Four Down to Three?It's now highly unlikely – and it was never likely – that January enrollee Gunner Kiel will start the season opener vs. Navy in Dublin. Kiel's time will come, maybe late in 2012, though that would be a bad sign for the team's overall record next fall, but the forthcoming August QB competition appears to include three would-be starters, each of which were involved in competition a year ago today as well.
The next four months will determine the team's opening day starter – the three months, and the three quarterbacks below – will determine the direction of the program heading into spring 2013.
Tommy Rees: The highest completion percentage in program history. The fifth most touchdown tosses with the potential for 26 more games. Wins in 75 percent of the games he starts. Generally, a junior quarterback in Tommy Rees shoes has little competition for his starting position, but add the ugly statistic of 28 turnovers to his resume and even program outsiders understand why the competition was open this spring.
Rees entered with a leg up, and if the season started tomorrow, Rees would undoubtedly be the triggerman of Brian Kelly's offense. But his head coach has four months to weigh the pros and cons of each competitor and Rees' are more well-known than those listed below. That's chief among the reasons the staff is comfortable with Rees the offense's leader, but also why an entire collection of observers and pundits not inside the program's walls believes someone else would be better for the job.
Andrew Hendrix: The junior (redshirt-sophomore) has three seasons of eligibility remaining – so why does it feel like the 2012 season is one of now or never for the strong-armed signal-caller?
Hendrix has the arm, the legs, the toughness, and dedication to improve and work. What he needs most is 2-3 consecutive starts, and that might be difficult to attain with one competitor quicker, faster, with just as good of an arm, and more sudden, and another an established vet.
Hendrix's third August camp will have to be his best if he's to see meaningful snaps in September, or, especially, to win the job outright.
Everett Golson: The Blue Gold game's favorite son, Golson is the focal point of an off-season power struggle. Check that: a one-sided off-season power struggle.
Notre Dame fans, media, outsiders, insiders, detractors, and apologists see the plusses: the ability to make something out of nothing; darts thrown at the flick of a wrist, touch, elusiveness, speed, leadership potential. But none of those Irish-related brokers possess any of the power.
Conversely, Brian Kelly sees a lack of attention to detail, mistakes in the minutia of the position that often result in turnovers, penalties, or poor decisions, and the possibility that Golson will give away a game the Irish can't afford to relinquish considering the daunting 2012 slate and the results of 2010-11 in South Bend.
It's Kelly's call, and my guess is, if we saw every snap of every practice multiple times as did he, it wouldn't be an easy one – regardless of how it seems from afar.