Clear pecking order at QB, Kelly says

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Andrew Hendrix is the backup quarterback this fall at Notre Dame. If Brian Kelly's 23-year track record is any indication, that could mean playing time for the redshirt junior.

"There's a clear pecking order here, 1-2-3. Andrew is clearly the number-two quarterback and ready to play," Kelly said. "I think I made it pretty clear that if I believe Andrew can help in winning football games, I am not a guy that's going to be hesitant to put him in at any time to help us win. The evaluation is always about, for me, Can you help us win football games?

"Andrew can help us win. And we'll see if there's a time and place necessary for him to come in and help us win games. Right now Tommy is the guy."

Hendrix saw spot duty behind Tommy Rees in 2011, completing 48.6 percent of his passes for 249 yards and a touchdown while adding 162 yards and another score on the ground. He saw action in just three games last season, going 5-for-7 for 55 yards and rushing for another 41 yards.

The 6-foot-2, 226-pound Cincinnati native's blend of size and speed has always made him an intriguing prospect at the position, where he could be useful as a complementary piece in packages like the read-option.

"He does things differently," Kelly said. "Obviously he would be a guy that we would feature some more in Q-runs like we did with Everett Golson. He could still throw it. He could still run the offense. We're not going to change into an entirely different offense. But we would certainly feature some more quarterback-inspired runs and reads, which are already within our system. But I think you've already seen that from him.

"He's got enough of a resume that you know, and everybody else that is watching Andrew play knows, kind of what his background is. He's got a strong arm, he's athletic, he can run. He's just more comfortable in our system of offense and running our offense."

What that means for spring enrollee Malik Zaire remains to be seen, though Kelly has said that he wants the southpaw working with the regulars and not with the scout team.

That would put Zaire at No. 3 in the pecking order, though he's on an accelerated learning curve after the offseason departure of Golson.