SOUTH BEND – Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly has never been hesitant to go to his backup quarterback.
Kelly made the call to Tommy Rees over Everett Golson in the closing minutes of last season’s 20-17 victory over Purdue because Golson, who was starting only his second game, wasn’t as proficient in the two-minute offense as Rees. Two weeks later, Rees got called in the opening half of a 13-6 win over Michigan because Golson was struggling.
Kelly’s willingness to use multiple quarterbacks doesn’t stop with needing to go to a veteran over a first-year player.
With Golson suspended because of an academic violation and Rees moved to starter, Kelly will still go to another quarterback if it will help win a game.
And there’s a clear order behind Rees with senior Andrew Hendrix up first followed by freshman Malik Zaire.
Zaire will also be groomed to be ready to play this season. Unlike Gunner Kiel, who transferred to Cincinnati, and Golson, he will not be the scout team quarterback but will instead work with the offense in practices.
But Kelly knows who will get the first chance to help the Irish win behind Rees.
I think I made it pretty clear that if I believe Andrew can help in winning football games, I am not a guy that’s going to be hesitant to put him in at any time to help us win, Kelly said. The evaluation is always about for me, can you help us win football games? Andrew can help us win.
We’ll see if there’s a time and place necessary for him to come in and help us win games.
Hendrix has played in eight games at Notre Dame, throwing for 304 yards with a touchdown and running for 203 yards with a TD.
The 6-foot-1, 226-pound senior could be inserted into the game for reasons beyond an injury to Rees.
Obviously, (Hendrix) would be a guy that we’d feature in some more runs like we did with Everett Golson, Kelly said. He could still throw it. He could still run the offense. We’re not going to change into an entirely different offense. We certainly would feature some more quarterback inspired runs and reads, which are already within our system.
If I think he can help us win I’d put him in. I’m confident that Andrew can help us win this year.
If I think that I could insert him at any time to give us that, I’m not hesitant to do that. I’ll go to the bullpen and ask him to come in.