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The Andrew Hendrix experience

Oct 11, 2011, 1:14 AM EDT

Andrew Hendrix

After a season and a half of waiting, Irish fans finally got to see quarterback Andrew Hendrix in action. Through a recruitment process that started with Charlie Weis, ended with Brian Kelly and had a brief dalliance with Florida coach Urban Meyer, Hendrix was always a player that piqued the interest of Notre Dame fans certain that the Ohio native had a skillset that made him a star in the making.

Yet Hendrix’s journey to the field wasn’t necessarily an easy one. Coming out of a high school program that ran the ball far more than it ever thought about throwing, Hendrix was less a ready-made blue-chip quarterback, but rather an intriguing prospect with lots of upside. If Hendrix were a baseball player, he’d be the flame-throwing high school righthander from West Texas. It’s hard not to notice the raw talent and physical tools, but it’s not all that easy to harness them.

While Hendrix was originally a Weis recruit, in many ways he’s the prototype of what Kelly is looking for in a quarterback. Walking onto campus as one of only three scholarship quarterbacks, Hendrix was so raw as a true freshman that the coaching staff would’ve likely gone to Luke Massa over Hendrix early last season, if only because saving a year of eligibility was so important for Hendrix as he learned the complexities of college football.

After watching the first 18 games of his college career, Hendrix was finally inserted into the gameplan against Air Force, and his impact on the game was immediate. Special thanks to Matt Casey and our video team, who did a great job pulling the snaps Hendrix took for the Irish offense. Here’s a detailed look at how Brian Kelly used Hendrix.

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It didn’t take long for Kelly to get Hendrix involved. After an opening touchdown drive, Theo Riddick took the first play of the Irish’s second possession around end on a reverse. Kelly then called Hendrix’s number on a 1st and 10 at the Air Force 45 with the Irish leading 7-0 and holding the momentum after Jamoris Slaughter forced Asher Clark to fumble. Hendrix’s first snap was a high percentage pass, and the worst play of his afternoon, with TJ Jones and Riddick mixing up a blocking assignments and Michael Floyd getting stuffed for a three-yard loss on a quick screen.

From there, Rees substituted back in immediately, driving the Irish into the Falcons red zone. Hendrix came back into the game later in the series, running the option with Jonas Gray around the right side. Hendrix ran hard around the edge, going for six yards and setting up a 2nd and 4 from the Air Force five-yard line. Rees substituted back in, and two plays later threw a touchdown to Tyler Eifert.

On the Irish’s next drive, Hendrix again entered on the second play of the series, this time completing a roll-out pass to Eifert, a simple out cut that Eifert turned into a big gain. Even if the throw was remedial, the zip on the ball was there, and Hendrix putting the ball a bit behind Eifert turned advantageous and helped Eifert slip his initial tackler. Again, Rees shuttled right back in, and two plays later he’d thrown his third touchdown pass in as many drives.

Hendrix’s success came mostly on the ground, with Air Force totally overwhelmed by the quarterback runs that Hendrix executed. Operating a simple zone read with great success, the 78-yard run was obviously the biggest gainer, but just about every time Hendrix decided to tuck it and run, the play was really well blocked and executed. (For a hilarious reaction to Hendrix’s almost touchdown jaunt, fast-forward to the 15:00 mark of’s latest ICON video.)

Kelly mentioned giving Hendrix six formations to operate from. He ran option to the left and the right, ran the zone read, and threw four passes, completing all four without much trouble — each one an easy read and throw. Still, the use of Hendrix might have been the most interesting — and encouraging — development of the day. We’ve seen various quarterback platoons stall out in offenses looking to develop multiple young players (see Texas’ attempts against Oklahoma last weekend), but to Kelly’s credit he used Hendrix perfectly, working him in and out of the series with little notice to opposing defenses.

Operating from the same framework, but running different plays will be a key strategic advantage for the Irish going forward this season. More importantly, it allows the Irish to unlock more of Kelly’s playbook, using Hendrix in the midst of up-tempo drives and bringing in the zone read running of the quarterback.  It may have taken a few games longer than people wanted, but it’s come at the perfect time, with the game of the year just around the corner.

  1. mattnef - Oct 11, 2011 at 8:41 AM

    I am by no means an expert on the spread offense but the runs by Hendrix seem less like ‘zone reads” and more like straight QB runs. With the backside tackle pulling on every run the “read” appears to be a pure fake with Hendrix following the pulling tackle into the hole. It was my impression that a zone read play employs zone blocking the defensive front to the strong side and reading the backside DE/OLB. Or has “zone read” just become a term to encompass all QB runs from the spread? I’m still picking up all this spread offense stuff but whatever it is called, if Hendrix can run it like that I can’t wait for a lot more of it against the University of Spoiled Children.

    • joeschu - Oct 11, 2011 at 10:15 AM

      It is a really good question, and it is awesome that we have that video package to look at.

      At first glance, the “read” looks like merely a fake, but each time, Andrew’s eyes are down field, and the AF backers do flow to the play side fake. “Keep” is the right read on both of those. When he does get the pulling lineman, you have to assume that the default is to keep unless there’s some obvious key on the play side to take advantage of. Clearly, that never developed, so he kept every time.

      With this on tape now, it’ll be interesting to see how people defend it and if we see occasions where the ends stay wide and we see a few more “give reads” out of Andrew.

      The coolest thing that will hopefully come from having this on tape is seeing SC’s safeties crash down when they key on zone read option. Suck them in with a few, then run it as play action and send #3 over the top on a deep post… mmmm… I can smell 6. The only worry would be Andrew getting too jacked up and sailing it 20 yes over Floyd’s head.

      • Keith Arnold - Oct 11, 2011 at 2:01 PM

        Matt – I’m characterizing Hendrix’s keepers w/a RB play fake as zone read. They may have been designed runs — the pulling lineman makes it seem that way, but that’s just the distinction I used.

        As for Nude’s point below that this will be “big problems” for USC, he has a point. That said, adding the final element of a QB keep to an Irish running game that’s AVERAGING 6.0 yards per carry is a very good thing, especially when you consider how efficient the passing game has been the past few weeks.

    • nddc21 - Oct 11, 2011 at 2:14 PM

      You are definitely right on some of those runs being essentially designed runs for the QB, less a zone read as they are counters with the QB as the intended ball carrier.
      I just read through this & thought the stills were helpful in elucidating the matter (from OneFootDown):

      Not sure if links to other blogs are allowed, but worth a look. And no, I have no vested interest in people reading that other site. Just tryin’ to be helpful.

  2. ndgiants11 - Oct 11, 2011 at 10:26 AM

    Here’s an in-depth look at Oregon’s zone read. I’m no X’s and O’s guru, but I still think it’s worth a read.

    • ndgiants11 - Oct 11, 2011 at 10:44 AM

      Joe sounds correct, I think Hendrix made the right read each time. Here’s another look at the Oregon’s zone reads/option attacks.

      • mattnef - Oct 11, 2011 at 11:14 AM

        Great video on Oregon, thanks!
        After watching this video (and listening to some additional analysis of the ND vs AFA game) I’m convinced that Hendrix was not reading anything, and that when the tackle pulls that is a strict QB counter run. Can’t wait to watch this Hendrix package develop over the rest of the year and watch the U$C linebackers fall all over themselves trying to defend it.

  3. nudeman - Oct 11, 2011 at 11:30 AM

    I loved Hendrix’s insertion Saturday, and if it’s possible to say he played a “perfect game” on a limited number of snaps, then he played a perfect game.

    A few other thoughts:

    1. I’ve read here and other places that this poses “big problems” for USC in preparing for ND. No it doesn’t. It’s not like they’ve never seen a running QB before, or a team with a change of pace QB. Is it something they have to add to their preparations? Yes. Is it a “big problem”? No. By far, ball security remains the most important performance metric.

    2. Where has Aaron Lynch been since his dominating MSU game? Seems like he’s come back to Earth.

    3. Back to Hendrix, if Kelly really wants to throw a wrinkle in that could catch USC off guard, he’ll let Andrew take a couple shots downfield. He’s supposed to have a rocket arm.

    4. TJ Jones needs some more touches. I’d love to see him run a reverse or two.

    5. Last on Andrew: Talented, no doubt. Great debut. Lots of upside. But I hope we don’t kill this kid here with unrealistic expectations. He’s a backup QB for a reason, and still hasn’t mastered the playbook. (BTW, how can that be? Seems like he should know it by now) Right now, he’s probably no more than a change of pace QB.

    • rarmitt - Oct 11, 2011 at 12:15 PM

      nude – on point 1, it really does pose a problem with personnel. Having a ‘high hat’ safety and CB on Floyd and then having to play option with 6 or 7 (3 or 4 to the play side) along with Eiffert available for short options routes on the back side can really pose significant problems. don’t think USC will have the gameplan to cope with that (although they might have in the past with Pete Caroll). On point 5, i don’t think we’re heaping big expecations. clearly he has an extremely limiterd role and was successful against a sub-par defense and i think the article is outlining that. More importantly, i think Hendricks success highlights the unlimited ‘potential’ for Kelly’s offense given a true dual threat QB……..

      • nudeman - Oct 11, 2011 at 12:50 PM

        I defer to you on the technical analysis you provide. Makes sense. I’m NOT saying it’s a “non issue” for USC. I’m just taking issue with posts I’ve seen in a number of places already that USC will have “big problems”.

        There is a tendency here and on other ND blogs to get carried away when a new player with some ability shows up. I’m just trying to be realistic.

        Is it “an issue” for USC? Yes. Is it a “BIG problem”? No. Somewhere in between.

        I’d say the keys to beating USC are, in order:

        1, Ball security (like we haven’t learned that)
        2. D Line putting consistent pressure on Barkley (Lynch, ya gotta’ show up)
        3. ND running game (will control the clock and set up passing game if they can run)

        That’s how I see it.

      • domer77 - Oct 11, 2011 at 1:29 PM


        First, how “you see it” is either (1) an overstatement of the obvious,( see above/below…Ball security in critical…REALLY?) or (2) a never ending bashing of Tommy Rees. You just couldn’t find it in you to throw any praise toward that young man. Quite sure you were most disappointed in his stellar performance last Saturday. Nothing to complain about in your senseless blogging if HE has a great day.

        Second, do you really think that Hendrix “Rocket Arm” will not be game planned by Monte Kiffen??? Never heard of the Tampa 2, I guess.

        Third in the immortal words of the goat blower, 8-1.

        Now get back to the mill, the second shift is reporting in 30 minutes.

    • notredamegrad - Oct 11, 2011 at 1:24 PM

      On Lynch seeming quiet against AFA, and also on concerns voiced elsewhere about Harrison Smith’s getting to the ball after yards have been gained:

      It’s important to remember the defensive approach against AFA’s option (and Diaco’s approach, generally): the aim is to refuse to give up big plays, contain the run game to short gains, make opposing offenses chew up the clock and risk TOs, penalties, miscues, etc., with long drives, and then buckle down in the red zone. Diaco described their style as less “disruptive” than some (meaning fewer opportunities for interceptions, sacks, etc.), but lower-risk. You exhaust offenses on long, risky drives with a strong rotation of big, physical players, instead of going for the high-risk, high-reward, interception-happy kind of defense that allows offenses to execute big plays.

      Defensive personnel were shifted around against AFA to account for the option and for Johnson’s absence. Lynch was working inside, where he fought hard, but which is not a natural spot for him – thus the seeming lack of big plays from him. We saw more from Tuitt at the nose and guys with experience against the option, like KLM and Slaughter. Smith showed up seemingly “late” and allowed minimal to moderate yards from ball carriers, but that “lateness” was the consequence of him being in position to stop big plays (they gave up only 3 plays of 20+ yards, and one ended with Slaughter’s strip). With the option, defensive players can’t play to knock the opposing teams’ heads off – they’ve got to play tight, disciplined, assignment football. The scoreboard (before the third team went in) showed that – they held AFA to 2 TDs in those 54 minutes.

      • nudeman - Oct 11, 2011 at 2:08 PM

        You seem upset.
        Just expressing my thoughts. Thought I could do that here without personal attacks.

      • nudeman - Oct 11, 2011 at 2:14 PM

        Fair enough on Smith. And Lynch for that matter too.
        Lynch will be fine, and I assume he’ll be back outside against USC where he’s comfortable. I hope he makes Barkley’s day miserable.
        Smith however scares me and before you attacke me like domer 77 has, I don’t think I’m the only one to express reservations about his coverage capabilities.

        As for domer77, I have expressed nothing but respect and admiration for the way Rees has played the last 2 weeks, but you have chosen to focus on the negative, haven’t you? Your problem, not mine, pal.

  4. nudeman - Oct 11, 2011 at 2:24 PM

    I don’t need the garbage and personal attacks here. I take the time to write carefully and not be over the top in my opinions, either way. Like others, sometimes I get edgy, but I don’t initiate insults. If some agree with my opinions, great. If some disagree, great.

    Why does it have to be an insult contest?

    But I’ve noticed a growing trend here over the few weeks I’ve posted that some, ESPECIALLY THOSE WITH THEIR ND ALUM STATUS IN THEIR NAME, love to insult and deride others’ opinions as if they are the only ones entitled to have an opinion on ND football.

    SO, A QUESTION FOR YOU KEITH: Is that the direction we’re headed in here?

    If so, please be honest and tell me. I don’t need the sh** and will go elsewhere. Or just stop blogging entirely.

    • notredamegrad - Oct 11, 2011 at 2:35 PM

      Nudeman, just ignore the people who sling personal insults around on here – they aren’t worth your time and responding provokes them. I hate to see the idiocy on here when people get mean – it makes reading through other insightful, helpful comments (yours included) unpleasant because you have to wade through the nonsense. But Keith has absolutely nothing to do with that. He writes intelligent analyses and then folks show up and talk meaningless trash about each other in the comments. Not Keith’s fault.

      • nudeman - Oct 11, 2011 at 2:44 PM

        First, I wasn’t referring to you in the remark about ND Alums. I’m sure you know that.

        Others though – and we know who they are – seem to think that if someone didn’t go to ND or – GOD FORBID – has a critical comment or dissenting opinion from their own, that makes them fair game in a personal way.

        My reason for asking the question of Keith is that he serves as the moderator (as well as the author). If he wants to sanction insults as part of the game here, just let me know. I don’t need it and will opt out.

        I know it’s not his fault.


  5. Keith Arnold - Oct 11, 2011 at 3:34 PM

    Guys –

    There are plenty of places you guys can rip on each other and debate ND football like jerks. As I’ve said a thousand times, I don’t want it to be here.

    Nude — There’s been plenty of times when you’ve been a little prickly yourself, so I think everybody here needs to relax and show a little respect for other commenters… and a little backbone.

    The problem with making grand declarative statements, like some of you are prone to do, is that you occasionally get called to the carpet for them. If you’ve continued to bang the Tommy Rees stinks drum, expect to eat a little crow. If you’ve been supportive of Jamoris Slaughter and finally want to gloat, expect some grief.

    Honestly — Most writers don’t even spend the time to read their comments because they’ve become a cesspool of anonymous morons slamming others, spewing idiocy, and turning the internet into a wasteland.

    I still check these comments daily because there are some of you that have smart things to say about ND football, and I spend every weekend live-blogging with you all because it’s a great way to interact.

    Collectively, let’s step our commenting game up. Stop being jerks to each other, stop hammering your own point of view, and just share your POV.

    It shouldn’t be that hard.

    • nudeman - Oct 11, 2011 at 5:02 PM

      To be clear:

      1) I’ve never said Tommy Rees “stinks”. Not once. I don’t use that type of immature prose. He played poorly the first 2 games and I was still unsure why Crist was pulled. That made Tommy’s inconsistent play that much more maddening.

      2) I have been giving the kid credit for his much improved play since the MSU game (4 wks). Check my posts. I don’t go out of my way to smoke guys, but if a QB throws a bunch of INTs or a RB fumbles consistently or a DB gets beat every game, a blog is where you go to say “get that guy out of there”, or whatever.

      3) It’s never personal unless you take unprovoked shots at me. And here, I refrained from doing so with 77domer, or whatever his name is. If I keep getting attacked personally for giving my football opinions I’ll opt out. No problem.

      • domer77blowsgoats - Oct 11, 2011 at 6:31 PM


        I can’t believe I am actually reading this. You are one of the quickest on the trigger to rip other people. You are 65 years old and worried about some good natured ribbing on a message board full of some of the best ND supporters out there?

        In response to your claims above:

        1&2) I couldn’t possibly list in one comment box the berating you have spewed against Rees, supporting since MSU? So you had no comments about his performance against Pitt?

        3) In my last post you commented right away on my elation over the win and for Kelly stating what I have been stating all along, this team is 8-1 with him taking the first snap – whether people disagree or not – the point is you jumped all over it

        Take it in stride my man, ’tis the nature of blog message boards – people want substantive discussion (I realize I am not a contributor of such so no need to jump on that one), not stating the keys to victory that everyone already knows…

        and complaining to the author of such a great blog? really? what would the boys at the mill think?

  6. oldestguard - Oct 11, 2011 at 4:53 PM

    Enjoyed the article and great clips Keith. (and thanks nddc21 & ndgiants ) .

    Hendrix showed a great burst on that long run, especially for a 220# guy.

    USC has a number of things to worry about.

  7. jerseyshorendfan1 - Oct 11, 2011 at 5:14 PM

    I love the psychology of rolling out Hendrix and the option just to give USC a little more to think about. They have Cal this Thurs night which shouldn’t be a cakewalk and we have the bye week which couldn’t have come at a better time. I did see where Barkley had 450+ passing yards against Arizona so I hope our secondary brings their A game for the Trojans. Maybe some type of rear view mirror device for Gary Gray’s helmet is in order. He does seem to have stepped up his game over the past 2 weeks so maybe his issues are behind him. This game vs SC, second only to Michigan, is the one I hope we can make a definitive statement in. GO IRISH!

  8. don74 - Oct 11, 2011 at 7:31 PM

    Only way Hendrix debut could have been better was if he was left handed and from Seattle

    • nudeman - Oct 11, 2011 at 9:15 PM

      Good one.
      Something about a “Watchtower” comes to mind

  9. barneysbullet - Oct 11, 2011 at 7:51 PM

    Hey Keith, found this blog several months ago and have immensely enjoyed being part of this “family” ever since!

    I check several times a day, always hoping for another post…keep it up, I really enjoy all your articles.

    And to my fellow commenters, 95% of your stuff is informative and great…so the 5% that’s not I’ll just chuckle at or shrug off 😉

    Like the wise proverb says (in my words)…”always make sure that your words are sweet, ’cause you never know which ones your gonna eat!”

    Go Irish. *peace*

  10. nudeman - Oct 11, 2011 at 8:36 PM

    You’re one of the most acerbic guys here, and of course you advertise your Alum credentials in your handle. You as much as anyone have the attitude that “I went to ND so I therefore know more and my opinion counts more than yours”. Admit it. You regularly run people down in a personal way if you don’t like what they write. I’ve seen it several times and you’ve been admonished here before.

    Your crap and that of that other clown are frequently over the line and into personal territory. Unprovoked.
    What’s your problem, anyway? It’s a football message board. Why the insults? Unhappy with your life? Oh, forgot; you went to ND. Sorry.

    You’re right – I have been critical of Rees. A case could easily be made that he lost them 2 games. I know there were other factors too; just saying Tommy had a significant role.

    So to be fair, when he’s played well I’ve made sure to give credit. I’ve even defended him a time or two, but you ignored that because it fits your narrative.

    He got a nice win vs. MSU and played well; won an ugly one on the road at Pitt; and he’s played OUTSTANDING the last two weeks. There’s now no doubt in my mind now that he should be the #1 QB, and I’ve previously said so. Are you from Lake Forest, btw? Next door neighbor of the Rees family?

    Now why don’t you agree with me, going forward to keep it about football and not personal? Are you capable of that?

    • domer77blowsgoats - Oct 12, 2011 at 1:09 PM


      The difference is I never claimed to be otherwise, in fact always point out the fact my comments are ridiculous/trolly…

      If you carefully read my screen name, it is directly calling out another person who frequently posts on this board, I am not advertising my ND alum status even though I am one…

      Admonished? what world are you living in?

      Unprovoked? reading you hypocrisy is more than enough provocation – for example take the last line in your post above – “Now why don’t you agree with me, going forward to keep it about football and not personal? Are you capable of that?”

      You extend the olive branch then snap it in half when questioning my capability of being sensible?

      So to you sir, are you capable of not being a hypocrite? Or is that a trait mandated by Local 582 United Mill Workers?

      • nudeman - Oct 12, 2011 at 2:09 PM

        OK, I give up. What is this constant reference to the mill? Or now United Mill Workers?
        Care to let me in on the inside gag? I’m not getting it.

        Listen, you and a few others take exception and get personal on the occasions I’ve disagreed with you. Particularly so on Rees. His play was hardly above scrutiny in the early going this year. In my posts on him I was definitely critical, and my comments were frequent as well. But usually tried to be balanced. I always acknowledged he had some sort of special ability to lead drives in tough moments. But his turnovers were maddening.

        Yesterday I posted a messg which included something about ball security. Never said a damn word about Rees, as the point goes for everyone on the team. And you replied with a message so dripping in insults and sarcasm it was nauseating.

        I never stooped to saying stuff like “Rees stinks” or “Rees sucks”, etc. `

        You seem to be overly vested in his success and take it very personally when he gets criticized.

      • domer77blowsgoats - Oct 12, 2011 at 2:59 PM


        Umm your version of revisionist history is way off, simply scroll up and see who responded to your post, not I sir.

        This is why your posts deserve such commenting, the constant 180 degree flips in opinions, your quickness to point out someone’s formatting is wrong, critizing the author for terms that are part of everyday pop culture, ridiculing someones texting vocabularly then using “BTW” in your 20th post of the day 5 minutes later…

        And a key to the game being ball security? My unborn zygote knows as much

        Quick diagnosis – acute hypocritical cynicism caused by prolonged exposure to dark, poorly ventilated, dust filled areas such as . . . mine shafts

      • nudeman - Oct 12, 2011 at 5:40 PM


        OK, you win
        I’m out

        Have a good life. Then FOAD.

        Sorry Keith. The other board I visit is devoid of assholes like this guy and his near-namesake.


  11. barneysbullet - Oct 11, 2011 at 9:31 PM


    As you correctly point out, TR should be #1 QB. But that only happened with more gametime and the continued development that brings…yes?

    Not trying to confront – just some honest questions…at what point did you believe TR deserved #1 QB spot? Before or after last 2 games? If after, wouldn’t you agree that all the gametime since USF has helped his progression?

  12. barneysbullet - Oct 11, 2011 at 9:33 PM

    …also, which 2 games did TR lose?

  13. nudeman - Oct 11, 2011 at 9:51 PM

    I don’t know what the exact moment was when I became OK with TR as #1. Probably after Purdue when he showed he could get through a game without rookie mistakes. Then he really cemented it against USAF.
    I still maintain that Crist was deserving of more than 30 min of football, but hey – that horse has left the barn. No reason to revisit that now.

    Yes, I certainly agree that all time he’s played now have helped. And maybe none more so that Pitt, where he didn’t look very good most of the game. You’ll remember that the announcers were ALL talking about inserting Crist, so it wasn’t just me. But he gutted it out, directed a great drive to score a late TD and they held on to win.

    Even when I was hammering Rees (as were many others here) I was always careful to acknowledge that he has a certain “something” that allows him to play his best when it counts the most. I even said that he reminded me of Joe Montana that way.

    Montana was not an all time “great” at ND. He was good/very good. Remember he was only a 3rd round pick. And his physical skills were unimposing. But at ND I remember saying he was the greatest 4th quarter QB I’d ever seen. When it mattered most, he’d calmly direct a TD drive. I was in college then and remember most of his games like they were yesterday. Rees has some of those qualities. So maybe there’s something special here. And again, I was saying that even when I was critical.

    • nudeman - Oct 11, 2011 at 9:58 PM

      Oh, one other thing. It is unfair for me to say Rees lost the USF and UM games. I probably DID write that at the time, but that was my Irish rage at work. He had enormous help.

      But there is no doubt that he contributed mightily to those losses. Particularly at UM where even though directing a go ahead drive late, he threw 2 picks and had that ridiculous whiff of a throw near the UM goal line as they were going in for another score that would have iced it.

      But if you want to argue and blame others for both those losses, fair enough and you’re not alone. I’m just saying he made a significant contribution and mistakes that a more seasoned QB like Crist might not have made. If Dayne had played those games would they have won them both? One? Neither? We’ll never know.

    • bernhtp - Oct 12, 2011 at 9:22 AM

      Re: “Montana was not an all time “great” at ND. He was good/very good. Remember he was only a 3rd round pick. And his physical skills were unimposing.”

      Huh? Montana was amazing when he was at ND, provided a national championship, and had many of school’s most iconic moments. He was certainly “great” and not only retrospectively because of his NFL career.

      I like Tommy Rees, but to generalize from a couple of characteristics creates a very flawed comparison. Both were cool in demeanor, but Joe always had a palpable swagger that exuded confidence and inspired others. While Joe didn’t have a huge arm, it was stronger (relatively) than Tommy’s.

      The physical comparison really ends at their athleticism. Joe was a great multi-sport athlete with speed, quickness, hops, etc. Joe was most dangerous when rolling out. He could gain yards on the run, but more importantly, he could throw the ball accurately from any position, speed and angle. The ability was memorialized in “the catch” after ND, but we saw many examples of this while in school. Tommy completely lacks this athletic ability and it shows not only in his lack of quickness and run threat, but also a very poor ability to throw on the roll or when flushed from the pocket.

      Despite Joe’s “great” college performance, he was pushed into the third round of the NFL draft for a few reasons that likely included concerns over durability (he missed a year at ND with a shoulder injury) and his lack of a huge arm. The scouts were obviously very wrong about Joe’s abilities, just as Dan Devine was wrong in keeping him off the field as much as he did. With that said, we will all be extremely happy if Tommy has a career at ND that garners him a third round pick.

      • nudeman - Oct 12, 2011 at 11:26 AM


        I still maintain he was not considered a “great” QB at ND, at the time. He was more towards “very good”.

        He undeniably had “great” moments; many of them. And his place in ND lore is fixed and unquestioned. Right at the very top. But he slipped to the 3rd round for reasons beyond durability. I’m not saying that was right (obviously a lot of teams would like to have had that one back); and he was a great athlete, no doubt. All I am saying is he was considered to have an average arm, and as we know the NFL puts a premium on that.

        But we can agree to disagree on this, right?

      • bernhtp - Oct 12, 2011 at 12:38 PM

        Re: “I still maintain he was not considered a ‘great’ QB at ND, at the time.”

        Well, I was actually at ND at the time, and I can definitely say that Montana was considered great. Even when he was riding the bench before his national championship and chicken soup Cotton Bowl, everyone knew Joe was The One (in The Matrix sense). There were student demonstrations, many articles in the Observer, alumni howls, and even a supposed death threat to Devine to start Joe. The reason: Joe was a winner. He exuded winning from every pore in his body. He had magic, he had charisma, and he almost always found a way to win when it counted. Joe was considered great then and there by almost any definition.

        I was also at ND during the ’73 national championship (I was there for six years in school, and then had a job in South Bend for another two) when Tom Clements manned the helm. Tom was someone who was very good and had his great moments (esp. the clutch pass to Robin Weber in the Sugar Bowl –, but he was never regarded with the same contemporaneous aura of greatness that Montana was.

        “But we can agree to disagree on this, right?”

        No, of course not. You’re wrong. Getting back to the main point, the comparison of Rees with Montana is heavily flawed on many levels.

  14. barneysbullet - Oct 11, 2011 at 10:25 PM


    Pretty much agree w/all that…

    Mad props on the Montana/Rees comparison…I’ve been saying it since last year!

  15. rarmitt - Oct 12, 2011 at 10:40 AM

    Everyone calm the f*** down and Chive On!

    Seriously, getting mad about others in a blog is the equivalent to the guy who starts a bar fight because someone accidentally bumped into him. I don’t know if you guys know it but i am an expert on ND football just like all of you….

    Nude – great comparison and is spot on. We wouldn’t be talking half as much about Montana is he didn’t do what he did with the 49ers. Here is the thay i see it: We could have either gone (1) with a questionable Crist stunting the development of Rees for another year and possibly preventing him from reaching his full potential before his time at ND or (2) Stick with Rees and develop him so that in year 4 he has gotten past year 2 & 3 mistakes already. Somewhat simple but as much as Kelly talks about winning now i think his current approach is focused on the development of underclassmen setting the stage for greatter success in 2012 & 2012.

    • tedlinko - Oct 12, 2011 at 12:49 PM

      BK is focused on winning now, AND developing the underclassmen. It isn’t an either/or proposition in any major college football program, and certainly not at ND. To be successful you have to be able to do both consistently. If we weren’t winning already, the grumbling by ND Nation that BK isn’t up to the job would be in full swing. At the same time, he has to be working for the future (as he is).

      Think about the Weis era — 2 BCS games followed by 3-9… Yeah, I guess developing the underclassmen is kinda critical too…

      • rarmitt - Oct 12, 2011 at 2:34 PM

        no doubt. i just beleive his thinking in going with Rees was to focus on the future rather than the present – something Weis was never good at…

  16. nudeman - Oct 12, 2011 at 1:56 PM

    True. It’s a win now/win later proposition.
    On a semi related issue, check out this article today from the Chi Tribune on Dayne Crist and his “future” at ND.
    He’s graduating in December and has a yr of eligibility left. Could transfer and play somewhere else next year, without sitting out a year. Only thing that is clear is that his future is very very limited at ND.,0,990516.story

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