Sunday, September 4, 2011

Tommy Rees Should Lead Notre Dame Rest Of Season; Gives Irish Best Chance To Win

When you spend an entire off-season debating which quarterback should be your starter, the worst time to find you made the wrong choice is at halftime of the first game of your season.

However, that's exactly what happened to Head Coach Bryan Kelly and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish when they took on South Florida at home on Saturday.  Waiting until halftime to make the quarterback switch was one of the major reasons why Notre Dame ultimately lost their home opener to South Florida, 23-20.

Dayne Crist
Photo: Michael Conroy/Getty Images

Starter Dayne Crist was relatively ineffective for the entire first half, going 7-15 with 95 yards and one interception.  Four of his seven drives were three and outs.  He did have two decent drives, one of 8 plays and 76 yards that ended in a fumble that was returned for a touchdown; the other one was a 11 play, 61-yard drive that ended in an interception in the end zone.

Clearly, at halftime, Kelly realized that Crist unfortunately wasn't the man.  Inserting sophomore Tommy Rees into the lineup provided a spark and some hope that the Irish could still come back.

The Irish certainly had several chances to win the game throughout.  Three costly turnovers within South Florida's ten-yard line proved to be too much to overcome.

Rees finished 24/34 for 296 yards, with two touchdowns and two interceptions.  He also finished the game with a strong hold on the starting quarterback position for the rest of the season.

I feel bad for Crist, who has worked so hard the past two years to come back from two very serious knee injuries.  However, some quarterbacks just do not have "it." That unspoken ability to lead their team, and a knack for making the right play at the right time.

I liken this situation to the University of Texas when Major Applewhite kept having to replace a somewhat ineffective Chris Simms in big game situations.  Applewhite had proven himself to be a winner (much like Rees), but Simms had the pedigree and size that kept getting him starts.  Simms played well enough in most situations, but when the pressure was high and the game was on the line, Applewhite had to come in and save the day.

Tommy Rees
Photo: Michael Conroy/Getty Images
As an Irish fan, I'm highly comfortable with Tommy Rees being the starter.  With him at the helm, the Irish have a really good chance to defeat Michigan next week.

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