The biggest mystery: Everett Golson

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Everett Golson fumbled consecutive snaps Saturday, and Brian Kelly was less than pleased.

"I think that's one of those game simulators," Golson said after Notre Dame's first spring practice in pads, the end of which was viewed by roughly two dozen reporters.

"In the game you have the effect of the crowd and just the pressure of the game on you, and I think coach Kelly does a great job of simulating that in practice so that when we get to game time it'll be much easier to handle."

Golson is still waiting for that opportunity to get into a game after a redshirt campaign last fall that earned him offensive scout team player-of-the-year honors and time to learn the playbook and adjust to college life as sophomores Tommy Rees and Andrew Hendrix saw the majority of game action.

"It was a blessing," Golson said. "Being on scout team and going against the first-team defense helped me out a lot. I got used to the speed of the game, real quick and everything. I think the only thing I was lacking after that was the footwork, just because I didn't have a coach back there with me and stuff like that. But as far as getting used to the speed of the game and seeing defenses and all that type, it's helped me out tremendously."

Though Rees and Hendrix have been seen taking snaps with the first-team offense and Golson with the 2s so far in spring practice, the mentality is different this time around, as he enters his second season in the program.

Last spring, Golson was an early enrollee, buried behind eventual starters Rees and Dayne Crist, in addition to Hendrix, who ended up seeing meaningful snaps in 2011 as well.

"I would say I've progressed tremendously," Golson said. "As far as me coming in, it was more nerve-wracking for me. It felt like I probably put a little bit too much pressure on myself, but now coming into spring I feel a little bit more relaxed and comfortable."

The 6-foot, 185-pounder's deceptively strong arm and elusiveness would appear tailor-made for the spread offense. He mentioned footwork as a weakness four separate times in a six-minute span, but Kelly praised that aspect of Golson's game following the Irish's first spring practice.

Now, it's about putting it all together.

"He's got quick feet. He's got a strong arm. He's got all the tools," Kelly said. "Now for me, it's about accuracy, getting the ball out on time, and obviously having good football intelligence. And those are the areas that he'll continue to work on. Because there's no question about his footwork. There's no questioning his arm strength. We've gotta continue to work on those other three areas."