Quarterback derby is on
By Neil Hayes
It was no surprise that the first official question posed to Brian Kelly at Notre DAme's season-opening press conference related to the quarterback position. The Notre Dame coach can only hope it doesn't become a theme as the Irish begin preparations for a season that many believe will result in a return to national prominance.
"We go into camp and clearly believe all four of those guys can compete and help our football team win," Kelly said Friday. "We [have] just got to find out how that plays out."
The four players in question are Dayne Crist, Tommy Rees, Andrew Hendrix and Everett Golson, and they present a potential dilemma for a team that was ranked 18th in the USA Today preseason poll. Crist is the favorite to start against South Florida on Sept. 3 after starting nine games last season before suffering a season-ending knee injury. Backup Tommy Rees filled in for Crist and has experience on his side. Hendrix and Golson have never taken a collegiate snap but are the kind of athletic quarterbacks that excel in Kelly's offense.
"It's really going to come down to the ability to run our offense at the pace and the tempo that we want to run it," Kelly said. "Dayne and Tommy get the first shot at that because they've got a little more experience. We all know Andrew Hendrix and Everett Golson have got great skill sets. Look, I can tell you, I'm going through this just like you guys are. I'm going, 'Is it Dayne, is it Tommy?' You can make the case for any one of them. We have to in camp really do a great job of giving them the appropriate reps necessary for us to make these kinds of decisions."
Kelly said he will use the first 19 training camp practices to evaulate his quarterbacks and decide who will start, leaving two weeks to game plan for South Florida.
He also said that defenders will not allowed to tackle Crist and Rees during practices while Hendrix and Golson will be fair game.
"It starts with Dayne having to have escape ability," he said. "He still has to extend plays. He doesn't have to reverse fields, doesn't have to run the ball for us to be successful. You know, when I had Tony Pike at Cincinnati, he could not run the football either. Escape ability, though, is absolutely crucial. He's got to be able to extend some plays. I'm not worried about his injuries because he can't be worried about them. We're going to throw him in there and have him go compete."
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