Senior quarterback Everett Golson was named starter for the opener against Rice on Wednesday by Irish head coach Brian Kelly. Golson spoke with the media after Wednesday’s announcement. Here is a transcript of his comments after today’s practice.
Q: How are you feeling now that you know that it’s official?
Golson: I don’t know if I’d call it relief. I think it’s a heightened responsibility on my part now that everything is pretty set for week one. It’s my job to get these guys right on offense and just try to lead this team>
Q: How does it feel different from the first time you were told (you were the starter):
Golson: It’s just a heightened responsibility. In 2012, I think it was more of a first time around and things. You felt kind of accomplished. In this sense, I feel a little bit accomplished as well, but like I said, I understand the job and the task at hand and what I have to do next.
Q: Did you ever doubt that you’d be named the starter?
Golson: I don’t think I prepared like a backup. I will say that. I tried to prepare the best way I could, and prepare every day like the starter.
Q: Does this allow you in practice and how you approach the team in the huddle different?
Golson: No. I think that’s one of the things that coach Kelly kind of saw in me that allowed for him to make that decision. My control of the huddle. Just holding each other accountable, amongst my teammates. I think those things that I embody already allowed him to make that decision a little bit more.
Q: What and when did coach Kelly tell you?
Golson: He told me, Monday? It might’ve been Monday (actually Tuesday). Like I said. initially, obviously you feel that sense of accomplishment, but at the same time you know that you’ve got to go to work now. I have to do my best to prepare for Rice and week one. One thing we saw is, you know that job is not something solid. You come out and play bad in week one, it’s up for grabs. You’ve got to know that going into it. I’ve just got to do my best to prepare.
Q: Did you feel the need to talk to Malik (Zaire) about the decision?
Golson: I have not talked to him yet, to be honest, but I will talk to him about it. I think that Malik and I do have that relationship where I can go to him and talk to him about things and we kind of handle it amongst ourselves rather than having it come down from coach Kelly.
Q: A couple of years ago it wasn’t until the second month where you started to become more of a factor as a runner. There’s been so much talk about you working with (QB coach) George (Whittfield), how much more comfortable do you feel as a runner? Running the zone reads and everything else in this scheme?
Golson: Running was a little different from what I was used to. Coming out of high school I was a passer…..didn’t really run the ball too much. And then it was kind of implemented and expect of me to run in 2012. Now, I’m getting more comfortable with that and I’m becoming more of a dual-threat quarterback.
Q: What was the most difficult thing you had to do over the summer to put yourself in this position?
Golson: I think my mindset was just to try to get better every day. You come out of the spring, obviously I didn’t have a good spring game……the spring game I wanted to have. My motive was to try to get better every day and really become more of a leader and really take control of this offense. I knew that once I achieved that, I would put myself in a position to be the starter.
Q: Can you talk about where you were 18 months ago and what you’ve gone through to now and being named the starter and what that’s meant to you?
Golson: I think in that regard, it is an accomplishment. Knowing everything that haas transpired, from me getting suspended, to me coming back, battling with Malik, it is a sense of accomplishment. But I think my mind is set on moving forward and what’s next, that I’m just trying to get ready for week one and prepare to the best of my ability.
Q: Coach Kelly said your leadership is one of the factors. How much more assertive are you now that two years ago?
Golson: I think, me taking that responsibility as one of the senior leaders, I take that responsibility that this is my team. I’m responsible for the actions or the performance of our team. I think in 2012 we had guys. We Zack Martin, Manti, those guys, that it was hard for me to crack into that top level being that I was young and it was my first time around. Two years later, it’s completely different. It’s really a 180 in that respect.
Q: Do you feel you’re a different leader from even the spring?
Golson: Yeah, and that comes from preparation…..just knowing more. I think in the spring a lot of things were moving around. We had a new defensive coordinator come in. New defense and new blitzes. I also had a new quarterback coach come in, so that was something different me, too. I think after the spring is where I really kind of went back to the film room, was working with coach LaFluer and those guys, and really just honed in what we were trying to do with this offense. I think now, I’m in a position to kind of hold everybody else responsible because I’m comfortable in what I’m supposed to do.
Q: How critical was summer in that development because that’s when the coaches aren’t around as much?
Golson: One of the times where it was very important for me was just 7-on-7. Coordinating 7-on-7 amongst the players because I was out there leading it along with some of the other guys. Just really trying to have effective 7-on-7s and having the defense give us good looks. Having the receivers run things right. I think that’s what really heightened my leadership, I would say.
Q; Most people expected you’d be named starter. How difficult was this battle. Did Malik really push you?
Golson: Malik is a tremendous quarterback. I think when he does get on the field he’s going to shine. I think it was very tight, I would say. It was a close competition. I’ve always said this before. I’m confident in my ability. The competitor in me wants to win.