If you remember correctly, there was once a young freshman quarterback who took a 6-5 Notre Dame Fighting Irish into the deadly Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and came out with a 20-16 victory, ending the USC Trojans‘ eight game hold over the Irish.
The freshman kid has been through a lot in his time with Notre Dame, going from leading the nation in turnovers, to being the backup during the Irish’s 12-0 regular season run last year, to now being shoved back into the starting spot. That freshman? He has since switched numbers from 13 to 11, and goes by the name of Tommy Rees, or more affectionately known by the Irish faithful as ‘Turnover’ Tommy.
Rees isn’t the most talented quarterback in the world; heck he is probably the third most talented quarterback on the current Notre Dame roster, but all Rees has done is win in his time at school. He came in relief on multiple occasions for Everrett Golson to secure a win for the team last year and has now come into relief on a full time basis with Golson suspended for the year on academic reasons.
Sure he has looked less than impressive in both of his starts this year. He has missed open receivers, thrown behind others, and his lack of arm strength almost restricts some of Brian Kelly’s play calling. But again it all comes back to wins, which he has done more than enough in his tenure, and despite getting the loss against Michigan, as anyone who watched the game could tell you, it was the high and mighty defense that let them down.
Rees did a great job keeping the Irish in the game, throwing the ball 51 times as Michigan tried to have Rees beat them by stacking extra players in the box to stuff the run game. While Rees won’t ever move the ball as quickly and efficiently as Golson, or even possibly Malik Zaire could, his ability to assess the situation when moving to the line quickly (in a way a poor man’s Peyton Manning would) can put his plethora of playmakers in the right position to succeed.
Kelly said that upwards of 40 percent of their offensive plays were check downs from their original play, and that was just in the Michigan game. Watch the Temple game and watch the touchdown plays. Does it look like the work of play calling or the ultimate game manager putting his players in the right position?
Rees won’t break off a fancy long run off of the read option, and he is always good for a few ‘what the -?’ moments, but he is a winner. He was against USC as a freshman, and he will be his senior. Notre Dame fans, you will be just fine with Tommy Rees as your quarterback.