Andrew Hendrix Stanford

Hendrix, Kiel ready to move into starting roles


While only two quarterbacks remain on Brian Kelly’s scholarship depth chart, two departed signal-callers are on their way to taking over starting jobs at other programs. Last weekend, former Irish quarterback Andrew Hendrix capped off a strong spring with a nice performance for Chuck Martin’s Miami RedHawks.

Hendrix, who earned his degree from Notre Dame and will play out his eligibility in Oxford, completed 16 of 23 passes for 243 yards and a touchdown. The Cincinnati native returns to his home state and continues with his former Irish offensive coordinator, who was his typical self when asked if Hendrix was set to be named the starting quarterback.

“There’s no naming,” Martin said. “You spend five minutes out there and he’s clearly our No. 1 quarterback. Everyone knows it. For the public, you can name him if you want. But everybody on the team knows who the No. 1 quarterback is.”

Winning the starting job might not be the most enviable spot on the baron Miami roster. After finishing last season winless and hardly competitive, Martin is rebuilding the program from the foundation. And he’ll have three former Irish players to help him in this first season, with Lo Wood and Alex Welch joining Hendrix in Oxford.

After the spring scrimmage, Hendrix talked about the experience playing under Martin and how that should help expedite the rebuilding process.

“After two years of playing in this offense, I think I know the ins and outs,” Hendrix said. “And that’s helped me bring the other guys along. And when you have other veterans out here like myself,  Lo Wood, even Alex Welch, it really helps to break down the learning curve and get us where we want to be.”

Meanwhile, 45 minutes away another former Irish quarterback is ready for his star turn. Last month, Gunner Kiel supplied hope for the future of Cincinnati football when he completed 17 of 22 throws for 300 yards in the Bearcats spring game. Running Tommy Tuberville’s No. 1 offense in the first half, Kiel looked sharp as he stretched the field with some vertical throws.

After the offense received a public scolding from Tuberville, Kiel’s performance seemed to lock in his role as the team’s starter, though injured quarterback Munchie Legaux could be back and healthy before the start of the season.

After the game, Kiel had the sound of a guy that was ready to step into the role of starting quarterback.

“I want to play perfect every game,” Kiel said. “I came out here with a chip on my shoulder to get better and compete have fun and play fast because that’s what we are good at. So it was fun. I definitely enjoyed my time and I’m ready for the season to begin.”

If Irish fans are looking for a fun Saturday on the Irish’s off weekend in late September, tune in to Miami vs. Cincinnati, where Hendrix and Kiel will face-off at Paul Brown Stadium.



Irish prepared to take on the best Navy team in years


Brian Kelly opens every Tuesday press conference with compliments for an opponent. But this week, it was easy to see that his kind words for Navy were hardly lip service.

Ken Niumatalolo will bring his most veteran—and probably his most talented—group of Midshipmen into Notre Dame Stadium, looking to hand the Irish their first loss in the series since Kelly’s debut season in South Bend.

“Ken Niumatalolo has done an incredible job in developing his program and currently carrying an eight-game winning streak,” Kelly said. “I voted for them in USA Today Top 25 as a top-25 team. I think they’ve earned that. But their defense as well has developed. It’s played the kind of defense that I think a top 25 team plays.”

With nine months of option preparation, Notre Dame needs to feel confident about their efforts against Georgia Tech. Then again, the Midshipmen saw that game plan and likely have a few tricks in store.

As much as the Irish have focused their efforts on stopping Keenan Reynolds and the triple-option, Navy’s much-improved defense is still looking for a way to slow down a team that’s averaged a shade over 48 points a game against them the last four seasons.

Niumatalolo talked about that when asked about slowing down Will Fuller and Notre Dame’s skill players, an offense that’s averaged over 48 points a game during this four-game win streak.

“We’ve got to try our best to keep [Fuller] in front of us, that’s easier said than done,” Niumatalolo said. “We’ve got to play as close as we can without their guys running past us. I’ve been here a long time and we’re still trying to figure out how to do that.”


Navy heads to South Bend unbeaten, defeating former Irish defensive coordinator Bob Diaco‘s team just two Saturdays ago. And while Diaco raised a few eyebrows when he said Navy would be the team’s toughest test of the year (they already played a ranked Missouri team), the head of the UConn program couldn’t have been more effusive in his praise.

“I have been competing against Navy for some time and this is the best Navy team I have seen for, let’s say the last half-dozen years,” UConn coach Bob Diaco told the New Haven Register. “I could click on footage from three years ago and see a lion’s share of players who are playing right now in the game as freshmen and sophomores. They have a veteran group, a strong group, a talented group and they look like the stiffest competition among our first four opponents.”

As usual, there will be those who look at this game as the breather between Clemson and USC. That won’t be anybody inside The Gug. So as the Irish try to get back to their winning ways in front of a home crowd, a complete team effort is needed.

“I’ll take a win by one,” Kelly said Tuesday. “That would be fine with me.”


Kelly confident Robinson will rebound

Notre Dame v Florida State

Corey Robinson‘s season was already off to a slow start. And that was before a difficult night at Clemson. The junior receiver came into last weekend with only four catches, held out against UMass after a pregame tweak of his knee put a scare into the Irish.

Robinson’s knee checked out fine. But mentally, it appears that the sure-handed junior is struggling.

Just before halftime against the Tigers, Robinson failed to reel in a long catch that would’ve given the Irish a much-needed touchdown heading into half. Early in the fourth quarter, a high throw from DeShone Kizer on the Irish’s first failed two-point conversion play slid through Robinson’s hands. Made worse was a mental mistake by Robinson, the Irish needing to use one of their second half timeouts when the junior wasn’t on the field.

Coached hard on the sideline by Brian Kelly and coached up by his position coach Mike Denbrock (as we saw on both Showtime and Fighting Irish Media’s ICON), the staff is doing it’s best to get Robinson’s confidence back.

With some wondering if Robinson’s struggles should open the door for talented freshman Equanimeous St. Brown, Kelly talked about their belief that the junior will return to form.

“Corey Robinson is going to get the job done. I had a very lengthy conversation with him yesterday,” Kelly said Tuesday. “I believe in Corey. Corey’s got to believe in himself, and he will. He’s got to go attack the football. He’s letting the football come to him. He’s letting it eat him up a little bit, but I believe in Corey.”

There’s no better place to showcase that belief than against Navy. The Midshipmen don’t have a defender physically capable of matching up with the 6-foot-5 Robinson, who will likely face his share of single coverage with Will Fuller likely demanding safety help.

Then it’s just a matter of Robinson showing the hands and confidence that made him one of last year’s most consistent performers.

“Once he starts attacking the football, I think we’re going to see somebody that can make the plays that we expect him to make,” Kelly said. “So I’m optimistic that we’re going to see the guy that we need to see on Saturday.”