Notre Dame Football: Brian Kelly's Future with Fighting Irish Will Depend on QBs
As head coach of the Notre Dame football program, Brian Kelly has some degree of control over his future with the Fighting Irish.
But after a 16-10 record through two seasons in South Bend, Kelly's prospects down the road may ultimately lie in the hands of three young quarterbacks.
Tommy Rees has been suspended for the season opener in Dublin, Ireland, after pleading guilty to two misdemeanor charges: illegal consumption of alcohol by a minor and resisting arrest. That comes after he threw 14 interceptions last season.
So, if Rees ultimately fades in his junior season with Notre Dame, you have Andrew Hendrix, Everett Golson and highly touted freshman Gunner Kiel.
Hendrix is a junior this season, but he wasn't particularly impressive in limited action last season. He completed 18 of 37 passes for 249 yards and one touchdown to two interceptions. That included going 3-for-8 for 24 yards and an interception in the Champs Sports Bowl against Florida State.
Golson took first-team reps on Saturday, although he has yet to take a snap in the regular season for the Fighting Irish. On the other hand, Golson may have shown more expedient progress while at Notre Dame than Hendrix.
Kelly said of Golson on Saturday, per ESPN:
He had a better spring game in our evaluation, so he got the first shot. Andrew had a really good practice today, so there's a chance he could be the first tomorrow. I think that's kind of where we are right now. We're so close with those guys at this point.
As for Kiel, as promising as he is, it's a lot to ask of a freshman to come in and turn around a program.
Who will grab the starting job for the season opener?
My money's on Golson to start the opener, but whoever ends up taking the reins this season, he may end up directing Kelly's future.
This is the kind of season that can either lift a head coach or destroy him. Notre Dame starts off playing Navy and Purdue, then it gets tough. The Fighting Irish go on to play Michigan State, Michigan, Miami, Stanford, BYU and Oklahoma. They end with USC at the Coliseum.
Even if Notre Dame fields a stellar defense next season, it's unlikely the team gets past those opponents without quarterback play being vastly better than last campaign.
Kelly can guide his young quarterbacks, but his future at South Bend ultimately depends on if they are up for the challenge.
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