- Matt Fortuna, ESPN Staff Writer
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. - Brian Kelly has an idea who Notre Dame's starting quarterback will be Sept. 1 against Navy. Twenty-nine days before the opener in Dublin, Ireland, and one day before his team opens fall practice for the 2012 season, the Irish head coach knows little more than that.
"I don't want to make this more than it is. I have not decided," Kelly said at a Friday news conference, one day after saying on a local radio station, WSBT-AM, that he has an idea in mind of who will open the season under center. "The question was asked, do you have an idea? I've got an idea, but an idea is all I have. It's not like it's this guy and we are set for it, or I would be less than honest in answering the question relative to reps.
"I've got an idea, but we have to see how this plays out. We have to rep these guys, we have to give them a lot of work, a lot of situations. We'll be doing a lot more 11-on-11 where we have to put our players, in particular the quarterback, in as many situations that put 11 players out on the field at one time. Half line, 7-on-7, inside drill, all great drills, don't get the quarterback to the level that we need to. So a lot more 11-on-11 reps for this football team to help us answer that question."
Kelly named last year's Week 1 starter, Dayne Crist, during the first week of classes, less than two weeks before the season opener. He said that there is currently no announcement date in mind, as it will take several practices for the quarterbacks to get enough repetitions for separation.
Asked if he could play two quarterbacks in the opener, Kelly replied that every scenario remains in play.
"I don't know that we've taken anything off the table relative to the quarterback position," he said. "Ideally, I'm like everybody else in this room -- I'd like to have one quarterback and have him be the guy. But we won't know until we get out there and put the pads on and get live action and see how these guys react to those scenarios and situations."
The only clarity at the position heading into camp is that Tommy Rees, the only of the Irish's four signal-callers with starting experience, will be left behind for the opener as he and linebacker Carlo Calabrese deal with the fallout of their spring arrests at an off-campus party.
Kelly, who said he deals with discipline on a case-by-case basis, will try to strike a balance this month between finding a Week 1 starter -- either Andrew Hendrix, Everett Golson or Gunner Kiel -- and a full-time first-teamer.
"Again, I think early on we've got to be able to see three quarterbacks," Kelly said. "And as we move closer to finding if there is a separation, then we'll start to separate the reps. But we don't go into practice once saying, 'OK, he's getting 80 percent, he's getting 20, or he's getting 70/30.' We're not at that point.
"So it's going to take some time for us to figure that out in terms of who is going to get those reps, and it's probably going to take us a little time. But ultimately we want to be able to give the quarterback, you know, for Navy, a lot of reps leading into the game. So where we start is, we've got to be able to evaluate them based upon what they did this summer, and then start to close in on what that pecking order is. So I don't know the exact date, but we'll know it when we see it."
And if the first career start for Notre Dame's next quarterback goes smoothly, all the better.
"If he plays well against Navy," Kelly said when asked if he wants the first starter to be the season starter. "If we get the guy and he starts against Navy and he doesn't play very well, I don't want him to start next week, nor do you. But I would like, like everybody else, to prepare somebody and have a great game against Navy and then make it a difficult decision what you do in week two."