Tommy Rees Says He’ll Start vs. Air Force

Tommy Rees Starting vs. Air Force
Notre Dame Fighting Irish quarterback Tommy Rees (11) signals in the first quarter against the USC Trojans at Notre Dame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Around this time last year, Notre Dame fans were scared of the prospect of Tommy Rees starting a game in place of the injured Everett Golson.  Fast forward a year and Notre Dame fans across the country can breathe a giant sigh of relief that that same Tommy Rees is going to be starting for the Irish this weekend after missing most of the second half last weekend against USC.

When Golson was knocked out against Stanford last year, Tommy Rees stepped in a delivered the game winner in overtime but Notre Dame fans were still a bit worried about him starting the following weekend against BYU when the Cougars came to town.  This year the idea of Rees not starting as the Irish travel to Colorado Springs this weekend on the heels of 14-10 win over USC, had fans even more worried.

Notre Dame fans can rest easy though, since according to the man himself, Rees will be starting this weekend as the Irish look to pick up their 6th win of the season against BYU.

Without Tommy Rees under, or behind center, against USC, Notre Dame managed just one first down behind the arm and legs of Andrew Hendrix.  Hendrix failed to complete a pass against the Trojans and without the threat of a passing game, USC crowded the line and shut down an Irish ground game that was picking up some big chunk plays in the first half.

Notre Dame’s offense will face a defense that is statistically one of the worst in the country in Air Force.  The Falcons are giving up 488.7 yards a game at a rate of 6.29 yards a play.    Air Force doesn’t stack up much better in scoring defense coming in a 113th in the country while surrendering 37.6 points a game most of which have come via touchdowns.  The Falcons have given up 37 touchdowns and just two field goals all season.

With Rees starting for the Irish, Notre Dame shouldn’t have much trouble offensively.  Without him?  Things could be a bit more interesting.  In fact, it’s no surprise that there wasn’t a line on this game in Vegas until news broke that Rees would start.  That line?  19.5 points.  Given how poor Hendrix performed last week, that kind of line suggests that Vegas believes Rees.

Two years ago Rees had one of the most impressive statistical performance of his career against Air Force with 261 yards on 23 of 32 passing with 4 touchdowns and no interceptions.  Notre Dame won that game 59-33.  Want to know who Notre Dame’s leading rusher was in that same game?  Andrew Hendrix.  In mop up duty Hendrix picked up 111 yards on 6 carries including a career long 78 yarder that ended a yard short of the endzone.

Given Rees’s health, Hendrix will still likely see some reps as Brian Kelly will do all that he can to protect Rees from taking too many hits, but having a healthy Rees should have Notre Dame fans feeling pretty comfortable about Notre Dame’s chances this weekend.  Who would have ever thought that would be the case about six months ago?

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  1. I don’t see it C-Dog. Beating AF will not give ND any bump in the polls. What we need is for some more upsets inside the top 25 this weekend, and next, and the one after that, etc. Of course, ND has to take care of its own business first.

    1. SFR, It’s not that ND will get a bump. It’s more that several teams ahead may lose because of who they play. Just a mathematical possibility. MSU, South Carolina, and Nebraska are among teams that could lose Vtech and Okst, might also open movement for the Irish, but not likely.

      I certainly think ND has a chance to crack he top 25. Of course any real opportunity for a bump comes during the final three games.

      Taking care of business is a good way of putting it.

  2. BY the way, I am surprised no one has mentioned that we are behind MSU in the ratings. On the one hand that is so wrong and even lack of love for the Irish doesn’t warrant it. On the otherhand, I have a feeling that the writers need to keep the Big Ten propped up, and the Big Ten has enough coaches to promote itself too. With the Michigan/MSU game coming up, one team is going to drop. ND has the opportunity to move up 5 to 7 spots with a win. So, assuming we handle AFA with ease on Saturday, I expect movement in our favor.

  3. Like everyone else, I’d like to see Hendrix get some time. Rees will be better off with 1/2 to 3 quarters of playing time. Enough to get him sweating, which is always good for muscles, but not too fatigued. I have always like Rees, but still wonder about some things. Durability is a real issue. I think he knows it and with those slow feet, I give him credit for standing in and taking it when he gets nailed.

    Hendrix might be better to run the ball himself a few times before passing. Something to get him mentally into the speed and action of the game, but relying on his strengths first.

    Speaking of running, this would be a good week to feature the ground attack. I’d like to see Carlisle, Atkinson, and McDaniel et in a rythm with at least 2 of the three reaching the 100 yard mark. That could also keep he defense off the field and lower the probability of a cut or chop block ruining someone’s knee.

    The Irish can use this game and the Navy game to get in a groove. They’ll need that confidence for Pitt and BYU. Both teams are better than average.

    1. C-Dog,

      I like your thought on giving Hendrix a few running plays before passing. He seems to need a couple of positive plays to get going.

      I have to wonder if he had come in last week when we had the ball 4th and goal from the one foot line and sneaked it in, if he might have played with more confidence coming in for Rees having a TD already under his belt.

      I hope big Lou obliterates any lineman that goes for his knees…. you know… do unto others before they do unto you!

      1. I dread this game more than any other every time we play them. The border-line legality of their incessant chop blocks concerns me. I agree that AH needs to play more, this week and beyond, to get a read as to whether his return for a fifth year is an advantage. TR had some horrific games in the past as well and BK stuck with him. Having a second QB in this year’s recruiting class seems unlikely, as no prospects are ever mentioned as being considered. Our last three games are all a challenge- @ Pitt is never easy, and we have had nightmares with a mobile QB like BYU has, and then- there’s Stanford.

    1. Why do you keep asking the same completely inane question?

      And do you expect an answer that’s going to satisfy your emotions?

  4. Lamar Dawson, the USC linebacker who’s illegal, targeting, close line tackle, that knocked ND QB Tommy Rees out of last week’s game, tore up his knee in practice this week and will miss the remainder of the season for the Trojans.

    Rees in… Dawson out.

    Ain’t karma a bitch!

    1. At first I didn’t think there was anything illegal about the hit. But then when I watched it in slow-mo, I do think it was high, in the neck area, while the qb was “defenseless”. Should have been flagged.

      1. USC got flagged 11 times for 95 yards.(most in the second half)

        I think on the Tommy Rees play, the Ref’s were just plain worn out from having to bend over and pick the flag back up so many times that they just said the heck with it.

  5. Rees is really the best option they have, other than sacrificing Zaire’s redshirt. I’d rather not see ND go that route if at all possible. There just aren’t that many alternatives. I don’t think ND will have too much problems against Air Force though. As Woody and Jeff noted, Hendrix will likely get a chance to boost his confidence a little. Air Force has a poor defense. If ND starts blowing the game open, it would be a good opportunity to get Hendrix in there and maybe try to work on his passing accuracy.

    If ND is going to avoid burning Zaire’s redshirt, they are going to need Hendrix to play as best as he is able. There will be times Rees may not be able to play a whole game and they may need Hendrix to step up. Air Force with it’s poor defense, should be a good chance to work on that. I know I’d feel better knowing there was a back-up ND can depend on, like we did last year.

  6. Good! Settles that argument. Besides, with the OL giving excellent protection, TR’s mid-range 20-25 yard passes are indeed starting to click with Troy, TJ, DD due to the running game opening up opportunities. Cam definitely showed some serious moves and speed against USC. Hopefully the defense shuts AF down and we have a 30+ point lead going into the 4th quarter! Bring in AH and let it rip! Practice makes perfect!

    Hmmmm….is the AP Poll Smarter than a Fifth Grader?

    #13 LSU 6-2
    #16 Texas A&M 5-2
    #21 South Carolina 5-2


  7. I would start Hendrix and only put Rees in if the game stayed close.

    It would be nice to rest Tommy and let Hendrix hopefully redeem himself!


    1. Woody, I agree with you on this. I attended the Nevada Reno vs Air Force game a couple of weeks ago and while the game was high scoring and entertaining I can assure you that Air Force is terrible. Perfect opportunity for AH to play and gain some confidence and allow TR to get some much needed rest.

      1. well, I’m with both of Woody and Jeff, but part of my motivation is Machiavellian.

        I would like Hendrix back for a third year.

        First, he would be available for Spring, and with all the receivers we have, we need three quarterbacks for the 7-on-7.

        Second, 2014 is the year that Zaire will take off the redshirt, but it’s nice to have a third option.

        Third, having Hendrix there
        will allow Zaire to move up to the second string without having the third stringer (Hendrix) pouting about playing time.

        Fourth, this would enable Kizer to redshirt, which is the preferred option for quarterbacks. (cl Luck, Oliver; Winston, Jameis; Manziel, Johnny; McCarron, A.J.; Murray, Aaron.)

        Fifth, Hendrix has worked hard and been loyal, and it would be nice to see hime
        have a performance that would erase the abysmal last 24 minutes of the USC game.

        Sixth, with Zaire rising, they can develop a mini-Belldozer package for short yardage and goal lines.

        Outside of that, I got nuthin’

      2. Good points, but wouldn’t bringing Hendrix back mean burning a scholarship for a 5th year senior?

        Do you think the staff would do that?

        Considering a few others who might be available for a 5th year which might include Austin Collinsworth, Lo Wood, Bennett Jackson, Daniel Smith, and punter Alex Wulfeck.

      3. Shaz, I’ll concede your
        major premise but dispute your minor premise.

        Bennett Jackson and Daniel Smith are out of eligibililty
        and I think Wulfleck is(I like having him around, pooch punting is handy, and lets Brindza work on the other things.)

        Now, on the major point, it’s always a tough balancing act. For me, I would keep Collinsworth and, perhaps because of the ILB issue, Kendall Moore For me, I would let Wood go, but I concede being surprised by how ready Devin Butler is.

        But we’ve been livin’ on a prayer at quarterback for the last four years, and if we can get through next year,
        the crisis ought have passed.

        It’s all in the cross-elasticity.

        But I await your response. If you agree, I will praise your wisdom and sagacity. If you disagree, I will accuse you of all levels of incompetence and moral turpitude, consistent with the recent rhythm around here!

        To revisit an older issue, I think that SC is going to be a tough challenge every year.

        They will have athletes and a new coach will demand that they become more physical and will create stability and impact on both sides of the football.

        USC will be back FAST.

      4. I stand corrected, I thought Bennett Jackson redshirted his freshmen year and Smith’s season ending injury might allow him one more.

        I would guess who gets a 5th year depends on who we sign, how many we sign, if Tuitt stays, who might transfer out, who might transfer in, and who might get scratched because of injury or rule breaking.

        I like Hendrix, I just don’t think he fits the style of offence that Kelly wants to run. I would rather ND just bit the bullet and sign 2 duel threat freshmen QB’s this year and move on.

        As far as USC goes, we know all too well ourselves, USC’s future success will probably depend on who they get as head coach.
        If they find the right guy they can turn it around pretty quickly.
        But right now the PAC-12 is much improved with Oregon, Stanford, UCLA, Arizona, Arizona St,& Washington all playing good football.

        Oregon State is decent, and Washington St has a new head coach that knows a little something about college football.

        USC will now have to deal with those teams long before the Irish come calling.

        Not like during the Pete Carrol years when the PAC-12 was weak and USC grabbed all the talent.

      5. Shaz one more thing. I’m betting on the come that Haden will make a GREAT, rather than good hire as his head coach.

        He got stuck with Mike Garrett’s abysmal choice of the Goat Boy.

        But I was shocked at his hire of Andy Enfield as his hoops coach. Don’t know if you follow college buckets, but Enfield was the coach of Florida Gulf Coast last year, and he has “it.” In contrast,
        UCLA hired Steve Alford, and that would appear to be a horrific fit.

        Now, it’s all conjecture until the hire is made. But Haden is not Garrett. He made his bones in football under John McKay, is a Rhodes Scholar, and is Cardinal and Gold through and through.

        He knows this is the most significant decision he will make the rest of his life, and he will not be coerced into a bad one. He won’t go small or safe, he will go big.

        But we’ll see.

        I do agree that the Pac-12 is better, and my vote is that they are EASILY the second best conference in America.

        They sure have upgraded their head coaches over the last few year.

      6. I wouldn’t mind seeing Hendrix come back, although it would be interesting to see him enter the game as an RB. Develop three others but keep him as a hybrid. It’s a bit unconventional but allows him to play and maybe gets his head in the game if needed.

        A point was made about the PAC-12 being easily the second best conference. I absolutely agree with that. I see it as 1. SEC, 2. PAC-12, 3. ACC, 4. BIG-12, 5. Big ten. ND should worry about dominating any Big Ten team it plays either in the season or in a bowl. The Big ten is better through the middle, but this year played such a weak non conference schedule and did not show well, that I do not see OSU, Michigan, Wisconsin, or Nebraska in the same league as the SEC or PAC-12 top 5. And Notre Dame needs to see that and rise above playing at the level of a Big Ten team.

        I agree also that Haden will get a top notch coach. the question wil be whether Haden or the boosters win out on the future of the Trojan program. Will it return to the Carroll days of “optional” workouts instead of class time, and that stain, or will Haden enforce some academic attendance? ND can attain parity with USC well into the future if Haden wants an honorable program. That remains to be seen. But the Irish better get their licks in next year and the year after.

      7. We should score 60+ this weekend but the reality is we will probably win by a score of 31-14. Pathetic. Oregon would hang 70 on AF by mid 3rd quarter but we will struggle to score 30. It will also probably take the D 2 quaters to figure it out. Optimism

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