I-A College Football
    === Dorm Report: Golson's absence leaves Irish with questions at QB ===
 By Nicholas DeLorenzo, Associate College Football Editor
 Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - After posting an undefeated regular season
 and earning a berth in the 2013 BCS National Championship Game, the Notre Dame
 football program had plenty of reason for optimism as it looked ahead to the
 upcoming campaign.
 However, the Fighting Irish were delivered an unexpected blow earlier this
 week when it was announced that starting quarterback Everett Golson is
 academically ineligible for the fall semester.
 Golson addressed his suspension in a statement released by the school.
 "I have been informed by the University of Notre Dame that due to my poor
 academic judgement that I have been suspended from the University for the 2013
 fall term," Golson said. "I take full responsibility for my poor choices and
 will do all that is asked of me to regain the trust of my family, friends,
 teammates, coaches and the entire Notre Dame community."
 "There have been many lessons learned as I worked to become the starting
 quarterback at Notre Dame and each was a result of Coach (Brian) Kelly's
 belief in me as an athlete and a person," the statement continued. "At this
 point, I understand how my integrity could be in question, but I want to
 reassure my supporters that through this experience I will return a better
 student-athlete as well as a better individual."
 Following Golson's suspension, rumors of his inevitable transfer began to
 swirl, with CBSSports.com reporting that an unknown SEC coach was in contact
 with him over the weekend. However, although nothing is official, it appears
 Golson will ride out his suspension and return to the team in 2014 to finish
 his remaining two years of eligibility.
 "I want to thank the University of Notre Dame for the opportunity already
 granted and also the opportunity going forth to regain my eligibility in the
 winter of 2014," Golson said.
 While the Irish will certainly welcome Golson's eventual return to the
 football field, who will take the reins under center this season?
 As a redshirt freshman in 2012, Golson made his claim to the starting job
 early on and put together impressive dual-threat numbers, finishing the season
 by completing 58.8 percent of his passes for 2,405 yards with 12 touchdowns
 against only six interceptions. He also added nearly 300 rushing yards and six
 more scores on the ground.
 While his production will surely be missed, the cupboard isn't completely bare
 in South Bend. At this time last year, the Irish were also unsure of who their
 signal-caller would be, and after starting the season ranked outside the AP
 Top-25, they pieced together a fantastic season.
 The way Brian Kelly's offense is constructed -- nearly 54 percent of his plays
 in 2012 were rushing - the quarterback isn't always the focal point, so
 another strong season with a fresh gun-slinger isn't out of the question.
 After the departure last month of former high school All-American Gunner Kiel,
 who transferred to Cincinnati after being buried on the Notre Dame depth chart
 as a freshman in 2012, Kelly has just three quarterbacks on the roster. Now
 he'll just need to decide whether Tommy Rees, Andrew Hendrix or Malik Zaire
 will be the answer.
 Rees appears to be the overwhelming leader at this point, as the senior brings
 plenty of experience to the table. He was the starter as a sophomore in 2011,
 amassing a solid campaign (.655 completion percentage, 2,871 yards, 20 TDs, 14
 INTs). Last season, he filled in for an injured Golson on Oct. 20 against BYU,
 and while he was impressive at times (117 yards, TD), he was inefficient
 overall (7-of-16, INT).
 The competition is far from over, however. Just as Golson swooped in and took
 the job from Rees in 2012, someone else can do the same in 2013.
 Hendrix, also a senior, has certainly paid his dues, but he has attempted just
 44 passes in his career. He also failed to capitalize on his opportunity
 during Notre Dame's spring game last month, completing just 5-of-10 tosses for
 59 yards while being sacked three times.
 The wildcard is Zaire, who enters the season as a true freshman. He was
 expected to designate a redshirt behind Golson this year, but now he will be
 thrown into the fire with a chance to win the job outright. Zaire was a top
 recruit out of Archbishop Alter High School in Kettering, Ohio and is said to
 have a similar skill set as Golson, and while it's unlikely he'll have enough
 of a grasp on the playbook to be named the starter by Notre Dame's opener at
 home versus Temple on Aug. 31, Kelly could be turning to him sooner rather
 than later if Rees or Hendrix fail to perform.
 Fortunately for the Irish, they still retain plenty of talent to help mask
 their potential deficiencies at quarterback. Even with the loss of Manti Te'o,
 the defense will still be among the best around, with Stephon Tuitt (13 TFL,
 12 sacks), Prince Shembo (10.5 TFL, 7.5 sacks) and Louis Nix III (50 tackles,
 7.5 TFL) expected to put up big numbers once again. The team is also very
 strong along the offensive line, with experienced seniors at left tackle (Zack
 Martin), right tackle (Christian Lombard) and left guard (Chris Watt), all of
 whom will do their best to protect their signal caller, as well as create
 holes for a running game that averaged 4.9 yards per carry a season ago.
 Golson's absence has caused a ripple effect not only in the Notre Dame locker
 room but throughout college football, as now Notre Dame has gone from a clear
 BCS contender to a huge question mark, However, it would be foolish to count
 out Kelly and his crew this early in the process.
 The Irish blazed a trail across the FBS landscape in 2012, and there is no
 reason to believe they can't
 do it again.
 05/30 11:19:35 ET

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