Dual, Not Duel

Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly made it clear that he has one starting quarterback in senior Tommy Rees. Classmate Andrew Hendrix will lend a much-needed helping hand, provided he improves upon his opening effort of 2013.

To the surprise of no one, an appearance by senior Andrew Hendrix injected a modicum of life into Notre Dame's rushing attack. What was surprising for most was that it took Irish head coach Brian Kelly and coordinator Chuck Martin five games to integrate the weapon into their offense's arsenal.

"We're just trying to diversify the offense a little bit, trying to add some more looks," said Kelly of Hendrix's first half appearance vs. Oklahoma. "He's got some work to do. We've got to continue to work with him, but I think it gives us some things that the defense has to defend as well with him in there."

Hendrix appeared in three series, all before intermission. He was part of a 10-play touchdown drive (the team's first of the day), an eight-play drive that ended in a punt and a nine-play drive that ended in an interception (thrown by Tommy Rees). Along the way, Hendrix converted a third-and-short situation with a keeper, was dropped for loss in a later attempt on 3rd-and-3, and had a hand in two false start penalties -- one near the goal line after which Rees bailed him out with a TD pass, and one two snaps prior to Rees' aforementioned second interception.

Hendrix also failed to see a wide open DaVaris Daniels down the left sideline on his first pass attempt, instead rolling right and throwing out of bounds when his target, T.J. Jones, was held up.

The Irish scored on the drive (Rees to Jones) but Kelly took note of what could have been a costly error and unconscionable mis-read by his senior backup.

"He's got to be more effective than he was on Saturday," said Kelly. "He can't go in there and we get two false start penalties. We can't miss a wide-open receiver.  We've got to do a better job on our zone read.

"So if he's going to get more on his plate, he's got to be more productive, and we need him to be more productive."

Asked if Hendrix will compete with Rees, or instead prepare himself as a change-of-pace, "package" quarterback, Kelly noted it was too soon to look at expanding his role.

"I don't know that you can go into the game and say, 'I'm just happy with a half-dozen snaps.'  I hope that -- and the way we presented it to Andrew is, look, you've got to help us win. You've got to help us win football games.  So his mindset has to be, I want to keep adding more to my plate.  I want more and more. 

"To answer that question is probably a little bit too premature. We've got to get him to be more effective when he goes in the game because he's going to go back in the game on Saturday (vs. Arizona State) and he's got to be more effective in that role. And then let's look to add on to that, and then maybe get to your initial question of, 'Hey, you know what, I'm going to push Tommy Rees as the starter.'"

Rees' Rhythm

Routinely inserted and removed from games last season, Rees is no stranger to sharing snaps. As the player who'll receive the lion's share, the immersion of another quarterback into the offense is unlikely to have an adverse affect.

"I think it gives the defense another thing to prepare for, it helps us in certain situations," Rees said. "Obviously, we used him a lot. When we needed a couple yards down in the red zone, it's just another component of our offense. If Andrew can help us win games, there is no point in not using him."

Pressed if time on the sidelines interrupted his rhythm, Rees said, "No, not really. No, not really."

Hendrix wasn't used in the second half, his first-half output included: +1, incomplete pass, +2 (on 1st and G at the 3), a false start on the offense, +6, -7, +4 on 3rd and 1, a snap infraction on the offense, and +5 (on 1st and 15).

Not the stuff of legend, but Notre Dame was able to mount drives with Hendrix involved.

"The way we are playing, we don't have much margin, and certainly it's important for us to run the football," Kelly said. "So I think Andrew gives us that dimension that allows us to run the football, help us out in some short yardage situations where we know it's been difficult for us with so many guys on the line of scrimmage that it doesn't turn into, you know, throw the football every time.

"I think he helps us out in those situations. We'd like to expand it where we get him to have some play-action pass and some passing game, as well. We don't want to turn this into a Wildcat. We want him to be part of the offense and one that you have to defend. So I think it's evolving. But I think it's certainly something that he can fit into and be part of what we do moving forward."

Arizona State will feature a dual-threat triggerman this Saturday in Taylor Kelly. Notre Dame's Kelly is trying to create a viable running threat of his own from the position -- a dual-quarterback attack.


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