Deeper Impact?

A closer look at Everett Golson's 18 passes shows the redshirt-freshman passer is well-aware of his team's early-season strengths.

First-time starter Everett Golson threw an economical 18 passes Saturday, completing 12 to six different receivers for 144 yards. A closer look shows his intended targets on 19 pass drops as such:

Tyler Eifert (6): 6 of Golson's 18 passes were directed to the All-America tight end including three red zone throws that resulted in an incompletion (caught out of bounds) a touchdown (on the ensuing play) and an interception.

Of the six passes to Eifert, two were short end zone fade routes, two others quick throws off the line, one a short out to the boundary, and the final was picked off, a downfield attempt after which Eifert released from an in-line blocking position. It was perhaps Golson's only poor decision and throw of the contest.

"He's very reliable," said Golson of Eifert. "Being able to come to him at the goal line on the fade. It's a nice (weapon) to have."

Theo Riddick (4): Three flare routes (one which fell awkwardly incomplete) and a missed throw rolling near the goal line stood out, but Golson also hit the shifty senior runner for gains of 11 yards to the field side and 14 on a similar pass in the third quarter. Riddick's ability to catch a short pass at full speed in isolation vs. defenders in space will be a key ingredient of the 2012 passing game.

DaVaris Daniels (3): Golson's kindred spirit from the 2011 Scout Team was targeted for three balls, catching two including the day's longest pass play, a 35-yarder down the left sideline in which Daniels continued his route after being pushed out of bounds by the defender. Golson missed an open Daniels short on a comeback but connected later on the same pattern for a 12-yard gain.

T.J. Jones (2): True to 2011 form, Jones was the intended target on a pair of tunnel screens, both successful. The first, Golson's second career completion, went for 14 yards thanks to Jones' effort post-catch; the second another 16 yards as Jones barreled through Midshipmen defenders at full speed. The junior's confidence and aggressiveness on the heavy traffic route was impressive, and in stark contrast to the same oft-used pattern last fall.

Ben Koyack (1): A straight-up dropped pass (possibly a touch high, but one that must be caught) as Golson rolled right and had Koyack dead to rights on a first quarter crossing route that might have been good for six had the purportedly sure-handed target hung on. Koyack dropped a second pass later in the contest from junior backup Andrew Hendrix but caught his next offering, good for 23 yards late.

Troy Niklas (1): Made good on his promise of soft hands, catching a similar route to that dropped by Koyack earlier and rumbling for 29 yards before going down on a bit of a weak ankle tackle near the goal line. Future catches will likely see a more confident, calm Niklas run through one defender's tackle attempt in space.

Davonte' Neal (1): A backfield shuffle pass that netted a 5-yard loss. The play appeared to be one designed to get the shift, hard-nosed slot receiver more involved in the action.

Golson was also dropped for a loss on a blind side first quarter sack during which he appeared to miss a blitz check, pre-snap.

Of his 18 throws, five could be considered mid-range passes (one dropped, one bounced, one intercepted, and two completed) with a sixth pass -- the 35-yarder to Daniels -- the only true downfield offering.

Look for increased mid-range emphasis vs. the Boilermakers next Saturday, again often the result of play-action passes that include a rolling Golson with 1-2 pass options from which to choose.


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