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SOUTH BEND – It's hard enough just being a student-athlete at Notre Dame, let alone with all of the distractions and pressure heaped on a quarterback in South Bend. For Everett Golson and Andrew Hendrix, it's a skill that they have learned to handle, just as if it were a corner blitz read that Fighting Irish coach Brian Kelly wants them to pick up.
The sophomore Golson and junior Hendrix are involved in a battle to be the starting quarterback against Navy on Sept. 1 and not a day goes by that the media and Irish Nation wants to know which guy has moved in front of the other.
“It's pretty crazy,” Hendrix said. “But I like keeping my head down and just worry about myself. When you get on the field you forget about everything (outside) and it's about the team and executing the play that was just called in.”
Hendrix said that he not only has to drown out the media noise and chatter from fans, but his family as well.
“I really don't like talking about football with my family,” Hendrix said. “They love talking about it. I talk to them about it a little bit, but I like being low-key and mellow about things.”
On a rare occasion that the media are allowed to watch snippets of a workout, every drill, every pass – even those in warm-ups – are over-analyzed and read into. Add into the mix that the Notre Dame coaching staff is also watching their every move, on would think that the pressure might be unbearable. However, both players have demonstrated the ability to block out the chaos.
“I don't try to get into (the circus),” Golson said. “I just try and stay focused on the task at hand. Me and Andrew both are not into the media. We are just getting into the film room and make each other better.”
Both players recently explained that the weak areas of their games have been addressed and they feel good about their progress. The coaches too have praised the young players for their work in the film room and on the field, which according to Kelly, requires so much more diligence for that position compared to others.
“The quarterback has more on his plate than any other position on the field,” Kelly said. “First of all, he has to take care of the football. He's got to communicate to the offensive line. He's got to be able to take all of the signaling. I don't think that you can compare that position with any other position on the field.”
Entering the spring game in April, Golson felt confident that he had the physical tools to play the position well. However, as Kelly noted, the physical aspect of playing quarterback is only half of the equation and Golson has learned that.
“I've gotten better in my knowledge of the game,” Golson said. “Going out of the spring game, that was a big thing that I had to develop and I think that I did that.”
Hendrix doesn't have an abundance of experience, but he did learn something from appearing in five games as a sophomore. He explained recently that his ability to learn is a key component to his success this fall through the first couple of weeks of training camp.
“The thing that has really surprised me about myself this camp is my ability to learn,” Hendrix said. “If I make mistakes, then the next day I usually don't make them again. The more work that I get, the better I end up getting. Right now, toward the end of camp, I'm becoming a very good quarterback, maybe even better than I thought that I could be.”
Kelly has indicated that an announcement as to which player will start is not coming quickly. He said last week that entering game week (Monday, Aug. 27) he will begin to divide the repetitions leaning more toward the starter, but not entirely because the race is far from over.
“I think Monday we'll sit down and talk about how the reps are going to be distributed,” Kelly said. “But there is still so much learning going on for all of them. So it won't be as cut-and-dry as 'Here, you're my number one.'”