SOUTH BEND – Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly has an idea of who the Irishs starting quarterback will be in the season opener, but he wants everyone to know that it is only an idea.
I dont want to make this more than it is. I have not decided, Kelly said during a news conference Friday.
The only thing that is decided is that incumbent starter Tommy Rees will not play against Navy on Sept. 1 in Dublin, Ireland.
The junior, along with senior linebacker Carlo Calabrese, is suspended for the first game because of a May 3 arrest.
That means the Irish will have a first-time starter when they kick off the season with either junior Andrew Hendrix, sophomore Everett Golson or freshman Gunner Kiel getting the call.
But that decision will take time.
Honestly, I would tell you its going to take some practices for us to even get the reps to separate (the quarterbacks), Kelly said.
Ideally wed like to in a weeks time say, all right, heres your quarterback. Thats what everybody would want to do because then you get the continuity with your offense. We just have to take this one practice at a time before we get into those specifics.
The closest Kelly got to specifics about how the decision will be handled is when he said that the Irish will have more 11-on-11 practice situations to evaluate the quarterbacks.
We have to put our players, in particular the quarterback, in as many situations that put 11 players out on the field at one time, Kelly said. Half-line, seven-on-seven, inside drill, all great drills, dont get the quarterback to the level that we need to.
He also said the 6-foot-2, 210-pound Rees, who started 12 games last season and threw for 2,871 yards with 20 touchdowns and 14 interceptions, will have plenty of opportunities to stay sharp during camp.
Not every rep that you take is a rep towards Navy, Kelly said.
Hendrix is the only quarterback with game experience among the three eligible to start the opener.
The 6-2, 220-pounder played in five games last season, completing 18 of 37 passes for 249 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions.
He also ran for 162 yards on 25 carries, scoring one touchdown.
The 6-foot, 185-pound Golson didnt play last season, but he showed potential in the spring game, throwing for 120 yards with two touchdowns and running for 25 yards.
The 6-4, 210-pound Kiel enrolled early to take part in spring practice.
In the spring game, he completed 5 of 10 passes for 51 yards with a touchdown and an interception when he played the entire second half with a running clock.
Even though the quarterbacks are inexperienced, Kelly said he will not allow growing pains to be an excuse.
I dont have any patience for that, Kelly said. You know me, I want it done the right way. We have to have a quarterback that we can trust thats going to take great care of the football and get us in the right place.
As we move forward here, its developing that trust with our quarterbacks and not accepting anything less than that level of trust of taking care of the football.
Kelly is also keeping his options open after the first game when Rees returns to the mix for the starting spot, and he didnt rule out using a two-quarterback system.
I dont know if weve taken anything off the table relative to the quarterback position, Kelly said.