Rees day-to-day; Kelly expects Hendrix to play better

Rees day-to-day; Kelly expects Hendrix to play better
October 20, 2013, 2:30 pm
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Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said Sunday Tommy Rees is day-to-day with a strained neck, but expects the senior quarterback to practice Tuesday.

But if Rees -- who Kelly said felt better Sunday, but still was sore -- can't go Saturday at Air Force, Kelly expects backup Andrew Hendrix to play better.

Hendrix completed none of his four pass attempts and rushed six times for five yards as Notre Dame's offense ground to a halt after Rees' injury against USC.

"I don't think Andrew nor myself or (offensive coordinator Chuck Martin) could expect him not to perform at a higher level," Kelly said. "I think he's probably as disappointed as anybody. Those are basic things he's got to do better."

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Basic things, like not throwing a short out route at T.J. Jones' feet. Kelly said nerves probably affected Hendrix's play, but didn't view it as much of an excuse. 

"He's been in it too long for those things to affect him," Kelly said. "He's got to play better, period.  He's going to have to be challenged to play better, and he knows that."

Regardless of whether Rees can practice this week, Kelly expects to get Hendrix more first-team reps. Before Rees went out with his injury, Hendrix checked in for one play but didn't get it off as a false start was whistled. Those penalties have been a theme for Hendrix's sporadic involvement in Notre Dame's offense, which Kelly said needs fixing no matter what Rees' status is. 

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"It's inexcusable and it shouldn't happen," Kelly said. "We're going to have to give him more reps with the first group because clearly when he goes in there with the first group, there is something in his voice inflection that's a little bit different. We're going to have to do a better job coaching that."

And too, if Rees can't practice this week it means freshman Malik Zaire will get more reps. Kelly didn't address who he would've played against USC had Hendrix needed to come out, but it's clear that guy would be Zaire -- meaning Notre Dame would have to burn his redshirt eight games into the season.