After watching Notre Dame narrowly slip by Michigan State in their 17-13 win on Saturday afternoon, it became very clear that starting quarterback Tommy Rees needs to start performing better if the team wants to make it back to a BCS Bowl again this season. While some may judge this assessment harsh and would simply be happy with the win, the fact is that Notre Dame has three tough tests coming up against Oklahoma, Arizona State and USC, and will need Rees to be much better than he was on Saturday.
During the game on Saturday, Rees threw for a grand total of 142 yards while completing a measly 14 out of 34 passes for a 41.1 completion percentage. In the midst of this horrific performance, Rees showed difficulty hitting open receivers on multiple deep routes that could have possibly broke open the game. While he was helped out by a couple costly, and controversial, pass-interference calls by the referees throughout the game, this inability to hit open receivers is unacceptable and will likely result in future blowouts as the Fighting Irish begin to go up against offenses who will surely put up more than 13 points per game.
In addition to costing his own statistics by not being efficient passing the ball, Rees’ ineptitude resulted in Notre Dame’s running game not being able to get any space, and running backs Cam McDaniel, George Atkinson III, Amir Carlisle and Taerean Folston found yards hard to come by. For the entirety of the day, the running backs combined to pick up 84 yards on 29 carries — an average of 2.9 yards per carry — and only were able to complete a run of 10 yards or more twice. While some of this blame undoubtedly comes down to the running backs and offensive line, the fact is that if Rees was able to complete more passes, the field would undoubtedly open up more as defensive backs would have to respect the threat of getting burned by the passing game.
With Notre Dame’s next three games coming up against three teams whose offenses have the potential to put up at least 30 points against them, the team will need Rees to start contributing more. This will mean that Rees will need to become a lot more efficient or fear facing a string of three-straight loses that would effectively end any chance of the team making a BCS Bowl before the season really gets started.
But hey, at least Everett Golson will be back in 2014, so eventually the school will have a good quarterback.