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Notre Dame

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Associated Press
The return of Tommy Rees from suspension will require Notre Dame coaches to decide where he fits in as a backup quarterback.

Rees’ return sets up backup QB contest

– Everett Golson left no doubt that he is No. 22 Notre Dame’s No. 1 quarterback in a 50-10 rout of Navy in the season opener.

But with the return of Tommy Rees from suspension, coach Brian Kelly will sort out who will back up the 6-foot, 185-pound sophomore in the home opener against Purdue (1-0) on Saturday.

Rees was suspended for the opener, along with linebacker Carlo Calabrese, after the two were arrested in May.

Rees is 12-4 as a starter and has played in 22 games. Even though the 6-2, 210-pound junior was mostly a spectator as Golson and Hendrix battled for the starting job in the fall. Kelly said he has seen Rees improve.

“I have a sense; we are pleased with it, or we wouldn’t move him into a position where he could get some reps as a backup,” Kelly said of Rees’ improvement after the quarterback threw for 2,871 yards with 20 touchdowns and 14 interceptions last season.

“We saw some of the things that we wanted in terms of ball security and good decision making, and we’ll continue to work on that. But Tommy is a very valuable player to our program. He’s got a lot of experience, and we are happy to have him.”

Hendrix entered Saturday’s win over Navy in the third quarter. The 6-2, 220-pound junior completed 4 of 5 passes for 53 yards and ran for 27 yards on six carries.

Hendrix led Notre Dame (1-0) on two scoring drives against Navy, engineering a seven-play, 42-yard drive that ended with a Nick Tausch 34-yard field goal and an eight-play, 68-yard drive that was capped by a 9-yard touchdown run by Robby Toma.

Kelly said Rees will probably need more work than Hendrix to be ready to play this weekend, but both backup quarterbacks will be sharing reps at practice.

“It will be, for me, probably more about making sure that we get Tommy up to a level where, you know, he can be sharp if he’s in a position where he had to go into the game, and I don’t know if he’s got enough work yet,” Kelly said. “He’ll get work at two, as well as Andrew, and we’ll see how that progresses during the week.”

While sorting out his backup quarterback situation, Kelly will also be preparing his defense for multiple Purdue quarterbacks.

Caleb TerBush, who was suspended for the Boilermakers’ 48-6 win over Eastern Kentucky last weekend, will start against Notre Dame. But Purdue coach Danny Hope said he also plans to use Robert Marve and Rob Henry.

Marve threw for a career-high 295 yards and matched a career-best with three touchdowns against Eastern Kentucky, and Henry threw for 77 yards with a touchdown and an interception last weekend.

“They will run the quarterback more with TerBush than Marve,” Kelly said. “They will move the pocket more. Marve is a very good football player; Henry, as well, was a starter there before he hurt his knee.

“So you’ve got three very capable quarterbacks, and they do some things different. We’ll attack the game plan knowing that we’ll have to defend all, but TerBush will definitely be more involved in the running game than Marve was.”

tkrausz@jg.net

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