The Notre Dame Fighting Irish got a big win over the rival USC Trojans last Saturday, snapping a five-game home losing streak to the Men of Troy. But in the process, they lost starting quarterback Tommy Rees to a neck strain in the third quarter which completely derailed their offense the rest of the game. After showing a startling inability to do much of anything offensively without him in the game, Brian Kelly has to hope his quarterback heals quickly or the Irish offense may be stuck in neutral.
After Rees left the game, Notre Dame managed just 30 yards, including penalties, and had just one first down on six drives. Andrew Hendrix was completely inept in relief, missing on all four of his pass attempts and gaining five yards on six rushing attempts (which including a seven-yard scamper). Hendrix has now completed just one of his 10 pass attempts on the season and has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that he his wholly incapable of effectively running this offense.
Rees woke up on Sunday after the game with soreness in the neck but said he felt fine otherwise. He’s officially day-to-day this week and Kelly was hopeful that he would be able to participate in practice on Tuesday. If he’s unable to go on Tuesday, he’ll need to get onto the field by Wednesday or risk being inactive for Notre Dame’s next game against the Air Force Falcons. Kelly has said he needs to see Rees compete in practice at least a couple of times before he feels comfortable putting back onto the field.
While Air Force has been one of the worst defense in the country so far this season, nothing about Notre Dame’s performance against USC in the second half gives Irish fans faith in this offense without Rees. He has suffered plenty of criticism for his play all season long, but now he might just be the only hope for the the Irish offense.