Brian Kelly Can’t Wait Any Longer – It’s Time For Tommy Rees
Alright Coach, enough is enough. It’s time for a quarterback change.
Now, I’ll be honest, I have been calling for Tommy Rees to be our starter from day one — but there is still no time like the present to improve our team.
Notre Dame’s defense has been absolutely lights out — it hasn’t allowed a touchdown in the past four games (Michigan State, Michigan, Miami, Stanford). Brian Kelly has mentioned numerous times that it is a “championship-level” defense, and he’s absolutely right — as long as the offense can help out and put a few touchdowns on the board. The problem is, when not playing terrible, terrible defenses, the offense hasn’t found its way to the endzone.
ESPN’s Jesse Palmer: “#NotreDame won’t finish undefeated if Everett Golson keeps playing QB. Tommy Rees has to start right now.”
— Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) October 15, 2012
Everett Golson has been the starting quarterback for the Fighting Irish for the first six weeks due to his immense potential. He has a rocket arm, good speed, and is exceptionally agile and evasive. However, that athleticism has not translated into points, and if Notre Dame doesn’t make a change, it likely will not remain undefeated for much longer.
Golson has thrown only four touchdowns in six games. He’s averaging only 161.3 yards per game, and he’s also turning the ball over at a fairly high rate. His three interceptions aren’t that bad, but when you combine that with seven fumbles (four of them lost), it’s definitely a concern. In fact, consider that Everett has been tackled 42 times this year, and has put the ball on the ground seven times — he is fumbling the ball once every six times he gets tackled. When you consider that he didn’t play most of the Michigan game, and didn’t finish the games against Navy, Purdue, MSU, Miami, OR Stanford, his turnover rate is exceptionally high.
#NotreDame HC Brian Kelly on Everett Golson turnovers: “Very concerned. It’s something obviously we cannot continue to have.”
— Brian Hamilton (@ChiTribHamilton) October 14, 2012
Now don’t get me wrong — Everett is still learning, and these mistakes are ones that ANY young, inexperienced quarterback makes. However, the reason Tommy Rees was not named the starter this year was because of his turnover-prone play in 2011, and protecting the ball has been the offense’s number one priority according to Kelly. In that regard, Everett is failing. Furthermore, you can at least live with turnovers if you are putting up points and allowing yourself some margin of error, but that obviously isn’t the case right now.
While these mistakes are ones that are definitely fixable, the Fighting Irish don’t have time to wait around. Maybe if they were 3-3 or 4-2 it’d be different, but at 6-0 and with this defense, championship aspirations are absolutely legitimate. It would be a shame if this team lost a game, particularly when they aren’t even giving up defensive touchdowns, which almost happened versus Stanford on Saturday. Everett’s flashes are just that — they don’t come about with any consistency or regularity, and because of this, Notre Dame needs to look to Tommy Rees.
Rees has played in five games this season, although he’s only played a significant role (meaning, not in mop-up time) in three of them. He orchestrated the game-winning drive versus Purdue, played two-thirds of a game against Michigan, and led the Irish to scores on the only two drives he led versus Stanford. He has come in to 80,000 boos even at home, come in with no warm-up after sitting in cold rain for four hours, and he has come in with no leads to protect — when Brian Kelly has called his number, Notre Dame has absolutely needed scores.
All Tommy Rees has done in those situations is deliver. He now has three “saves” on the season (and one starting win) and turned what was originally 80,000 boos into the most noise Notre Dame stadium has made in years – with his touchdown pass to TJ Jones in overtime on Saturday. His leadership, coolness under pressure, and clutch play have been evident in every appearance.
Everyone saw shades of this his freshman year when he won his first four starts in the biggest venues possible (Notre Dame Stadium, Yankee Stadium, the Coliseum, Sun Bowl) and it now looks like he is combining that poise with the experience he has garnered over the years. Tommy Rees was no more a finished product to start this season than Everett Golson, which often gets overlooked; he’s still getting better.
In fact, a great deal of Rees’ growth can probably be attributed to Golson getting the starting nod. Since that point, Tommy has been a consummate teammate and offered as much guidance to the young quarterback as possible. Tommy seeks out Everett after every single drive so the two can discuss what the defense is doing out there:
“He’s an incredible young man that he can stay so focused in the game, know what’s going on during the game; at half time I’m talking with him and Everett and he’s pointing out some things about the outside coverages that we should maybe think about running, as well. He’s just a very smart football player” ~ Brian Kelly
Maybe watching from the sidelines has helped Tommy to grow and understand even more — he certainly has an extremely high football IQ. It only makes sense for Brian Kelly to let him show it, and there’s no better time than now. Notre Dame is on fall break this week, so the team could assimilate Tommy back into the starting fold without having to focus on classes. Give Tommy a full game to get re-acclimated before heading off to Norman, Oklahoma for a top-ten matchup with the Sooners. Nobody in their right mind wants to start an inexperienced quarterback in that situation.
The Notre Dame Fighting Irish are capable of accomplishing anything this season, as long as they get a little offensive help. Good thing it’s already there waiting, ready to step up.