SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- The poised play of Everett Golson has Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly pleased with the quarterback's development heading toward a tough stretch of schedule.
The sophomore quarterback was 17 of 22 for 186 yards and ran for another 51 in a 41-3 victory against Miami on Saturday.
Those numbers won't set any records, but backed by Notre Dame's incredibly stingy defense, Golson doesn't need to. Kelly said Golson "grew up" before a sellout crowd at Chicago's Soldier Field.
His coming of age comes at just the right time, with 17th-ranked Stanford, BYU and 13th-ranked Oklahoma up next for the 5-0 Irish.
Kelly said Golson clearly benefited from having an off week before Miami.
By Thursday of last week, his knowledge of Miami's defensive schemes had become clear in practice, Kelly said.
Of course, he'll have no such luxury in preparing for Stanford.
"You're always concerned when you have a younger quarterback that he's going to be able to pick up a lot of things that a team like Stanford likes to do defensively," Kelly said.
"They're an aggressive defense, they bring a lot of looks. But I will say this: He did a lot of things in the second half that he had not done all year. He recognized pressure, did not run out of the pocket, stayed in there and delivered some balls on time. If that continues to show itself, he's going to be very, very difficult to defend because he's got that confidence level and a strong arm that he can deliver the ball."
Kelly said Golson is feeling more confident and he thinks his performance against Miami will be a "great step forward."
"We'll just take it one step at a time with Everett," Kelly said. "We're not ready to feel like we're anywhere near the finished product, but a game like this will certainly buoy his confidence and ability to really focus in on the details of practice."
No team in the country has allowed fewer touchdowns than Notre Dame (three), and the Irish are the only team in the nation that has yet to trail in a game. The last time the Irish went their first five games of the season without trailing was in 1947, when they won the national championship.
Kelly noted that before coming to Notre Dame three years ago, he had coached a lot of teams with high-powered offenses. Sometimes they ran up lots of points, but on their off days, they gave up more than they scored.
"The blueprint here is to not to try and outscore people and turn it into a track meet. It's to control the line of scrimmage, play great defense and be solid in the special teams. It's just a choice in the way I want our program to evolve."
He praised the work of his defensive coordinator, Bob Diaco.
"Think about what Coach Diaco has had to defend in the five weeks: An option offense (Navy), a run-first with a quarterback in Purdue, Michigan State with a grind-it-out great running back. It's been an outstanding performance to date. We've seen it all, now we just need to build on it."
ESPN's College GameDay will come to South Bend Saturday for the Stanford matchup.
While Kelly is cognizant of the need to shield his players from the noise and hype, he likes what the national attention means.
"You want to be in that group of football programs that have College GameDay on your campus," he said. "You want to be that program that appeals to the audience that we're out recruiting. You want to be in that `in' crowd. You don't want to be on the outside looking in.
"We're excited about the spotlight being here in South Bend and for our program, and I'll just work real diligently this week to keep our guys on task."