SOUTH BEND – Notre Dame football coach Brian Kelly is keeping his options at quarterback open as spring practice winds down.
The Irish close the spring session with the Blue-Gold Game at 2 p.m. Saturday, and senior-to-be Dayne Crist, sophomores-to-be Tommy Rees and Andrew Hendrix and early-enrollee freshman Everett Golson are still competing with each other.
And the scrimmage this weekend will not create a clear pecking order.
There is no way we would leave the spring game, unless something dramatic happens, where we would say we found the starter, Kelly said Wednesday.
Being able to wait until the fall to make a starting quarterback decision is a drastic change from where the Irish were last year. Crist was essentially designated the starter with no experienced quarterback behind him last spring.
Right now, if Coach Kelly came to me and said, This is the guy I want right now,’ I would be happy with any of the four, offensive coordinator Charley Molnar said. For the overall group, we are light years ahead of where we were last year.
Notre Dame should have a clearer picture on whether Hendrix or Golson can help them more after Saturday.
Kelly said Crist and Rees will have limited playing time because those two have shown what they can do.
Crist threw for 2,033 yards with 15 touchdowns and seven interceptions before his season ended after nine games because of a knee injury Oct. 31. Rees went 4-0 as a starter, throwing for 1,106 yards with 12 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He played in nine games.
This is going to be Golson vs. Hendrix, really, Kelly said. They are going to do everything. They are going to be live. They will run the ball. They are going to throw the ball. We will get a really good feel for both of those guys.
The 6-foot-2, 218-pound Hendrix and the 6-foot, 180-pound Golson are expected to provide more of a running element at quarterback. And each has a distinct style.
When Andrew runs the ball, he is almost like a fullback or a tight end, Molnar said. He is big and powerful. He will lower his shoulder.
Everett has got a cat-like quickness. He is not going to be a guy that will take on a safety or a linebacker and try to run him over. He’s going to try to use his speed and quickness to defeat the defender.
Saturday’s scrimmage will be played like a regular game for the first half and then a running clock in the second half said Kelly, who will wear a microphone in the second half for the Versus telecast.
While the Irish will divide into competitive teams, the offensive lines will be single units in green jerseys that switch between the blue and gold teams.
Linebacker Manti Te’o (knee), left guard Chris Watt (ankle) and receiver Daniel Smith (hamstring) will not play in the game.