Click here for our Q&A regarding the Irish linebackers.
Click here for our Q&A regarding the Irish defensive backs.
QuarterbacksFor the third time in as many seasons, Notre Dame entered August camp without a prove starting quarterback, and, for consecutive seasons, without a known starter among its quartet.
Camp Questions: Could dual-threat Everett Golson beat out run-first, strong-armed junior Andrew Hendrix? Would suspended former starter Tommy Rees be back in the mix for a starting job upon his return? Would the read-option element brought by both Golson and Hendrix allow a quick tempo to again serve as a major weapon in head coach Brian Kelly's offense? Could true freshman Gunner Kiel ascend high enough to earning playing time in his first season? Would a Notre Dame starter begin and end a season without a benching by his head coach or without suffering a major injury?
The season's answersGolson won the job fairly easily (by most accounts) and maintained a stranglehold on the starting spot throughout 2012, though not without his share of hiccups. Replaced in-game by Rees due to a coaching decision on three occasions, Golson was also suspended for a series (thereby not starting the contest vs. Miami) and unable to make it back from injury for another (BYU). Hendrix never materialized as a major competitor though he did contribute a key first-down run vs. BYU as the backup to Rees.
Never out of his coach's good graces, Rees won back the Irish fan base with clutch play vs. Purdue, Michigan, Stanford, and Oklahoma, as well as a winning start against the Cougars.
The read-option element of Kelly's running game was unleashed in Week Five (Miami) and with the exception of the BYU and Wake Forest games, used as a major weapon throughout the season. That attack did not, however, include a high-tempo offense as the Irish evolved again into a power running team, one often deliberate in its pre-snap, no huddle approach.
Kiel did not crack the varsity with continual improvement from Golson and the presence of Rees as the clear-cut, reliable No. 2.
Season Takeaway: Given time, Brian Kelly has the Midas Touch with collegiate quarterbacks...
BCS Championship Questions: Can Golson play relatively error-free football vs. a defense stocked with athletes his equal or superior? Can Golson handle the moment as well as his counterpart McCarron, the starting quarterback and MVP of last year's BCS Championship game? Will Rees be called upon in relief for a reason other than the requisite forcible removal of Golson's helmet? Can Golson, asked to throw just three passes in the second half against USC, beat Alabama with a sustained, late drive?