew when to throw it, and those are things we really talked about. We didn’t want to overcoach him in that we were going to allow him to get outside the pocket and be a football player and just naturally go play the game. He came back and I think really showed the kind of player that he can be.”

But the biggest key to stopping Golson might be slowing down his confidence, which grows with every day he’s back on the field.

“He’s been off for a year, so he’s ready to play,” Bolden said.