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September 29, 2013

Hendrix provides change of pace

NOTRE DAME, Ind. -- After Notre Dame’s first three drives resulted in two interceptions, a punt and a 14-0 deficit, Irish head coach Brian Kelly took senior quarterback Tommy Rees out of the game and sent in Andrew Hendrix.

Kelly did not make the switch because of the two interceptions or the quick deficit. He had planned on it all week, hoping to add some flavor to his offense.

“We’re just trying to diversify the offense a little bit, trying to add some more looks,” said Kelly after the 35-21 defeat. “He’s got some work to do. We’ve got to continue to work with him, but I think it gives us some things that the defense has to defend as well with him in there.”

That fourth Irish drive began with Rees completing an 11-yard pass to freshman receiver Will Fuller. Three plays later, exeunt Rees, enter Hendrix.

“It gives the defense another thing to prepare,” Rees said of the quarterback switches. “It helps us in certain situations. Obviously, we used him a lot when we needed a couple yards down in the red zone. It’s just another component of our offense.

“If Andrew can help us win games, there is no point in not using him.”

In short-yardage situations, Hendrix gained two first downs on three opportunities. He rushed for six yards on a 2nd-and-2 to close the first quarter, lost eight yards on a 3rd-and-2 shortly thereafter, and gained five yards on a 3rd-and-1 later in the second quarter.

“There was nothing in the Oklahoma package other than we wanted to be a little bit more diversified, help our third down package,” Kelly said. “Make sure that now you have to defend the quarterback, and really just simply give us some more options in third-and-short. As you know, we struggled in some third-and-short situations. So that was primarily the reason.”

Ending the day with five carries for 18 yards, Hendrix’s impact was successfully minimized by Oklahoma, preventing Hendrix from breaking any long runs, as he did against Air Force in 2011. In that 59-33 victory, the then-sophomore broke one run for 78 yards and gained a total of 111 yards on six carries. Sooners head coach Bob Stoops credited his own quarterbacks for a strong defensive response to a look he had not scouted at all, as Hendrix had not taken a meaningful snap yet this season.

“He was able to run some in the zone-read, but fortunately we see it every day with Trevor Knight and Blake Bell,” Stoops said. “So we’re pretty used to it. Even though we didn’t prepare for it for them, we’re used to seeing it and how we go about defending it.”

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