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Kelly puts his faith in Rees as his quarterback

Aug 2, 2013, 2:07 AM EDT

Rees Kelly

Notre Dame is ready to kick off the 2013 with preseason expectations higher than they’ve been in South Bend since Brady Quinn was returning for his senior season. And while some fans can’t help but think about what could have been with returning starter Everett Golson back at quarterback for a second season in the starting lineup, head coach Brian Kelly is thankful that he can turn the offense back to senior Tommy Rees.

“We just think that we’re very fortunate that we have a returning starter at quarterback when you lose your starter from the national championship game,” Kelly said today when talking to ESPN 960 radio in South Bend.

Kelly didn’t have much of a choice after Golson was exiled for the fall semester after some academic improprieties. But for those Irish fans worried that the Irish playbook contracts with Rees back in the saddle, those concerns might be unfounded.

Sure, Rees won’t be the runner that Golson was last season, when he led the Irish in rushing touchdowns. But don’t expect the playbook to shrink this season, as Rees has a mastery of Kelly’s playbook that Golson can’t touch.

That includes running a tempo offense, something Notre Dame fans have been waiting to see throughout Kelly’s three seasons in South Bend. While it’s becoming an annual August rite, Kelly sounds more than confident that finally this season Rees will be able to run the speed attack Kelly was known for in his pre-Notre Dame days.

“I think we can,” Kelly said, when asked if the Irish offense will be able to run an up tempo, no huddle offense. “I think he makes it easier for us to play with fast tempo. A lot of those plays are call it and haul it plays. You can call them and go. That’s going to be easy for Tommy.”

“I think we can play fast with Tommy Rees.”

While Kelly will no doubt field similar questions when he kicks off the ’13 season with his opening press conference at noon on Friday, he laid the groundwork in his 45 minutes answering questions on the radio. And while he covered some interesting topics that we’ll get into after his more formal media session tomorrow, Kelly also did his best to extinguish another popular narrative about Rees’ alleged athletic deficiencies.

Kelly talked about the great offseason and summer his senior quarterback had, both as a leader and in Paul Longo’s training program.

“As a leader, he’s been outstanding,” Kelly said of Rees. “But more importantly, when I got a chance to look at some of the numbers physically, you wouldn’t think that when you looked at Tommy and Andrew Hendrix, that he’s stronger than Andrew physically.”

Kelly cited Rees’ bench press numbers, where he put up 225 pounds ten times. He also talked about some additional quickness and mobility, which will certainly help in the pocket.

While Kelly talked about Hendrix’s ability to potentially contribute as a complementary part, and Malik Zaire’s progress as a developing player, Kelly’s confidence in Rees was apparent. The relationship has come a long way in one calendar year, when Rees didn’t take a rep with the first team throughout all of fall camp.

With an ugly suspension and a season on the bench tutoring and supporting Golson behind him, Kelly is confident that Rees can be the leader that steps up and leads an Irish team Kelly believes can once again be in the thick of BCS title consideration.

“We’ve been together now going on four years. We’ve seen some good time and we’ve seen some bad times,” Kelly admitted. “He clearly knows the offense, he’s got great respect in the locker room, great command.

“Tommy knows what he needs to continue to work on — strength, conditioning, all those things. And he’s gotta make good decisions. If he does that, we’ll be in great shape at the QB position.”

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  1. fnwchs - Aug 3, 2013 at 8:23 AM

    Is he as athletically talented as Golson? Of course not. Will he be one of the all time greats? No.

    But Rees is our best option at QB for 2013. He’s our guy. Let’s let our opponents say bad things about him–but geez, fellas, he’s our guy.

    He’ll make up what he lacks physically with guile that comes from experience.

    Here’s hoping that he has a good year.

  2. nd19391109 - Aug 3, 2013 at 6:03 PM

    From the time I saw him step on the field as a Freshman I thought Tommy Rees could be the best ND Quarterback since Joe Montana. Tommy doesn’t have the quick feet that a top QB needs but he has the Montana ‘coolness’ without which noone is going anywhere as a QB in the top college ranks or the Pros. I’ve always thought Brian Kelly made a short-sighted mistake in putting his emphasis on Everett Golson vs seeing if he could get Tommy beyond his obvious limitations of mobility. I don’t like Everett Golson as a QB – there’s no flow or rythmn to the offense when he’s in there – every play is “Everett Golson making something happen” – that’s a formula for mediocrity at best. As a Philly person, Everett Golson brings to mind “Randall Cunningham” leaping over tacklers, throwing 50yds across his body, throwing the ball 60-70yds in the air – great athleticism but it doesn’t add up to scratch when it comes to what you need from a QB at the top echelons of college or professional football – you need a cool hand (“Luke”) with a pinpoint delivery (think ‘Montana’) – I don’t know if Tommy can pull it off this year since they had him sitting on his ass last year or two – but I do think that Tommy Rees is way above and beyond Everett Golson as a talented “QB” – no offense against Golson – seems like a decent person and a great athlete – but not a Pro-level QB! JK

  3. fnc111 - Aug 6, 2013 at 6:28 PM


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