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Hendrix spells Rees, sees time at QB in loss

Katie Heit | Sunday, September 29, 2013

Few starting quarterbacks are asked to leave the field, but Irish senior quarterback Tommy Rees trotted off the field for a replacement six times during No. 22 Notre Dame’s 35-21 loss to No. 14 Oklahoma on Saturday. 

Rees stepped aside several times to give senior quarterback Andrew Hendrix control during goal-line or short yardage situations. 

“It’s just another component of our offense,” Rees said. “If [Hendrix] can help us win games, there is no point in not using him.” 

Hendrix appeared on the field six times, threw one incomplete pass and rushed for 10 yards. Two of his carries resulted in first downs for the Irish (3-2).

Irish coach Brian Kelly said he brought Hendrix in to add some variety to the offense. 

“We’re just trying to diversify the offense a little bit, to add some more looks,” Kelly said. “[Hendrix]’s got some work to do. We’ve got to continue to work with him, but I think it gives us some things that the defense has to defend as well with him in there.” 

Kelly said the entry of Hendrix was not a reaction to the two interceptions thrown early by Rees, putting the Irish at a 14-point deficit in the first 2:45. The coach said adding Hendrix into the game was part of the original plan. 

“We didn’t abandon anything down 14-0,” Kelly said. “We stayed with it, and we moved Hendrix into the game. I thought we stayed within ourselves, got another score on the board.” 

Hendrix first appeared with eight minutes remaining in the first quarter, throwing an incompletion intended for senior receiver TJ Jones on second down. It was his only pass attempt of the day. Rees returned to the game with a 13-yard completion to Jones on the next play to give the Irish the first down. Hendrix appeared once more in the drive, rushing for two yards on first and goal to bring the Irish to the Oklahoma (4-0) 1-yard line. 

After a Notre Dame false-start penalty, Notre Dame completed the drive with its first touchdown when Rees completed a 6-yard pass to Jones to bring the score to 14-7. 

Hendrix appeared once more in the first quarter, turning in a 6-yard rush to gain the first down and bring the ball to the Oklahoma 46-yard line as the quarter expired. 

In three more appearances in the second quarter, Hendrix gained a net of two yards rushing for the Irish. He ran for an 8-yard loss on third down early in the quarter, forcing the Irish to punt on fourth down.  On Notre Dame’s next drive Hendrix rushed twice more for five yards apiece, the former resulting in a third-down conversion for the Irish. 

Sooners coach Bob Stoops said he hadn’t prepared his team to face a complimentary quarterback situation, but he wasn’t concerned about defending against it. 

“[Hendrix] was able to run some zone-read, but fortunately we see it every day with [redshirt freshman quarterback] Trevor Knight and [redshirt junior quarterback] Blake Bell,” Stoops said. “We got against each other almost every day, so we’re pretty used to it.  Even though we didn’t prepare it for them, we’re used to seeing it, how we go about defending it.”

Kelly said the Irish would continue to utilize Hendrix in future games as an added component on the offense. 

Contact Katie Heit at kheit@nd.edu