Hendrix seizes rare opportunity
Douglas Farmer | Monday, November 28, 2011
STANFORD, Calif. — When Irish sophomore quarterback Tommy Rees took a hard hit on Notre Dame’s first play from scrimmage Saturday, Andrew Hendrix was standing nearby Irish coach Brian Kelly with his helmet in hand. Seconds later, Hendrix was taking a snap from senior center Mike Golic, Jr.
“When Tommy goes down in the first half, I’m always ready to go in for a play or two,” Hendrix said.
Rees returned to the field on Notre Dame’s next drive, but after halftime, Kelly went with Hendrix all the way to the finish, and not because Rees was injured.
“In college football, the quarterback is going to get hit a couple of times,” Kelly said after the 28-14 loss at Stanford. “But [Rees] was not in a situation where he could not come back in.”
Rather, Rees’ six completions on 13 attempts for 60 yards had not produced enough. Add in two turnovers and zero points, Kelly saw cause for a change.
“We’re just trying to win games,” he said. “We’re trying to find ways to move the ball.”
Hendrix certainly did move the ball, finishing the day with 11 completions for 192 yards and a touchdown, as well as 20 rushing yards on 12 carries.
“Obviously there is more of a run-pass option when I’m in there, a little more mobile,” said Hendrix, also a sophomore. “Probably not as extensive of a knowledge of the passing game as Tommy has. You give a little, you get a little with me.”
Thanks to Hendrix’s limited snaps thus far, Stanford had limited knowledge of his repertoire, making his time in the lineup a learn-as-you-go experience for the defense.
“We felt like getting the ball on the perimeter with some of their loaded-box looks might help us out,” Kelly said. “Andrew did a pretty good job in some instances … It was his first real live situation, competitive.”
Hendrix’s primary target echoed Kelly’s praise. Hendrix connected with senior receiver Michael Floyd five times for 67 yards and a touchdown.
“He played well,” Floyd said. “He stayed poised. Not having that much experience, to be able to go in there and execute on plays that coach called, he did a good job.”
Despite the change in play-calling and general offensive strategy, Floyd said the receivers do not notice when their quarterback switches.
“I know all the quarterbacks,” he said. “Whoever coach Kelly decides to put in the game, they have the ability to make plays. I see them all the same.”
Nonetheless, with Hendrix in the game, Notre Dame relies on the package of plays he knows explicitly.
“It’s a pretty extensive package for me,” Hendrix said as he tried to describe the motley of plays on his personal wristband. “I have a large number of plays where if I were to come into the game, I would feel comfortable with.
“Even when my number was called in the second half, it didn’t get too much out of the package. There were a couple pass plays that he asked that I was comfortable with since I executed them in spring ball and summer practices.”
Amid the added pass plays and taking every snap, Hendrix still had time to realize he was Notre Dame’s primary quarterback in Saturday’s second half. Even the Cincinnati native was caught off guard.
“I was a little surprised,” he said. “I didn’t expect to come in and play the entire half. I thought I was going to keep switching off, but when I was called, there was no looking back.”