Notre Dame won’t decide on a starting quarterback for this weekend’s game against Brigham Young until Saturday, head coach Brian Kelly said Thursday evening.
Sophomore Everett Golson, who has topped the Irish depth chart since August, is still recovering from a concussion he received in the fourth quarter of last week’s win over Stanford. Golson practiced with the team Wednesday and Thursday, but has yet to show he’s fully prepared to step back under center against the Cougars.
“He’s getting better,” Kelly said. "He picked up his play from yesterday and got better today. Tomorrow he’ll have another workout and we’ll make a decision Saturday.”
Kelly said his decision was based on monitoring Golson’s health, not on the quality of his play during recent weeks. Golson fumbled three times against the Cardinal and the Irish offense has largely not found a consistent rhythm during the first half of the regular season.
Junior Tommy Rees has played in five of Notre Dame’s first six games and took roughly 60 percent of the first team reps when Golson missed practice early in the week, but he isn’t necessarily the first choice to replace him. Kelly said fellow junior Andrew Hendrix had a strong week of practice and all three are available if needed on Saturday.
“I prepared all three of the quarterbacks,” he said. “They’re all at that level where I can consider them. I want to see Everett for 48 hours. I don’t think there’s a cookie cutter approach to concussions. You want to see how they handle exertion.”
Hendrix played in mop-up duty in the season opener against Navy, but that is the only action he has seen sense splitting time with Rees in the final two games of the 2011 season. The more athletic of the upperclassmen, Hendrix gives the Irish offense the running threat that Kelly wants to have at the quarterback position.
The only quarterback not in contention to see the field this weekend is freshman Gunner Kiel. The five-star recruit from southern Indiana has worked primarily with the scout team so far this season, but attends all of the position meetings and is able to work with the other quarterbacks during some drills each week. Kiel has also traveled with the team on all of their away games so far this year to get used to life on the road.
“I want him to feel the travel and the preparation necessary,” Kelly said. “I think it’s really worked well. We’ve had to tweak the schedule a little bit to make sure I can get him some one-on-one work as well.”
Kiel developed a slight case of tendinitis in his elbow this week and threw much less with the scout team than he had during the first six weeks of the season.
The Irish did not practice inside Notre Dame Stadium Thursday afternoon for the first time leading into a home game this season. Kelly opted to give the grass a chance to rest after a rainy and turf-pounding game last Saturday.
The field will be covered by a tarp from Thursday night until gameday this week to keep it as dry as possible. Neither team will hold their walkthroughs in the stadium tomorrow.