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Rees takes charge as team’s identity comes into focus

Sep 19, 2013, 2:55 PM EDT

Tommy Rees, Brian Kelly AP

Saturday’s comeback victory against Purdue was keyed by a second half recovery after a slow start by both sides of the ball. And while it felt like a frustrating slog for most of the game, it didn’t feel like a great escape or death-defying act. And that’s a product of the team understanding what it takes to win a football game.

Brian Kelly stopped by SiriusXM’s College Football Playbook this week and talked about the evolution of his team with Jack Arute and Gino Torretta. And winning games like this has become habit forming.

“I think it’s a culmination of winning 25 of our last 30 regular season games,” Kelly said of his team’s battle back. “That has to have a positive effect on you. When I came in at half time, I said, ‘Listen, we’ve been down this road before.’ We’re going to have to play better, we’re going to have to make some plays. Plays that we didn’t make against Michigan. And I was confident we would.”

There were plenty of interesting morsels that came out of Kelly’s weekly stop, but perhaps the largest was the evolution of Tommy Rees as the offense’s leader. Sure Zack Martin and TJ Jones are the guys with the C on their jersey, but Kelly made it clear that Saturday night, Rees finally became the rightful leader of this offense.

“Tommy Rees finally took this team over,” Kelly said. “He took them on the bench and surrounded himself with everybody and started talking to them like it’s his team. He’s been the quarterback, but now it’s his team. It was a huge moment in the second half where he said, ‘Listen, this is my team and we’re going to win this football game.'”

Kelly also talked about the changes on the defense that’s started out a little bit slower than many expected. Getting ready to take part in a smash-mouth game this weekend, the Irish head coach referenced a few tweaks to Bob Diaco’s troops that he hopes will help straighten out a few of the deficiencies.

“We’re getting closer. We’re not there yet,” Kelly said. “We still have to develop a few key positions on defense that are not there yet. And we’ve addressed that and moving forward we think we have some answers there that you’ll see this weekend.”

  1. don74 - Sep 19, 2013 at 3:04 PM

    Kelly has demonstrated he knows what he’s doing. I hope he’s right about Tommy. We will see.

    • NotreDan - Sep 19, 2013 at 3:11 PM

      I agree Don, on hoping he’s right about Tommy. We so badly need a leader the TEAM believes in, regardless what any of us or anyone else thinks of that leader.

    • 808raiderinparadise - Sep 19, 2013 at 6:30 PM

      Tommy Gun has been excellent all things considered.

      His pick vs MICH before half was the only time I turned “Purple Kelly Faced” on my couch, my opinion, that was the start of losing that game.

      I’m just hoping Rees’s fake twitter GF doesn’t die today and he has to play in remembrance of her vs MICH ST
      ;)

  2. NotreDan - Sep 19, 2013 at 3:10 PM

    This post makes me feel really good about the Irish.

    I think I agree, that except for a couple plays, we could have blown the second half open on Purdue.

    Saturday will be a big deal. I’m excited for them to get back to a day game too, not sure of the effect of the night lights, etc.

    I predict a similar “coming of age” against MSU that we experienced last year.

  3. andy44teg - Sep 19, 2013 at 3:15 PM

    I can’t remember the last time a sideline camera showed a Notre Dame QB huddling up the troops and giving a pep talk the way TR did last week. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I can’t think of a time when Clausen, Quinn, Holiday…etc did that. I was pretty impressed. ‘Bout time somebody stepped up and provided some leadership since Manti!

    • shamrocknroll - Sep 19, 2013 at 4:50 PM

      Anyone have a link to a highlight reel with this in it? I missed that, and would love to see it.

      • andy44teg - Sep 19, 2013 at 6:07 PM


        go to the 1:46-ish mark

      • ndirish10 - Sep 19, 2013 at 7:46 PM

        If the they come out “tackling”, like in the 2 minute 7 second mark, it’s going to be a long night. They need to start the game this Saturday the way they finished it last Saturday. Go Irish!!!

      • ndirish10 - Sep 19, 2013 at 7:49 PM

        andy… how do you upload videos onto the blog?

      • shamrocknroll - Sep 20, 2013 at 10:10 PM

        I dig it. Thanks for posting!

  4. irishlee10 - Sep 19, 2013 at 4:00 PM

    It’s a shame that tommy didn’t take over the team in the offseason; however, this article makes me feel GREAT about the Irish and my expectations are set back high where they were in the beginning of the year.

  5. polarirish49 - Sep 19, 2013 at 4:09 PM

    I say stick a C on Rees’ chest. His stats deserve it.
    Too bad about the D this Year. The Pass D is swiss cheese……………save for one play against Purdue.

  6. nudeman - Sep 19, 2013 at 4:17 PM

    I see Tommy at the tipping point right now.

    Very impressive last week vs. Purdue, Is this just a continuation of his history of performing well only against bad teams? He protected the ball, he threw with some zip and threw the long ball.

    Is it because this was Purdue? Or is he ready to emerge as a solid QB, regardless of competition?

    MSU isn’t an elite team this year; better than Purdue but not as good as UM. Middle of the pack.
    A solid, no INT, 2 TD performance would make me feel a lot better about the schedule gauntlet ND is about to run. If he throws up stinker, then we’re nowhere.

    • dickasman - Sep 19, 2013 at 7:30 PM

      “Rees takes charge” scares me. That means he getting ready to throw 3 int’s with possibility of 2 fumbles.

      • don74 - Sep 19, 2013 at 8:21 PM

        as you’ve said to me, one day at a time….one play at a time. Let’s see what happens.

      • ndnphx - Sep 19, 2013 at 10:04 PM

        Amen. But I think he’ll be fine as long as he doesn’t force the throw on a roll-out…

    • ekalderf - Sep 20, 2013 at 10:17 PM

      If we r dependent on Rees to lead this team we are staring at 8 and 4. Sorry, the guy is playing his heart out, but it is Too easy for more talented teams to defend when he is under center–witness no deep balls against MI. Sure guys make the circus catches against PU and we stink out a close win. But literally no offensive output in the first half against a team that was raped by cinncinati? Why do you think that is? Stack box….dare TR to beat you. Simple defensive game plan…get use to it you will see it alot over the remainder ofte season.

  7. alsatiannd - Sep 19, 2013 at 4:24 PM

    You don’t sit there and turn to your quarterback and with a puppy dog look and say, “Help us, we don’t know what we’re doing out here…Help us!”

  8. goirishgo - Sep 19, 2013 at 5:45 PM

    Rees is clearly standing taller, is outwardly more confident and is displaying leadership skills heretofore unseen. Great to see him rallying the guys. Now we need someone to step up similarly on the defensive side of the ball.

  9. andy44teg - Sep 19, 2013 at 6:31 PM

    Anyone else see Badger got a waiver for this year? Gotta be happy for the guy and wish him luck…except when the Irish roll into Provo!

    • andy44teg - Sep 19, 2013 at 6:37 PM

      Ok…how’s that work..BYU plays @ ND again this year??

      • papadec - Sep 19, 2013 at 9:42 PM

        Maybe ND traded Badger for back-to-back games @ South Bend. It is interesting.

  10. grattanstanford - Sep 19, 2013 at 9:28 PM

    Idk about you but I hope his fake twitter gf dies just look at the results from last year

  11. danirish - Sep 20, 2013 at 10:01 AM

    I think I was too hard on the Irish after the Purdue game. Now that I think about it – have your bad games against crappy teams! The second half was pretty dang good football! I do hope that issues are cleared up – we have some good teams to play!

  12. 1historian - Sep 20, 2013 at 12:10 PM

    There was a point in the 3rd (4th?) quarter last Saturday at which Rees gathered the offense around him and it was clear that he was in charge. His attitude said “follow me” and the offense responded. He might not be the most physically talented QB we’ve ever had but he has the respect of the entire TEAM, not only the offense.

    To my fellow occupants of the peanut gallery – TR IS THE LEADER OF THE TEAM. He knows and trusts Kelly, Kelly knows and trusts him.

    A leader has yet to emerge on the defense, but the talent is there and IMO it’s only a matter of time.

    Sometime tomorrow afternoon would be nice.

  13. tlbuljac - Sep 20, 2013 at 7:46 PM

    I will give “some” credit to Rees for his “somewhat” game improvement to date. I agree that he has earned his teammates respect and is trying his best to be our offensive leader. However, I am still very disappointed in some of his decision making or should I say “lack of” decision making that have caused us to turnover the ball at critical times. Ex: Midway through fourth quarter with just over 9 minutes to go while trailing Michigan by 4 points, we drove the ball into their territory and had 4th down and less than 2 yards to go for the first down at the 22 yard line. Rees took the snap and scrambled to his left while looking for his receiver in the end zone. There was no defensive player within five yards of him and could have and should have ran the ball for the sure fire first down and possibly more. Given that Rees seldom if ever runs the ball he chose to go for the home run and what would have been the lead. It was still anyone’s game and we should have at least gone for the damn FG that would have left us a single point behind. His pass was wide to the right of the receiver and Michigan took over and drove the field while receiving two back-to-back interference calls. One of which was a clear interception by our receiver, but you guessed it, we where playing in their “Big House” and the refs did not make that important call correctly. I will give Tommy the benefit of the doubt that this could have been coach BK’s call to go for it all. This being the case, then it was a down right poor coaching call and IMO cost us the game.Had it been BK’s call, Rees should have seen the “given” easy first down had he chose to run. He easily would have gained the two yards and possibly more. The very worst that could happen is that he failed to get the first down thus turning the ball over to Michigan inside their 20 yard line…DUH!!! Poor decision making on either BK or Rees part. This is not the first time that Rees had the chance to run for a positive gain only to heave the ball into no mans land and giving up the ball. And it most likely will not be the last. This has been the case all of Rees career while at ND, he very seldom if ever runs the ball and I understand that he just doesn’t possess the talent of a Golsen that is an option player. Rees does however have the unique talent to read the defense and make last minute changes prior to the snap…he is extremely gifted in that manner, however it would be great to see him “tuck” the ball and go for it when daylight is obviously “CLEAR”…Tommy will continue to put up points for us…he has too…it’s a must…given our poor defense that puts pressure on him to score, because they lack in their own abilities to hold the opposing offense while on the field…..As always….GO IRISH!!!!!

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