Quarterbacks -- Pecking Order EstablishedOf the group, only Tommy Rees exhausts his eligibility after 2013. With the spring transfer of redshirt-freshman Gunner Kiel, and a less-than-inspiring collection of 2014 quarterback prospects, Irisheyes.com expects senior-to-be Andrew Hendrix to be asked back for a fifth season.
Spring Star Everett Golson's weak performance in the Blue Gold Game shouldn't weigh heavily on Irish fans, the dual-threat triggerman had an outstanding spring. The most important player this spring was likely Zaire, who though not yet a polished passer, showed maturity beyond his years in the classroom.
"From the mental end of things, he's in the top group of guys that I've coached that really understands the nuances of the position and can understand coverages and rotations and pressures and movement keys," said head coach Brian Kelly.
"He's really at a high level there. His is simply we've got to tighten him up a little bit, quicker release, we've got to work on his footwork -- the things we had to work on with Everett. But he's really got a good mind for the game."
Aid on the Way: None. Notre Dame must sign either a quarterback or a run-first quarterback that can move to another position in this cycle. Failing that, a 5th-year transfer in from another program for 2014 would be mandatory.
Spring Questions that RemainCan Hendrix carve out a role as a 6'2" fast, 235-pound runner? Assuming Zaire is withheld from action, how much can he be kept with the varsity to avoid stunting his growth (running the "other team's" plays)? A fate that slowed Golson and both slowed and frustrated Kiel…Can Rees win in a full-game situation vs. a Top 25 level team if called upon?
Is Golson as advanced since last season as his head coach has indicated? Can Golson become a 65 percent passer in his second season? Coupled with his quick feet, the number would make the Irish defense extremely difficult to defend. If calamity strikes (both Golson and Rees go down) does Zaire get the multi-game call or does Hendrix? Will Hendrix consider a 5th-year option to ameliorate the dearth of depth in 2014? (Without him, only Golson, Zaire, and a true freshman would be in the fold.)
Final ThoughtsNeither Rees nor Hendrix can bring this offense to a BCS bowl berth if Golson were to miss extended time -- that's why losing Kiel to transfer "one year early" could be a blow…In good health, Golson will be the hands down MVP of the 2013 Irish offense…Rees was magic in relief last fall -- he might need to throw an occasional pass inside the hash marks if called upon in a full-game situation this season…Considering Notre Dame's red zone woes under Kelly (ranked 49, 88, and 70 out of 120 teams from 2010-2012) why isn't Hendrix involved in a package once the team reaches the 10-yard line? Is there any reason to play Zaire other than injury to both Golson and Rees? Its imperative the early enrollee put two seasons of eligibility between him and Golson…
Is Notre Dame the only college program with a backup quarterback that's contributed heavily to 15 wins entering his senior season?
Next in the series: The team's offensive line…