By ERIC HANSEN, Tribune Staff Writer
8:47 PM EDT, October 21, 2010
SOUTH BEND - Andrew Hendrix drew passing grades, not oohs and ahs, for his imitation of Navy option quarterback Ricky Dobbs this week.
In the bigger picture, though, the Notre Dame freshman quarterback looks like anything but a scout-teamer.
“Impressive,” ND coach Brian Kelly said of the 6-foot-2, 218-pound former Cincinnati Moeller standout. “The ball comes out of his hand like probably one other guy I’ve ever coached. It comes out that quick, that fast.
“He’s got escapability, maneuverability - he just has all the pieces. It’s now just about getting into the offense and seeing how he picks things up from a spread quarterback standpoint, but the tools are pretty impressive.”
Hendrix isn’t expected to make the trip to East Rutherford, N.J., this weekend for Saturday’s rivalry renewal between the Irish (4-3) and Navy (4-2). He and fellow freshman Luke Massa have been ticketed for redshirt seasons, a plan that will stay in place as long as the QB position isn’t depleted by injuries.
Early-enrolling freshman Tommy Rees and junior Nate Montana have been sharing the No. 2 quarterback job this season behind junior Dayne Crist. Hendrix and/or Massa could challenge that status as soon as next spring.
“When the defensive coaches rave about somebody - and they don’t do that very often - you know you’ve got somebody who has a chance to be really good,” Kelly said of Hendrix.
- There’s no change in the status of ND junior wide receiver Michael Floyd for the Navy game. He’ll still be a game-time decision.
The leading Irish receiver suffered a hamstring injury late last week in practice and played through it last Saturday against Western Michigan, but he hasn’t had any contact in practice this week.
“Michael moved around today,” Kelly said Thursday. “He looked pretty good. He said he felt pretty good. We didn’t ask him to do too much. It was a little cooler out there today than we thought.”
Senior and New Jersey product Duval Kamara will start if Floyd is unable to.
- It appears there may be a breakthrough on the injury front involving junior safety Jamoris Slaughter.
Slaughter has been in and out of the lineup since suffering a high ankle sprain in the Sept. 4 season opener with Purdue, and the fear was that the injury would linger for the entire season.
The ND training staff has recently uncovered a significant bone bruise in Slaughter’s heel and has begun treating it.
“We were able to, really I think for the first time, figure out why this thing has lingered for so long,” Kelly said. “He feels really good. He’s not there yet, but I think for the first time since the Purdue game, we’re all feeling mentally better that we could be going in the right direction.”
Attention to detail
The Notre Dame offense had its typical light Thursday, cleaning up loose ends, working on tempo. The ND defense, though, was fully padded and still heavily involved in the grunt work.
“We spent a little bit more time in full gear with our defense, just to give us another day of that kind of offense,” Kelly said of Navy’s triple option and its extensive use of cut blocks.
“It’s really about training your eyes for three days and then playing off the cut block. Those are the things everybody struggles with.”
Looking way ahead
Reader Jim Small points out that Notre Dame’s recently released 2012 football schedule includes 10 opponents recognized as former national champions by one organization or another.
The AP, which began rating teams in 1936, recognizes seven as such - Oklahoma, Miami, USC, Pitt, BYU, Michigan State and Michigan.
In any event, six games are away from ND Stadium in 2012, including USC, Oklahoma, Michigan State and Miami.
“I thought it was a pretty strong schedule,” Kelly said when asked about his impressions of it. “That’s why I came to Notre Dame, to play those kinds of teams in those venues. It’s pretty exciting. If I looked at it as, ‘Boy, could we throw in a couple of I-AAs,’ why would you come to Notre Dame? That’s the kind of football I want to play.
“We’re not at that position where I can say our football team is ready to win all those games, but that’s where we’re going to get to. And, hopefully, by 2012 this football team can come out and display the other side of the ledger: ‘Man, we’ve got to play Notre Dame this week?’ And that’s how I look at it.”Staff writer Eric Hansen: email@example.com 574-235-6470
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