It goes deeper than the experiences of 2012.
In Golson’s mind, not getting a chance to play in 2011 may have been more significant in pushing his development along.
“I think me being put back on the scout team, it was just really a humbling experience for me,” Golson said. “Coming in, I thought I was ready to play or had that confidence that I was ready to play, but it wasn’t that way for me. I think being put back on the scout team, like I said, really humbled me, made me kind of reassess myself.”
Even the Crimson Tide can see that.
When Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart first started breaking down tape of the Irish, he predictably watched every play of every game several times. And by the end of that film study, Smart knew the Golson who started the season isn’t remotely close to the player who now is tasked with running the Irish offense.
“You can’t give the guy the ability to run all around and make plays, yet that’s what he’s going to do, so it’s who’s got the greater will to contain and keep him in the pocket,” Smart said. “So it’s a tough thing. The guy is going to scramble. He’s going to be a better, quicker athlete than the people we have up front.”
The thing the Irish rave about most when talking about Golson is his confidence.
Even when things were tough at times this season _ particularly the game against Pittsburgh when Notre Dame trailed 20-6 entering the fourth quarter, then won 29-26 on his touchdown run in the third overtime _ Golson continually showed he can do the job.
“He’s a very important part of our offense and he’s a big playmaker,” Notre Dame offensive lineman Zack Martin said. “Any time we can take a hit off of him, it’s going to be big. He’s a playmaker. He makes plays.”
If that happens Monday, Golson may make football’s equivalent of beautiful music.
“The race is not given to the swift or the strong … but it’s given to the one that endures to the end,” Golson said. “We’re obviously the underdogs coming into this game. … Alabama has, like I said, a great defense, great team, bigger, faster, stronger. But it’s really about who’s going to endure to the end.”
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