Since the news broke of Everett Golson's departure from Notre Dame, I've been sequestered in the catacombs of the OFD command center. My orders were simple. Watch as much film as possible on Andrew "voodoo child" Hendrix and don't come out until you have something useful to share with the OFD community.
A few short weeks ago Hendrix was the forgotten man on the Notre Dame quarterback depth chart. Everett Golson was the entrenched starter, Tommy Rees the trusted back up and Malik Zaire the exciting new prospect. Like a polar bear stranded on an ice floe, Hendrix was relegated to the nether regions of the Notre Dame quarterbacking world. Oh how things have changed in the past week. Hendrix is no longer a castaway. He has become a critical piece of the quarterback puzzle and a legitimate candidate to see playing time in the 2013 season.
As I sat in the OFD catacombs, listening to the slow grind of the MOTS wheel of pain, I realized the best opportunity to evaluate Hendrix was the second half of the 2011 Stanford game. This was our only glimpse of Hendrix in extended and meaningful playing time at Notre Dame. I watched the film and graded Hendrix on 33 plays. I excluded plays where Hendrix didn't play an important role such as handing the ball off. In terms of grading I went with a pretty simple formula. I rated each play as:
- Negative - an obviously poor play by Hendrix
- Acceptable - a play where Hendrix did a good job (even if the play itself wasn't successful)
- Positive - a play where Hendrix did something above average or made a big play
Out of the 33 plays I graded Hendrix had the following results:
- Negative - 8 plays
- Acceptable - 17 plays
- Positive - 8 plays
All things considered the second half was a surprisingly solid performance for a young quarterback getting his first significant taste of action against a very good defense. Hendrix demonstrated a strong arm, decent timing, the ability to run the ball effectively and even a little bit of touch. Take a look at this clip of Hendrix leading the Irish on their first scoring drive against Stanford, it's actually pretty impressive.
As I continued to watch film a few themes started to emerge.
One of Hendrix's greatest assets is his arm strength. He is particularly proficient at hitting the soft spot in between the linebackers and the safeties. This play from the 2013 Blue and Gold game demonstrates this. Hendrix makes a big time throw into a pretty tight window. Very impressive.
Another element that stands out with Hendrix is his running ability. He always seems to be a little off balance and runs with reckless abandon but it's effective. Most times when his number is called Hendrix gains solid yardage. Take a look at this quarterback draw play on 3rd and 9 against Stanford. This is a critical first down and I love the way Hendrix finishes the run.
Of course it's not all rainbows and lollipops with the voodoo child. His performance in the 2012 Navy game highlighted a critical deficiency. He's skittish. At times Hendrix looks like he is completely out of control and at any moment could run out of the stadium screaming and speaking in tongues. Here is an example from the 2012 Navy game.
Every time I watch that clip of Hendrix I think of this
With recent developments at Notre Dame Hendrix is now officially back in the quarterback mix. This would have caused me great concern a few weeks ago. However, after watching the film, I feel much better about Hendrix. He has the ability to help this team win. He has a strong arm, he is an effective runner, he throws well on the run and he can actually put some touch on the ball. If he can stop with the Ricky Bobby impersonations he could be an effective player for the Irish.
Like most here at OFD I think he will be battling with Zaire for the number 2 spot. If Zaire passes him on the depth chart, it will say more about Zaire's development and skill set than it will about Hendrix's lack of skill.