Turnover-prone QBs draw ire of Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly
BY SETH GRUEN For Sun-Times Media April 21, 2012 9:58PM
Tommy Rees (above) was criticized by coach Brian Kelly for exhibiting bad judgment with his passes during Notre Dame's spring game. | Joe Raymond~AP
Updated: May 24, 2012 8:21AM
SOUTH BEND, Ind. — If Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly decided to skip the Blue-Gold spring game on Saturday, he wouldn’t have missed much.
A 42-31 victory for the Notre Dame defense looked too familiar for the offense. The unit committed six turnovers, none more unnerving than interceptions thrown by Tommy Rees and Andrew Hendrix.
Kelly sent the quarterbacks a public message they’ll remember heading into this summer’s voluntary workouts. In particular, he challenged Rees to recognize when to concede a punt instead of forcing a throw.
“Two interceptions in particular where we’ve seen that movie before,” Kelly said. “So we’ve got to move past that.
“This summer they’ve got to help themselves. The guy that really commits himself to do the details this summer is probably going to be the guy that’s going to be the starter.”
Rees, Hendrix and Everett Golson rotated taking snaps in the first half, which featured timing commensurate to a real game.
Admitting that early enrollee Gunner Kiel isn’t up to speed on the offense, Kelly played him the entire second half — two eight-minute quarters with running clock — when less of the playbook was used.
The most exciting of offensive combinations came when Golson and running back George Atkinson III were on the field. They were the best playmakers of the backfield combinations.
Atkinson had 15 carries for 127 yards but fumbled twice. Golson threw for a team-high 120 yards and was the only quarterback without an interception. But he needed Kelly’s direction from the sideline to get the offense set.
“It’s a possibility of having a game-changing play,” Golson said. “But at the same time, like myself, it’s also kind of a hassle because you never really know what you’re going to get with it.”
Kelly appeared excited about the duo’s potential, but noted that they are too much of a liability.
Golson, a freshman who has gone through two spring practices after enrolling early last season, has not shown the development that experience should yield.
“Both of those guys are exciting, electric players, but they are a heart attack for me,” Kelly said.
“[Golson’s] got to get the plays in quicker, he’s got to recognize the signaling. If I’m not out there getting guys set, making sure he knows the play, we’re going to have flags thrown all over the place.”
All of the quarterbacks are approaching the summer with a starter’s mind-set.
“You’ve got to have that mentality,” Rees said.