Notre Dame Football: Is It Time to Name a Starting Quarterback?

James ToljCorrespondent IIApril 22, 2012

STANFORD, CA - NOVEMBER 26:  Andrew Hendrix #12 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in action against the Stanford Cardinal at Stanford Stadium on November 26, 2011 in Stanford, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The Blue-Gold game capped off the end of spring football Saturday, and fans should be excited about the prospects of the 2012 Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

But while one quarterback, Everett Golson, shined a little brighter than the rest with his two-touchdown first half (at least in a fan's perspective), it doesn't seem like Brian Kelly is any closer to deciding who will be the guy come September.

In fact, Tommy Rees and Andrew Hendrix were considered the front-runners for the starting spot by many analysts before the spring game. Golson's performance just made Coach Kelly's decision much more difficult.

Making a choice soon and sticking with it may be in the best interest of the team. The player who is slotted as the starter could take the majority of snaps this summer rather than sharing the workload evenly with the other quarterbacks (at least with the first team).

However, Kelly and his coaching staff just aren't ready to name the starter yet.

Gunner Kiel, who had a subpar game Saturday, looks to be the only one clearly out of the starting mix, but even he hasn't been ruled out by Coach Kelly.

As for Rees, Hendrix and Golson, each player has something special that could be brought to the team.

Rees' experience and grasp of the offense are an asset, but his poor decision making and lack of athleticism have him at odds with a large portion of the fanbase.

Hendrix, who has some experience as the Notre Dame quarterback, is extremely athletic for a 6'2", 220-pounder and has a strong arm, but he needs to see the field better.

Golson is incredibly elusive, quick and like Hendrix, has a rocket for an arm, but he hasn't been able to secure Kelly's confidence when running the offense.

Golson did have the best game statistically of the three on Saturday (11-of-15 with two touchdowns and no interceptions), but Coach Kelly's post-spring game comments weren't exactly an endorsement.

When asked to comment on Golson's game, and if it was a surprise, Kelly said "Yeah, we come at it from different perspectives.The stats really don't mean anything to me." Kelly added, "What I didn't like, is, you know, he's got to get the plays in quicker. He's got to recognize the signaling. Um, if I'm not out there getting guys set and making sure he knows what to play, we're going to have flags thrown all over the place."

Kelly then stated, "So, um, those things (statistics) really don't mean as much to me as they do managing the offense, and, and ugh, we're making progress there, but we're nowhere where we need to be."

Golson will be going into his second year with the team, and while one should assume he would know less about running the offense than Rees or Hendrix, who both have game experience, Coach Kelly still expects a lot out of the young quarterback from South Carolina.

As for Hendrix and Rees, Kelly wasn't enamored with their performances Saturday either.

Both players threw an interception leading Kelly to comment, "We saw some errors that, unfortunately, that, that are all too familiar."

Coach Kelly plans to make a decision this summer on who will start, but with each quarterback having a lot to work on before they are ready, wouldn't the player destined to start be better off getting more time to work on his shortcomings than the others?

Well, for Kelly, the jury is still out on whose job it should be.

But Kelly hasn't exactly closed the door on more than one quarterback playing either. And if he plans on playing more than one guy, then an elongated competition begins to make more sense.

All three (Golson, Hendrix and Rees) could end up playing this season, but it might be to their detriment by stymieing much-needed development.

Ideally, Kelly will see that one player has improved enough in order to name him the starter early this summer, but that's rather unlikely.

The more likely scenario is that Coach Kelly will keep fans on the edge of their seats all summer saying that each player is essentially neck-and-neck (sound familiar?).

Coach Kelly is in a dilemma though. He has three guys who can go out and win games for the team this season, but at some point, he will have to choose the player with the highest ceiling and give him time to develop on the field.

For as much as coaches and fans would like spring and summer camp to fully prepare a quarterback for the upcoming season, no practice will prepare a player enough or more than actually learning on the field.