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Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Hendrix embraces opportunity after debut

By Matt Fortuna

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Despite not seeing any game action for nearly a year and a half, quarterback Andrew Hendrix never felt like he wasn't part of the Notre Dame program.

The Irish, he said, make everyone feel integral, from Player A all the way down to Player Z.

So with extra pep in his step this week following an eye-opening debut Saturday, Hendrix can now at least feel he is slowly moving up the ladder, closer to Player A.

"Maybe a little bit," he conceded with a laugh.

Andrew Hendrix
Notre Dame QB Andrew Hendrix has demonstrated his mobility during his limited playing time.
With 111 rushing yards and a 4-for-4 showing against Air Force came validation for the sophomore, who brought the crowd to its feet with a 78-yard run in the fourth quarter.

"Definitely," Hendrix said. "I was really excited to get in to be able to show what I had, let everyone else know, because I felt like I was confident in my abilities. Just to let everyone else see that I can do this really felt good."

Brian Kelly hinted on his Thursday radio show that Hendrix could debut against Air Force, one week before the bye. But no one figured the change-of-pace quarterback would see so much time.

On Tuesday, Kelly explained he wanted Hendrix to get a taste of action before stepping into a raucous environment for the Irish's prime-time rivalry game against USC on Oct. 22.

Jumping out to a 21-3 first-quarter lead en route to a 59-point showing had something to do with Hendrix's number of snaps as well.

"I didn't want Andrew Hendrix's first college experience to be the USC game," Kelly said. "And then I wanted to insert him when we were having success, because I didn't wanna open it up to, 'All right, we had a couple of bad plays. We got a quarterback situation going on here.'

"So he went in every time we had success with plays and things were moving positively, and he's ready to play against USC. I don't have to be concerned about what his makeup and demeanor would be inserting him into the USC game."

Hendrix admitted to being surprised by the amount of plays and ensuing success he was able to have his first time stepping onto the field.

"Definitely," he said. "I thought that initially I was just gonna be able to get my feet wet. But as we started to get a little lead I was obviously able to get in the game a little bit more throughout the third and fourth quarter. So the lead that we were able to get because of the offensive success we had throughout the game allowed me to play a little bit more and I think that opened up things for me."

Hendrix said his preparation each game week won't change, and he has tried to not let that approach be affected now that he has seen the results it can yield.

But even Kelly said he could see a little more confidence in Hendrix this week after showing what he was capable of.

"I think my main thing is I can't control what I can't control, so really just keeping my head down, plowing through, working to be the best me that I can possibly be and whatever falls I just let fall," Hendrix said. "Coach Kelly gave me the opportunity; that's something I can't control. But what I could control is making the best of it and I think I did that."