Entering his second season as offensive coordinator, Chuck Martin has been thrown another curveball. With the departure of Everett Golson, Martin has to lean on another quarterback and likely chuck a large portion of his playbook into storage for a year.
But after reading portions of Martin’s interview with Blue & Gold Illustrated, excerpted from Blue & Gold’s 2013 Football Preview, it appears that any quarterbacking by committee is out the window, with this being Tommy Rees’ offense to run.
While others have talked about using Andrew Hendrix in goal line situations and getting Malik Zaire’s athleticism onto the field, Martin will lean on his veteran quarterback.
Here’s what Martin said about Zaire and Hendrix and their ability to help early:
“It’s way too early to even guess with Malik. He’s a high school senior and knows about this much of our offense [displaying a pinch between his thumb and finger]. He wants an evaluation. I told him, ‘I’ll give you an evaluation when you’ve been here long enough to be comfortable to get an evaluation.’ There are going to be situations that are going to come in a game that he’s never even seen in practice.
“At the end of fall camp I might be able to give you a little better answer with Andrew. As the third quarterback last year, he hasn’t had any reps with us in a long time once last fall came. We need to get his mind set and get him focused back on being a guy that can go into the game, compete at a very high level and help us win games.”
Obviously, Martin has said plenty of nice things about Zaire as well, citing his uncanny ability to pick up the Irish offense quickly, but asking any true freshman to walk in and contribute for a team with BCS aspirations is a tall task. And while there are still Irish fans that believe Hendrix has the skillset and natural ability to be a dangerous weapon in the offensive attack, Hendrix enters his senior season with just as many question marks as he had as a freshman.
Still, it’s certainly not doom and gloom for Martin, a guy who never seems to lose optimism. He hinted at the ability to do more in the passing game this season than last, and Rees certainly has shown a proficiency for being an accurate passer and good pre-snap, which will give the Irish some more options than they had last season. (Yes, he’ll need to improve on the turnovers he made in 2011.)
“We can definitely develop in some areas,” Martin told Blue & Gold. “You’re in the second year with this offensive staff intact and the kids kind of get what’s going on, so there’s going to be some growth. There were some things we would have liked to do last year; we just couldn’t do them, or weren’t ready to do them.”