Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly will wait until shortly before the fifth-ranked Fighting Irish take the field against Brigham Young on Saturday to decide whether to start quarterback Everett Golson, who sustained a concussion, or to replace him with Tommy Rees or Andrew Hendrix.
”I don’t think there’s a cookie cutter approach to concussions,” Kelly said Thursday night. ”You want to see how they handle exertion. You want to see how they handle all the things leading up, film study, watching, and then getting back on the field. So I want to take the 48 hours that I have before I make that decision.”
Golson was cleared to practice Wednesday after sustaining a helmet-to-helmet hit against Stanford. Kelly said Golson picked up his play from Wednesday to Thursday and described his status as ”improving.” But he also said he divided the number of plays each quarterback ran at practice because he wanted to make sure they were all prepared to play against the Cougars (4-3).
Golson has started every game this season for the Irish (6-0) except against Miami, where he sat the first three plays because he failed to let coaches know he would be late for a meeting. Rees, who started 16 games the previous two seasons, has finished the games for Golson against Purdue, Michigan and Stanford.
The sophomore, who didn’t play last season, is 79 of 135 passing this season, a 58.5 completion rate, for 968 yards with four touchdown passes and three interceptions. He also has four fumbles and a 124.08 pass efficiency rating. He has struggled at times, but he has a strong arm, can run and Kelly says he is making progress. Kelly said Golson had his best four plays against Stanford just before he was hurt.
Rees, a junior who isn’t as mobile and doesn’t have as strong an arm, is 17 of 25 passing, a 68 percentage completion rate, for 968 yards with a pass efficiency rating of 154.45. Rees has a better command of the offense and no turnovers after committing 19 last season, a big reason why Kelly opened up the quarterback competition in the spring.
Hendrix, a junior, played in five games last season and in the season opener against Navy, completing 4 of 5 passes for 80 yards. Kelly said Hendrix ”had a good week.”