Saturday, September 24, 2011

Notre Dame's Tommy Rees Is Not Going To Get Benched

Tommy Rees is the starting quarterback for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish now and for the rest of his career in South Bend.  Don't believe me?

Just ask Notre Dame Head Coach Bryan Kelly.  The sophomore quarterback is definitely going through some growing pains this year, but Kelly has shown absolutely no inclination to take him out of the game at any point.

Why is that?

After all, in four games this year, Rees has thrown five interceptions to just six touchdowns.  You could say that the Irish's failure to win against Michigan and South Florida were related to turnovers by Rees (among others).

You could say that, but you can also definitely say that they had better chances to win because Rees was in the game.  Against South Florida, Michigan, and Pittsburgh, Rees has led his team on important fourth-quarter scoring drives.

He may make some bad decisions during the first three quarters of the game, but when the pressure is at its highest it's clear that Kelly trusts only Rees in the game.

Would Rees Get Benched?

Last year when he replaced an injured Dayne Crist in mid-season, he had to learn under fire.  Once he grabbed the starting job firmly, there wasn't any other quarterback on the roster who came close to challenging Rees in practice or in a game.  It wasn't as if Rees was a superstar; it's simply because the other options were just that terrible.

However, now there's senior Dayne Crist standing on the sidelines ready and willing at any point to go into the game.  He actually won the starting job in camp and started the season opener against South Florida.  However, when he committed a few turnovers and struggled to move the Irish on consecutive drives, Kelly pulled the trigger quickly and put Rees in the lineup.

Was there something about the way Crist responds to Kelly that is different from Rees? Something that made Kelly believe that Rees was a better option on the field?

We've all seen Kelly light into Rees on the sideline after a particularly bad interception or play.  Rees stands his ground and defends himself, and there must be something in those exchanges that reinforces the idea that Kelly knows Rees is the Irish's best chance to win.

When the game is on the line, and you need that one crucial drive, Rees is the man for the job.  If that wasn't clearly the case, then Kelly would have replaced him with Crist during the Michigan game.

However, Kelly knows a winner when he see is.  Rees is that winner.  Don't believe me?

Just watch the rest of the season.  Crist will only get on the field if Rees gets hurt.

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