Notre Dame Football: The 2011 Irish Quarterback Dilemma
To start off year one in South Bend, Brian Kelly was presented with quite a dilemma: zero quarterbacks on the depth chart with starting experience.
In fact, the dilemma was even worse than that. Dayne Crist was possibly the only suitable candidate to take over for the early-departed Jimmy Clausen.
Behind Crist sat Nate Montana, a walk-on with very little starting experience at any level, let alone high-major college football. Behind Montana? Three ripe, 18-year old freshmen in Tommy Rees, Andrew Hendrix and Luke Massa.
Rees was considered too much of a project to contend for the job, Hendrix was serving a redshirt year and Massa never made a big enough impact before the starting job was announced.
To keep things short and to the point, Crist was given his chance. And to keep it even shorter, Crist ended his season with inconsistency and a torn-up knee. Now Kelly really had a dilemma on his hands.
Stepping in for the once-heralded Crist was Rees, the true freshman himself. The youngest of the quarterbacks on the roster, Rees proved to be a winner, beating Utah, Army and USC in the final three games of the season.
Who will be the starting quarterback in 2011?
Although he made plenty of mistakes along the way, Rees is slotted to start in Notre Dame's Sun Bowl appearance versus a feisty Miami defense. But before we get too far ahead of the prediction of Notre Dame's 2011 starting quarterback, there is also one more name to throw into the equation: Everett Golson.
Golson, a solid verbal out of North Carolina, is the quarterback that Kelly has been praying for since stepping foot onto the campus. With a perfect skill-set for the fast-paced, spread offense that is being installed at Notre Dame, Golson can get it done through the air and with his legs at will.
Now, let's take a look into the future: Rees has proven to be a winner, Hendrix has shown great promise on the scout team, Massa is an unknown talent at this point, Golson will be coming into camp with hype and Crist will be recovering from a second knee injury. At this point, it's anyone's guess as to who will be the starting quarterback of Notre Dame come next fall.
If the Irish pull out a victory against the Hurricanes, it would be easy to crown Rees as the winner. However, that won't be the case this year, as the dilemma has reversed itself: There is too much talent on the depth chart to field at once.
Will Kelly use a similar two-quarterback system as he did with Tony Pike and Zack Callaros in Cincinnati? It's a definite possibility with Golson's arrival. However, many Irish fans have been outspoken in the past on this idea and have seen it fail under Charlie Weis.
There are just too many questions to be answered before this "dilemma" can be resolved. Summer and fall camps will go a long way in telling who will be the starter.
That may be an annoyance for some, but time will tell all.
In the end, you can count on one thing: Kelly will field the best quarterback on his roster. And whomever that quarterback is will have earned his way to his new (or old) title.
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