SOUTH BEND, Ind. — The doomsday scenario Notre Dame's offense found itself in against USC doesn't appear likely to materialize Saturday when the Irish face Air Force in Colorado Springs.
Quarterback Tommy Rees said Wednesday he's "absolutely" ready to play Saturday after suffering a neck injury in the third quarter of Notre Dame's 14-10 win over USC last weekend.
"There were some things that were causes of concern," Rees said, declining to discuss specifics. "We've worked through those to now, and I feel comfortable with where I'm at."
Given Andrew Hendrix's poor play against USC, getting Rees back is welcome news for Notre Dame's offense.
After Rees left the USC game, Notre Dame gained 28 yards on 21 plays with Hendrix steering the offense. While the highlight of Hendrix's career may have come against Air Force — a 78-yard run at Notre Dame Stadium in 2011 — going into any game with him starting would seem to pit the 5-2 Irish in a precarious position.
"I think Andrew and I and (offensive coordinator Chuck Martin) expected him to play better," coach Brian Kelly said. "He did not."
Rees, though, saw Hendrix's struggles as a reminder that'll help his fellow quarterback improve — in that Hendrix is just one play away from having to come in and run the offense.
"The first time you get put into those situations it's tough — the first time I ever went into that situation was my freshman year against Michigan, and the first pass was an interception," Rees said. "It's a tough situation to be thrown into. I think he's handled it very well. Obviously he wants to play better, and he'd be the first guy to take accountability for that. But he's working hard in practice.
"Everyone on this team has confidence in his ability to go in there and play good football for us. I think it will help him realize how close he is to playing and what it takes. He'll continue to get better and play well."