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A sneak peek

Allan Joseph | Monday, April 23, 2012

It was just an intrasquad scrimmage, but that didn’t stop Irish coach Brian Kelly from enjoying Saturday’s 42-31 Gold win in the Blue-Gold Game.

“There was a nice feel around campus today,” he said. “For all of our players, you could sense an excitement around campus … Our guys got the opportunity to play before a nice crowd today, and I think it really excited them getting out there and seeing the support that we had out there.”

Most of the eyes in that crowd were focused on the four quarterbacks who saw playing time in pursuit of the starting position – juniors Tommy Rees and Andrew Hendrix, sophomore Everett Golson and freshman Gunner Kiel. Kelly said each of the quarterbacks showed both progress and areas for growth.

“I think there were strides made, but clearly we’re not there yet,” Kelly said. “We’ve got a lot of work to do with all the quarterbacks to get them to the level that we want – and we have a high bar set for them.”

Rees completed 7-of-14 passes for 84 yards and one interception, struggling to find his accuracy at times. However, the returning starter expressed confidence in how his spring went overall.

“There is obviously one ball [I’d like to get] back, but other than that, I feel like things went all right,” Rees said. “Obviously that interception put a damper on things. But I’m happy with how spring ended.”

Golson had the closest thing to a breakout performance, completing 11-of-15 passes for 120 yards and two touchdowns while losing one fumble. Despite his game-best stat line, Golson was not satisfied with his game.

“Coach Kelly has made it apparent to me that I have developed the art of [the quarterback position], but the science is still something I have to work on,” he said. “If I had to assess the day I would say it was average. I made some good plays, but there are still some things that I have to clean up.”

Hendrix completed 4-of-9 passes for 51 yards while throwing one touchdown and an interception. Hendrix was unhappy with the mistake that led to his interception.

“I started off strong, obviously threw an interception, which is not what you want,” he said. “The thing about this spring versus any other time is that I know better (than to make mistakes). I knew what I should be doing and it’s just attention to detail at this point.”

Kiel saw no action in the first quarter but took every snap under center in the second half, which was shortened to two eight-minute quarters with a running clock. Kiel completed five of his 10 passes for 57 yards and one interception but was hampered by his limited knowledge of the playbook, Kelly said.

“We can’t run everything with Gunner at this point. He just doesn’t have the knowledge base,” Kelly said. “So from that standpoint, we gave him all the reps in the second half, and got him an opportunity to really feel like he was part of the game.”

Kelly said the eventual starter would emerge during summer workouts and fall practice.

“Now this summer, they’ve got to help themselves,” he said. “The guy that really commits to the details this summer is probably one of the guys that’s going to start it.”

Contact Allan Joseph at [email protected]