SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- A clear-cut pecking order exists among Notre Dame's quarterbacks. Andrew Hendrix isn't challenging Tommy Rees for the starting role, and Malik Zaire isn't challenging Hendrix for the No. 2 gig.
While coach Brian Kelly may hope to avoid using a true freshman in Zaire, he said Monday he'll have no reservations about inserting Hendrix into the mix.
"I'm confident that Andrew can help us win this year," he explained. "And if I think I can insert him at any time to give us that, I am not hesitant to do that. I'll go to the bullpen and ask him to help us."
The most logical situations in which Kelly and offensive coordinator Chuck Martin would insert Hendrix would be to run read-option plays, something a less-than-mobile quarterback like Rees won't be called upon to do.
"Obviously, he would be a guy that we would feature some more Q-runs, like we did with Everett Golson," Kelly said. "But he can still throw it, he can 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 in our system."
But Hendrix only recorded two rushes and two throws after Rees returned last fall, and both came in relief of Rees, so the lack of playing time wasn't necessarily the product of Everett Golson being the starter.
In the only full game Rees played -- Oct. 20 vs. BYU -- Hendrix came in with Notre Dame down by seven late in the first half. He rushed for 14 yards, threw a two-yard pass to Troy Niklas and was subbed back out.
2011 saw Hendrix have a more involved, but still limited, role in the offense behind Rees. While Kelly may laud Hendrix's ability to run an offense and throw the football, he's only been used sparingly in the past.
Kelly didn't necessarily say Hendrix will see more playing time in 2013, although at the least he's likely to get into more situations than he did in 2012.
"The evaluation is always about, for me, can you help us win football games," Kelly reiterated. "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."