Tommy Rees, or Andrew Hendrix? That’s the question Irish fans are asking as the team prepares for Thursday’s bowl game with Florida State. Brian Kelly has already anointed tommy Rees the starter, but not necessarily the closer. Kelly will use both quarterbacks in the bowl game.
And with a whole month to prepare, he’s had ample time to get Andrew Hendrix up to speed.
“He's worked with the first unit, he didn't do much first unit work when we were using him as a situational player," Kelly says of Hendrix. "Building a relationship with the first group and the offensive line, I think obviously that's changed in his approach. And he knows he's not going in there with a package, he's going in there to run the offense.”
Rees & Hendrix have basically split the first team reps evenly during the team’s bowl practices. As a result, Hendrix is now capable of doing a whole lot more, than just providing the opposition with a different look.
"I've come a long way," Hendrix admits. "Even, I can tell, in the practices right now, I'm more comfortable. Being able to sustain drives, in the Stanford game, I know what it takes, I know the consistency, and not just one or two plays, to do well, I know that I have to be more consistent through the entire drive and that's what it takes to run this offense."
So where does that leave Rees? Despite the late season struggles, Notre Dame is still 12-3 all-time when Rees starts. And even though Hendrix is gaining ground, Rees seems unfazed by the cloud uncertainty swirling around him.
"I'm not in the business of trying to prove things," Rees says. "I just want to be the best QB I can be for the team and just play better than I did against Stanford, that's the bottom line, is I need to do a better job of leading this team and preparing us to win."
Brian Kelly says that both quarterbacks have looked strong in the practices leading up to the bowl game.
“We'll see how they play. They look good on the practice field but I know that’s only one part of the evaluation”.
The other part, and the most important part of that evaluation, comes Thursday evening at 5:30, against one of the top rated defenses in the country.
"We're going to play them both and see how it goes," Kelly says. "Florida State's really good. So we've got to see how both those guys handle the situation. They're both prepared, we've had plenty of time, there's no excuses, both of them can go in there and play the game and we'll just kind of see how it goes."