|Notre Dame Fighting Irish coach Brian Kelly|
He won't have known it, as the game was shown at 1am local time on the eve of his college football debut, but Everett Golson can learn a lot from the two quarterbacks in the Boise State – Michigan State match up from last night.
Just like Golson will today at 2pm Irish time and 9am EST, Joe Southwick and Andrew Maxwell made their college football debuts last night. Maxwell's Michigan State side came out on top, but he owes a huge amount of thanks to his running back for carrying him through a tough game. Le'Veon Bell carried Michigan State's offense in the game with over 30 carries and some phenomenal big plays.
For the most part Maxwell relied on Bell and 6-foot-5 tight end Dion Sims in the passing game also while the Spartan's defense showed up well to shut down Boise's offense. Michigan State only scored 17 points, but it was enough to overcome Boise's 13.
The difference in the game wasn't the play at quarterback, Maxwell and Southwick for the most part played similar games. However, Maxwell just got that bit more help from his teammates while Southwick was repeatedly under pressure and let down by his receivers.
That is going to be a major aspect of today's game in Dublin. Everett Golson may be in the spotlight, but it is his supporting cast that will most likely determine the outcome of this game. Golson has no experience, and even though he has a lot of talent, he will likely have some early jitters in his debut on such a big stage. It was very noticeable last night that both debut quarterbacks improved as their comfort levels on the field grew over time.
Chip Kelly's game-planning on offense will be very important. Notre Dame has the defense to hold Navy to a surmountable score and Tyler Eifert offers the young quarterback a game-changer at tight end, but having the talent isn't enough. Managing the game is vital with an inexperienced head under center. Despite the suspension of starting tailback Cierre Wood, Kelly needs to show a commitment to the running game early on regardless of its success.
Easing Golson into the spotlight initially may put Notre Dame in an early hole offensively, but they must trust their defense to curtail Navy's arsenal. If both of those things happen, then the Fighting Irish should be able to rely on their new starter(at least for the moment) to carry them to victory and shine in the spotlight.