Notebook: Who will take first snap for Notre Dame?
Sophomore Everett Golson, junior relief specialist Tommy Rees, and, yes, even junior Andrew Hendrix are all in play to take the first offensive snap from center Saturday for the fifth-ranked Irish (6-0) in what was shaping up to be a defense-fest with BYU (4-3) anyway.
It has nothing to do with Golson's herky-jerky growth curve, per ND coach Brian Kelly, and everything to do with the sophomore, first-year starter distancing himself from the concussion he suffered late in the fourth quarter last Saturday against Stanford.
"Game-time decision," Kelly said Thursday evening after practice. "I don't think there's a cookie-cutter approach to concussions. You want to see how they handle exertion. You want to see how they handle all the things leading up to -- film study and watching and then getting back on the field.
"I want to take the 48 hours that I have before I make that decision."
Golson missed Tuesday's practice, but passed his final post-concussion hurdle from ND's medical team, a computer-based cognitive test, on that day and was back on the practice field by Wednesday.
But not full throttle.
"We wanted to bring him in gradually," Kelly said. "He did a pretty good job Wednesday, (but he didn't get) all the reps, because I had two other guys I had to get reps (for). So we're going to use Friday to kind of clean up some red-zone stuff and then I'll be in a better position to look at who's the starter."
Golson has started five of ND's six game, the exception being the 41-3 rout in Miami (Fla.) on Oct. 6 in which Kelly sat the QB the first four plays of the game for being late to a team meeting. If he starts Saturday, he'll have a shot at being just the third Irish quarterback in the past 30 years to win his first six collegiate starts.
Rees has made 17 starts for the Irish in his career, but has been even more effective as a closer this season. Hendrix, who was No. 2 and pushing for No. 1 at the end of last season, has been the third option most of the season and hasn't played since the Sept. 2 opener against Navy after the game had long been decided.
"Andrew had a good week," Kelly said.
Whoever plays will be facing the team ranked fifth in total defense and seventh in scoring D.
Freshman Gunner Kiel, by most accounts the top quarterback prospect nationally in the last recruiting cycle, is spending most of his practice time this fall as ND's scout-team quarterback.
That means he typically runs the opposing team's offense against the No. 1 Irish defense, but Kelly is making sure the Columbus, Ind., prodigy gets a taste of the Irish offense as well.
Kiel is included in all of the QB meetings and gets some one-on one instruction with Kelly and offensive coordinator Chuck Martin during practice. He also watches some of the 7-on-7 periods late in practice and occasionally gets some throws in with the second team.
"I've kind of tweaked the schedule," Kelly said. "He's made good progress."
Kiel did experience some elbow soreness recently. Though it is not considered serious, Kelly backed off Kiel's work volume this week.
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