As a member of the Notre Dame football program, senior quarterback Tommy Rees has truly felt the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. From starter, to back-up, and now starter again, Rees is hoping to implement the lessons he learned as a reserve, into a starting role that he has obtained for the second time in his career while a member of Irish football team.
During Brian Kelly’s opening press conference he was asked what the reasoning behind naming Tommy Rees the starter right now, as opposed to letting fall practice play out, and making a decision then? Kelly responded by saying “He was the most experienced, and gave us the best opportunity to win against Temple” While his comment may be a truthful one, it in no way indicated that Kelly and his staff are absolutely set on Rees the rest of the way “ I didn’t name him the starter for all 13 games, I named him the starter verse Temple. My expectations are that he will take the job and continue to lead our football team” While Kelly seems confident in what Rees can bring to the table this year, he was clear in the fact that it is incumbent upon Rees himself to follow though and substantiate that level of confidence.
In 2012 Rees was 34-59, for 436 yards, 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions, but as most know, it was less about stats, and more about results last year. Relegated to a back-up role, Rees saw action in only 9 games, but was extremely instrumental in match-ups against Michigan, Stanford, Brigham Young, and Pittsburgh.
Rees may be a lot of things, but oblivious to the scrutiny he is currently under is not one of them. While Kelly seems to have a softer approach these days, any fan who witnessed the aggressive approach that Kelly displayed on the side-lines towards Rees in 2011, understands the frustration level and the toll that the simple-minded mistakes made by Rees caused Kelly and his staff that year.
The success as a backup in 2012 for Tommy Rees is well documented, unfortunately for him so are the game costing mistakes of 2011. What coach Kelly is hoping for is that Rees has matured as player and a person, and will carry over the success of last year, and the mistakes of 2011 are a thing of the past. It is without question that Rees has a command of the offense and the playbook, but his ability to perform on the field as starter could will help determine how far the Irish of 2013 go in the hunt to return back to the BCS championship game on January 6th, in Pasadena.
With all that said though, it is important to point out the fact that while the Irish will be leaning on Rees an awful lot in the upcoming year, Rees will be just a dependant on them if they want to reach the same level of success as the previous year. While the offensive line looks to be as good if not better than in 2012, the rest of offensive pieces are not so set. The Irish are talented but inexperienced both in the backfield and at the wide receiver position, and no longer have safety valve Tyler Eifert to bail them out of trouble. Trust us when we say there are complex interlocking storylines that are going on, and the success of the Irish this year will be reliant on all the pieces fitting together, and not just that of Tommy Rees – although his piece seems to be the most important.
Kelly and Rees are both saying all the right things at this juncture, but one can only wonder as to how amicable their relationship will remain if the mistakes of 2011 start to become the mistakes of 2013. Irish fans can only hope that Rees’ propensity for turning the ball over at the worst times is a thing of the past, and we are positive that Rees himself is hoping this will be the case also.