In my film reviews this season, I've mostly focused on the play of Everett Golson, both his good and his bad. The reason for that is obvious: Irish fans have been waiting for him to take the field since he set foot on campus almost two years ago, so his play has been maybe the biggest storyline of the season, you know, besides the whole undefeated thing). So of course we'll be looking at Golson again in this film review.
There's not a lot else to discuss really. Pitt didn't do a whole lot on offense outside of two runs by Ray Graham and Notre Dame didn't play particularly well or particularly bad themselves on offense. But Everett Golson went off in the fourth quarter and made maybe two of the biggest plays of the season that helped keep Notre Dame undefeated.
Let's look at the game-tying touchdown and two-point conversion.
First, the touchdown.
It's a little unclear what this play was supposed to be because it broke down so quickly. Mike Mayock thought it was a designed quarterback run all the way, but the way TJ Jones cut inside makes me think it could possibly be a screen.
One thing is for certain though: Pitt wanted nothing to do with Tyler Eifert. They don't even try to hide their intention to double him.
Whether he was supposed to or not, Golson took off up the middle of the defense. There was a hole and open green in front of him...
...but that hole filled quickly. With nowhere to go, EG bails out of the pocket.
The Pitt safety comes down to keep contain on Golson. Jones and Theo Riddick take off towards the sidelines to get open.
This is where things start to go badly for the Panthers. When Riddick broke towards the sideline, the linebacker covering him was to his inside. The linebacker reacts too slowly to Riddick's movement and he simply can't recover.
You can see the separation between Riddick and his defender. Pitt 20, Notre Dame 18.
But the Irish still needed the conversion to tie the game.
The play is pretty simple. It's a simple rollout to the right with DeVaris Daniels and TJ Jones running a high/low route combination, but that's just window dressing. Tyler Eifert running across the grain to the backside is the real target.
Golson looks that way, but Eifert is well-covered. Time to make something up.
Golson rolls back outside, and there's not a lot of defenders out there. Just like on the touchdown, Pitt is in trouble. There's a defender in front of Christian Lombard, but he has no problem stopping him. Daniels' man can't abandon him because that would be an easy pass for Golson. Same for the defender on Riddick.
Golson cuts upfield. The man on Riddick is in a no-win situation. If he goes after Golson on the scramble, Riddick would score easily. If he stays on Riddick, there will be no one to stop Golson.
He stays on Riddick and...
Both of those plays were pure backyard football. Golson bought time with his legs and made something out of nothing both times. Heck, the touchdown pass may have originally been a QB draw. And those scores were set up by a play were Golson danced around in the backfield and uncorked a bomb to DeVaris Daniels. That form of improvisation has been lacking in Kelly's first two years at Notre Dame and Golson seems to be most comfortable in that mode.
What has to be scary for opposing teams is the fact that EG is so good at making plays out of nothing that he'll just become more dangerous when he learns to play within the offense. He still misses open receivers and still has happy feet on occasion, but the raw potential is there and when that light clicks in his head, watch out.