Notre Dame football: Andrew Hendrix takes scholarly approach to QB battle
Posted: 08/10/2012 at 1:15 am
By: Rachel Terlep
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Quarterback Andrew Hendrix (12) practices at Notre Dame in South Bend on Saturday. (Truth Photo By Evey Wilson)
Notre Dame quarterback Andrew Hendrix (12) drops back to pass the ball to Cam McDanile (33) during practice Saturday. (Truth Photo By Jennifer Shephard)
Andrew Hendrix ¬ (Photo Supplied) ¬
That alone sounds intimidating, but there’s also a fair chance he’ll be the starting quarterback for the Irish season opener on Sept. 1.
Let’s hope there’s room for sleep in that schedule.
Hendrix is locked in a quarterback race with teammate Everett Golson, both battling to be named the starter for the Navy game in Dublin, Ireland.
While Golson is an early fan favorite and has seen the majority of first-team reps in the first week of pre-season practice, Hendrix is shutting his eyes and ears to the outside world.
“You can’t think about that or else you’ll get caught up and lose sight of what you’re doing out there,” Hendrix said of the talk surrounding the quarterback dilemma. “There’s so much going on for us quarterbacks, especially those of us who haven’t done it like Tommy (Rees) has — 18 wins, that’s unbelievable. We don’t have however many wins Tommy has. So every single second, we have to focus on the individual play. We can’t get caught up in that outside stuff.”
During practice, he doesn’t stew on Golson repping ahead of him. In fact, Hendrix and head coach Brian Kelly said both quarterbacks are getting equal snaps with the first-team unit.
But when Golson is in, Hendrix is watching, studying.
“I’ll stand behind (Golson) and make the reads, regardless of what he does,” he said. “Obviously he’s a great player, but I have to focus inwards instead of outwards. I can see him doing great things, but it’s about how I can help.”
Hendrix knew turnovers were the bane of the team last season, and coaches have stressed since spring the importance of cutting down the interceptions and fumbles.
If the signal callers can hold onto the ball, the rest of the offense can take it from there.
“Our team is so good around us,” Hendrix said. “(The quarterbacks) don’t have to win the games. We need to get the ball to our horses, let the playmakers do their jobs and just minimize mistakes,” Hendrix said. “We moved backwards sometimes last year. As long as we’re moving forward and (avoiding) negative plays, we’re going to be very difficult (to defend).”
Over the summer, Hendrix could be found studying in the film room, immersing himself with footage of last year’s games.
“Take every rep you would see on film and don’t look at the outcome, read it out yourself,” he said of his process. “See how you would do versus the play, see how the play came out, what I could have done better. Just sitting behind and letting the play pan out in front of me.”
Outside of the film room, Hendrix doesn’t hesitate to name the person who he has turned to with any position-related questions.
“Tommy Rees,” he said. “There is no one who knows this offense better than Tommy Rees. I tell him, ‘If you see anything, let me know,’ because he knows his stuff. Any time I was curious about a read or (if) it’s debatable, I just go to that guy.”
Like Rees, Hendrix’s popularity around Notre Dame Nation has ebbed and waned with the ever-changing mood of the team’s fanbase.
The Cincinnati native debuted against the Air Force last October as part of a special package and finished 4-4 for 33 passing yards and six carries for 111 rushing yards.
He continued to shine in the special packages the rest of the season, and fans clamored for him to start ahead of error-prone Rees.
Once Hendrix threw an interception in the Champs Sports Bowl that allowed Florida State to score its go-ahead touchdown and once Golson exploded onto the scene in the Blue/Gold spring scrimmage, a lot of the pro-Hendrix excitement disappeared.
While Hendrix isn’t focused on winning over the hearts of the fans, he is focused on his summer studying winning over the mind of Kelly.
By his own evaluation, the August Andrew Hendrix is far and away different than the April Andrew Hendrix.
“It’s not even close,” he said of his improvement compared to where he was in the spring. “I’ve been working on throwing, but especially the defensive part of it, understanding defenses, understanding how our schemes apply to different defenses. It’s been worlds different than in the past.
“It’s still early in camp. You make mistakes, you learn from them, but I don’t think my mistakes were as bad as they were in the spring.”