Offensive coordinator Charley Molnar, now with a load slightly lighter thanks to Ed Warinner’s promotion to run game coordinator, talked about his quarterbacks yesterday, shedding light on the four-man race this spring.
Much was made of the decision to roll four quarterbacks, with Andrew Hendrix and Everett Golson joining part-time starters Dayne Crist and Tommy Rees in the rotation for reps this spring. But head coach Brian Kelly mentioned the time he committed to scripting plays with his offensive coordinator this spring, working to install packages for each of his four options, and building a knowledge base that’ll help each one of them contribute (if needed) come fall.
While Dayne Crist has taken most of the first team reps this spring with Rees working behind him, Molnar and Kelly have taken to shaking things up in as spring heads into its final 10 days.
“We mixed it up,” Molnar said yesterday. “Tommy took first team reps, Andrew Hendrix took first team reps. Nothing’s etched in stone. Everybody is going to get a chance as we go through this last week to work with the first team. To be really fair in our judgment, you want to work with the best offensive line, the best receivers, and the best tight end.”
With Crist coming off another knee surgery and Rees a somewhat proven commodity, all four quarterbacks continue to get the reps they’ll need to develop, though that won’t stay the case forever, essentially pitting Hendrix in a battle with Golson for snaps as the dual-threat quarterback option.
“I really believe we’ll have enough time to do it,” Molnar said. “We get enough reps in practice that I don’t think anybody’s really being shortchanged at this time. Eventually we’re going have to narrow a field down to three rather than four. When that time comes, you’ll see it and Coach Kelly or I will let you now what we’re doing.”
Until then, both Golson and Hendrix will take live reps with the defense, working to install the running portions of the spread option into an offense that missed that element last season with Crist and Rees.
Kelly has a reputation for playing a lot of quarterbacks, but someone would have to get injured, or perform well below expectations for all four to take consistent snaps. That said, if you’re building a program, you’re building it on competition, which is why you spend the time to give all four quarterbacks reps with the No. 1 offense. Could you imagine a quarterback like Zach Frazer getting reps with the No. 1 offense when he was fighting for playing time? (Or any of the quarterbacks behind Jimmy Clausen or Brady Quinn for that matter?)
Golson or Hendrix will see the fall next spring, but it’ll likely be in an option role. The quarterback that can do that best, as well as keep the defense honest, will be the guy taking the specialty snaps when Crist or Rees is out of the game.