Notre Dame quarterback race down to Golson, Hendrix
By Mark LAzerus 648-3140 or email@example.com August 8, 2012 2:22PM
FILE - In this April 21, 2012, file photo, Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson sprints out of the pocket during the Blue Gold college football game in South Bend, Ind. Golson and Andrew Hendrix have emerged as the front runners to be Notre Dame's starting quarterback. (AP Photo/Joe Raymond, File)
Updated: September 10, 2012 1:39PM
SOUTH BEND — Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said Wednesday that quarterbacks Everett Golson and Andrew Hendrix are “1A, 1B” on the depth chart.
And while fans and media are parsing every word and counting every rep at practice, the two contenders aren’t sweating which one is A and which one is B.
Not yet, at least.
“It’s just Day 5,” Hendrix said after working with the second team throughout Wednesday’s practice, something Kelly and both quarterbacks insisted changes on a daily basis. “I really just focus on myself, that’s the only thing you can do. Just focus on your play. You’ve got to keep your own head down and keep chopping wood, and at the end of the day, Coach Kelly’s going to make that decision.”
Two things are certain: The race is down to Golson and Hendrix (freshman Gunner Kiel got limited reps with the third team on Wednesday, and suspended former starter Tommy Rees didn’t get any), and Kelly will pick the guy he thinks will do the best job of protecting the football. Turnovers plagued the Irish last season, who threw 17 interceptions and lost 12 fumbles.
“We have a phenomenal team behind us, so if we just focus on not turning the ball over, making smart decisions, the guys around us will win football games,” Hendrix said. “We don’t have to go win them ourselves. Our drill work of throwing the ball away or avoiding sacks and just not turning the ball over, that’s been the mindset since the spring.”
That’s why, in Hendrix’s first two snaps of 7-on-7 work Wednesday, he tucked the ball and scrambled for a short gain, then threw the ball away when he couldn’t find an open receiver. His first two snaps of live 11-on-11 drills at the end of practice were keepers, too.
That’s also why Golson was kicking himself for having a screen pass picked off during 11-on-11 work — by defensive end Kapron Lewis-Moore, of all people.
“Very frustrating, very frustrating,” Golson said. “He called it, too — ‘Screen! Screen! Screen!’ I should have known. That’s a mistake I’m looking to fix.”
But both quarterbacks made it clear they’re not putting too much stock into every single throw and every single decision they make during camp — no matter how tight the competition is.
“You can’t think that way,” Golson said. “You’ll have some up days and you’ll have some down days. Being the quarterback, having all that pressure on you, you have to be at that medium — you can’t get too high and you can’t get too low.”
Golson goes to great lengths to maintain that even keel. He makes it a point to stay away from newspapers and websites — many of which anointed him the clear favorite to win the job after his stellar performance in the spring game. Golson was 11-of-15 for 120 yards and two touchdowns that day, while his competitors for the job combined to throw three interceptions.
But Golson doesn’t want to hear it.
“I try to stay as far away from that as possible,” he said. “Again, you have to keep that medium. I think the best way to do that is to stay away from it and just let people talk.”
As close as the battle is, Golson had nothing but great things to say about Hendrix, and Hendrix had nothing but great things to say about Hendrix. They also each raved about Kiel, a big, talented kid who’s just learning the offense; and Rees, the veteran who’s put aside his own self-interest to help his teammates — you know, the guys trying to take his job — become better quarterbacks.
“That’s just the way this unit is,” Kiel said.
But make no mistake — it’s still a fight out there. One neither guy has any intention of losing.
“Absolutely,” Hendrix said. “If that’s not your mindset, then you have no business being out there competing.”