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Kelly: Rees needs to “avoid the noise”

Oct 1, 2013, 8:43 PM EST

Tommy Rees AP

This certainly isn’t the first time quarterback Tommy Rees has felt the fire from Notre Dame’s fanbase. About a year to date after Rees was booed entering the game in relief against Purdue last season, Rees is once again the whipping boy of Irish fans near and far as the senior quarterback’s performance against Oklahoma, 9 of 24 with two touchdowns but three first half interceptions, was a key factor in the disappointing 35-21 loss.

And while the treatment of Rees on social media like Twitter has been pretty pathetic, it’s not something head coach Brian Kelly thinks will effect the quarterback, who desperately needs to rally after back-to-back subpar Saturdays.

“If you’re the starting quarterback at Notre Dame and you can’t handle those things that are inevitably going to come your way after a loss, then you can’t be the quarterback at Notre Dame,” Kelly said. “It comes with the business of being the quarterback at Notre Dame.  You have to avoid the noise, when it’s good and when it’s bad.  And that’s just the nature of it.  It comes with being the quarterback at Notre Dame.”

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Here are a few other bits I found interesting after going back over Brian Kelly’s weekly press conference.

* For those back clamoring for Andrew Hendrix, Kelly’s critique of the senior’s play was fairly candid, especially his one throwing attempt, where Hendrix missed a wide open Davaris Daniels running free down the middle of the field.

Kelly talked about the reintroduction of Hendrix into the Irish offense after not taking any significant snaps last season.

“The way we presented it to Andrew is, look, you’ve got to help us win. You’ve got to help us win football games,” Kelly said. “But he’s got to be more effective than he was on Saturday.  He can’t go in there and we get two false start penalties.  We can’t miss a wide‑open receiver.  We’ve got to do a better job on our zone read.”

Rewatching Hendrix on the zone read, he still doesn’t look quite comfortable reading his keys, especially on one play where he kept the ball even with an unblocked defender coming right at him.

But even four years into the program, there’s no substitution for true game action, and on a Saturday where moving the chains is really important, Hendrix is going to need to be able to make the quick read both on runs and especially on pass plays, an area where it would be very helpful if he could show himself to be even moderately serviceable.

* There was plenty of grumbling about the way Bob Diaco and the Irish defense chose to defend the quick throws to the outside by Oklahoma. Sooners head coach Bob Stoops called the quick passing game an extension of their rushing attack, with the designed screens a part of their offensive game plan.

“They got the ball outside a couple of times, but it didn’t go to winning and losing the football game,” Kelly said of the Sooners’ success throwing quick screens. “Winning and losing the football game last week was turnovers and the two big plays.  I thought that by and large we minimized most of those plays to under 10 yards, but we will get attacked on the perimeter, there’s no question, we will have to continue to be on top of our game there.”

This was exactly the game plan last season against the Sooners as well, when Landry Jones completed 35 of 41 passes for 356 yards, but was limited to just seven yards an attempt as the Notre Dame defense put the clamps down as the Sooners got closer to the Irish endzone.

Kelly talked about why he’s willing to give up those short throws, something that’ll likely be very important this weekend against an Arizona State team that put together some “big chunk” plays in the second half of their victory over USC after being somewhat limited early.

“If you break down the game, they did not win the football game by throwing bubble screens and getting it out on the perimeter.  They’re doing it for other reasons,” Kelly said.

“What we need to do a better job in is keeping the ball, staying above the cut when we’re in three deep, not giving up quick slants for 56 yards.  Obviously if we minimize the big plays and the turnovers, we’re talking about a different football game here.”

If people think back to one of the schematic changes the Irish made last season against Oklahoma, they utilized motion to get an inside linebacker to vacate the middle of the field before running Everett Golson up the gut. The Irish chose not to shift their linebackers when motion occurred last Saturday, likely to stop the inside linebackers from vacating the middle of the field, an area that was caught for the back-breaking 56-yard touchdown pass.

  1. italianirish - Oct 2, 2013 at 12:54 PM

    First and foremost, BK 100% wants to win every game. As a head coach at a big time school, whether his goals are to get a better job elsewhere (NFL) or just make more cash (or prestige) at Notre Dame, the only way he does that is by winning games. With that in mind, if we would win more games if Andrew Hendrix was QB, he would be our starting QB. Unfortunately AH doesn’t give us a better chance to win games than TR.

    I agree with others who have said they’d like to see a little bit of Zaire here and there and then more and more until he’s ready to take over the team. One thing I haven’t seen brought up though is that he’s left handed. Had this been the plan all along and part of practices from the beginning, it might not be a big deal, but to start taking a good % of first team reps in practice now, would be a terrible idea. I’m not a football expert, but wouldn’t that mean every lineman has to learn to do everything the opposite direction? Possibly ZM has to move over and play right tackle? Receivers switch fields, running backs learn things the opposite way.

    With a very limited number of practice hours in a week, re-learning the entire offense backwards while also gameplanning with Tommy for the next opponent seems outrageous to me.

  2. brendanfitzgibbons - Oct 2, 2013 at 1:32 PM

    My problem with Tommy Rees and I think this goes for a lot of people on this blog is his play. Rarely have I seen people personally attack him on this blog. People have said over a thousand times, he is a good kid who is tying his best. And Im sorry as a Notre Dame fan you have a right to dislike the way someone is playing, especially at the University of Notre Dame where every year we are aiming for a National Championship.

    I take bigger issue with the double standard that BK and some ND sports writers seem to have with Rees, and for whatever reason Brian Kelly has no problem calling out all his other quarterbacks then Tommy. He did with Dayne Crist, Golson and now Hendrix. I dont blame Kelly for Giel’s departure or EG’s mishap but I do put responsibility on him for ever thinking that TR is a long term solution at QB. Rees could play 12 seasons at ND and every year they would be 8-4 at best. Every time. The statics do not lie. Thats great that he is the most accurate ND passer but that stat is incredibly biased considering how many short passes he has thrown.

    Im also tired of hearing ND sports writers and fans saying how smart he is, it is an insult to Qbs who dont have nearly 40 turnovers in their 2.5 year career. I played quarterback in high school and people always called me smart and I sucked. Haha. I think Everett Golson is beyond smarter than Rees on the football field, as are about 70-80 other division I quarterbacks. Im looking forward to Hendrix playing and I get why anyone would want to play Zaire we are starring at a bare minimum 8-4 season so why not play a talent that could be developed.

    I agree that the offense wasnt perfect last year but EG was getting better every game. He played well against one of the best defenses ever, and I think he will be ready next year. I also second NUDE and say that I cant wait until the Rees era is over, the fact that were still talking about Rees like this three years later is insane.

    • ndfan33 - Oct 2, 2013 at 2:02 PM

      I completely agree, the double standard is what’s bizarre. And if you are BK/martin why are you even giving him the freedom to change the play at the line of scrimmage? It’s like they refuse to accept his limitations and are trying to make him into something he’s not. The turning point from bad to worse IMO, was the interception at the end of the first half against Michigan. It’s like his confidence that was built up all of offseason and preseason this year went right out the window.

    • italianirish - Oct 2, 2013 at 2:11 PM

      So your solution is that we should play EG this season?

      Nobody thinks Tommy is a good QB, but sadly with 2 unexpected QB departures in the offseason, he really is the best we’ve got. Frankly, I’d like to see him run off the field and 2 RBs stand in the backfield–one of them takes the snap and the other plays a lead blocker role. Certainly not effective long term, but why not make the defense scratch there head every now and then and give the next team something to waste time thinking about in practice?

      RE: “Brian Kelly has no problem calling out all his other quarterbacks then Tommy”

      Maybe some of those other guys are motivated by being called out publicly for lacking this skill or that and he knows TR isn’t motivated by that. Just a guess. But also, as I said above, Tommy really is all we’ve got right now. I don’t see the value in saying publicly “this guy sucks! did you see how crappy those interceptions were?! What a joke he is!” While he might think it, that kind of talk is not going to help TR or the team one bit.

      • ndfan33 - Oct 2, 2013 at 2:30 PM

        No bc EG failed out. Play the back up qb’s and give them a chance. No one is saying tommy is a bad person etc, he is doing best he can do, he just not very good qb, yet BK has endless patience with him. As I recall crist got buried on bench after 1 pick first half against USF, same with EG last year against Michigan. It’s like ground hogs day, next year will be yet another season of breaking in a new qb.

    • nudeman - Oct 2, 2013 at 2:32 PM

      brendan,
      That’s excellent.

      How many times have we heard BK say, just this year, when speaking of RBs and QBs: “If he turns it over he’ll be standing on the sidelines next to me”.

      Well why is Tommy still playing?

      BK has no problem trashing Hendrix, talking of him missing a wide open Daniels.
      But when it comes to Rees’ INTs, excuse after excuse and fingers pointing elsewhere: The line blew it, the receivers ran the wrong routes, the DB made a great play, etc.

      Why do the media and fans lap up the inane crap about how smart he is?
      I have no doubt he has a nice 3.4 GPA and a solid IQ. But just because a guy jumps around at the line, changing plays and motioning guys into different positions – WTF good is that if he can’t execute or continues to throw into double and triple coverage?

      The fact that he’s STILL doing that, in year 4 tells me he ISN’T football smart at all.

      • ndfan33 - Oct 2, 2013 at 2:55 PM

        I can’t figure it out. In fact BK has a track record of playing freshman from the get go at all his other stops and rotating back ups in when others aren’t getting the job done. I always envisioned him coming to ND and running his uptempo style like he had in years past, where u can plug in any mobile type qb, and not miss a beat, much more like an Oregon. I will even give him last year, bc defense was so stout and red shirt freshman qb, so conservative game plan could win. But year 4 and offense looks confused with a senior qb at the helm is unacceptable. Remember him contacting NBC before his first game and telling them that they had to shorten commercials bc of torrid pace??? I think that his EGO has gotten so big with his climb to nd that he literally thinks he can “coach up” anybody. (Rees). But I think bigger issue is that he is confused with “identity” of what he wants run.

      • ndfaithful - Oct 2, 2013 at 7:56 PM

        I think you’re wrong about this and using selective memory.

        It’s simple to answer the question about why Tommy is playing. Tommy’s playing because BK believes TR is the best option to win a game.

        As for him defending his QB, everyone hear seems to ignore the comments BK makes that are critical of TR and latches on to everything else. In the post game press conference, BK clearly expressed frustration and called the second interception a bad pass. There was no mistaking it. He pinned the blame on TR, just like he answered the question directly when he was asked to assess AH’s performance.

        As for standing up for his QB, what do you expect him to do? Throw the whole team under the bus? Or just TR? How would that help them win? What do you want BK to do when somebody comments that TR is so smart? Do you want him to correct them? Should he start telling the world his QB is blowing it on a regular basis? How about “We SUCK” – that’s what most of the “fans” here say.

        I won’t argue the TR is smart or that he’s playing well. He is what he is. He’s an 8-5 kind of QB. But all this crap about BK with some hidden agenda to promote Tommy is just total BS too. He’s just trying to answer questions, manage the team, and win games.

        After a week of reading the most ridiculous comments from this group EVER, I have to say that BK can’t win with any of you after a loss. He can’t win with most of you even after a win.

        Most of the commenters here have changed this from “Irish Central” to “Irish Cesspool”. ND’s “fans” are playing worse than their team right now.

      • viktory2013 - Oct 3, 2013 at 1:46 AM

        Absolutely true. The Rees saga is almost too bizarre to comprehend. ND has had many shitty qb’s over the decades, some actually worse than Rees. But they seldom played for more than a few games or at very most, the better part of a season. It would have been incomprehensible to have Pat Steenberge or Cliff Brown still starting into a FOURTH YEAR!!! Ara usually hustled in a Hanratty or Clements asap, ready or not. Rees is so bad that he’s become the butt of ridicule on ESPN and CBS. Zaire might possibly be worse but I doubt it. He has the skill set and moves to do as well as Goals on and certainly better than Rees. No other team nationwide has a problem dropping in freshman whenever necessary and neither does Kelly, except when it comes to Rees…and then he doesn’t want to hear it. Go figure.

    • ndfaithful - Oct 2, 2013 at 8:26 PM

      I think you’re imagining this ‘double standard’ and making it up because the team is losing and we’re all frustrated.

      Anybody that watches football can see that Tommy’s a good teammate and a mediocre quarterback. I’ll even say he’s a BAD QB compared with our expectations. So he’s bad. Unfortunately, he’s shown himself to be the best we have. That makes for a frustrating experience this year.

      People say that BK never says anything critical of TR. That’s simply not true. But would those same people prefer that he start bashing TR like the goons in here?

  3. don74 - Oct 2, 2013 at 1:35 PM

    Everyone’s comments are right as there is one big unknown. What is Tommy doing at the line pre snap. There is an assumption he is changing plays. Kelly has said too much is made of TR’s pre snap stuff. More likely he is shifting the line and blocking assignments as well as pick ups.

    the real problem is everything has to be perfect for the O to work with TR at the helm. They need to be in the right blocking scheme, the receivers need to run perfect routes, TR needs to make the right choice and execute the throw.

    So why not just run the ball. They are not built that way. There is no full back, no real blocking back. Even Georgia Tech had trouble the first year they went to a running attack as they didn’t have the people.

    Football, pro and college is a QB game.

    Kelly puts plans in he believes the team can execute. Every week the plan is changing as he learns what they can not do. This week there will be something different and there will be more changes after the bye.

    For the old timers this is 1972 with a third stringer, Cliff Brown, playing.

    • nudeman - Oct 2, 2013 at 2:46 PM

      Remember Cliff well. #8. Terrible.
      ND’s 1st black QB.

    • nudeman - Oct 2, 2013 at 3:55 PM

      BTW Don … Cliff was ’71.
      ’72 was Clements’ first year

      • don74 - Oct 2, 2013 at 4:00 PM

        yep, 71 season. The last year for the “sons” of ND. Thank goodness it was the last year before co education finally reached South Bend.

      • papadec - Oct 2, 2013 at 7:01 PM

        AH-HA!!!!!!! There it is! The cultural change that has been the downfall of ND football. Co-eds!!! Girls/women in the classrooms – distractions! Never mind ’88 – that was a fluke. That premise is just as crazy as any other finger pointing going on here. Football has been a part of ND long before any of us got here, and will be here long after we are all gone. There have been good years, great years, and (cough-cough) not so good years. It happens, it will continue to happen. Live with it! Last year was not a fluke (despite what the trolls have to say). ND football will survive this year, and any others that don’t start off too well.

  4. nudeman - Oct 2, 2013 at 2:44 PM

    Just looked at the NCAA Stats. Check these out, along with my conclusion at the end:

    Passing Offense: Rank: 55 (and dropping like a stone; 300+ yd games a distant memory)
    Sacks Allowed: Rank: 19 (actually pretty damn good protection)
    Passes Intercepted: Rank: 84 (5 INTs; tied with a bunch of other lousy offenses)
    Completion %: Rank: 109 (so much for the most accurate passer in ND history; 51.7%. PU-U-UKE)
    Red Zone Offense: Rank: 111 (Tied with Akron; bring back Faust)
    Passing Efficiency: 81 (I don’t understand this stat, but I do know 81 out of 123 is bad)

    So what does this tell me?
    Despite pretty good pass protection (top 20% in NCAA):
    1. He still throws picks WAY more than most QBs,
    2. He is completing WAY fewer passes than most QBs.
    3. He stinks in the redzone

    If ND was giving up sacks by the boatload, I could understand this crap.
    But HE’S GETTING GOOD PROTECTION and STILL makes terrible decisions.

    You say the rushing ranking is bad, and that doesn’t help?

    True, ranked 92. But last week they ran for 200+ yards and he threw 3 picks.

    Aside from the obligatory comments about what a nice guy he is, there is no defending Tommy as a QB.
    He’s awful.

    • dbldmr - Oct 2, 2013 at 3:02 PM

      With the (apparent) quarterback options this year it made me think of a Woody Allen character’s quote asking for the wisdom to choose between the horrible and the miserable.

      God, grant the coaching staff the same wisdom.

    • papadec - Oct 2, 2013 at 7:12 PM

      Uh-oh – someone missed his meds this morning.

  5. mediocrebob - Oct 2, 2013 at 4:08 PM

    @Brendan:

    You are completely right. Every year Notre Dame is aiming for a NC. I think that’s every programs aim though. And I also believe that’s Kelly’s aim as well.

    My point is that all of these people calling for a change has ABSOLUTELY NO CLUE what goes on every day in practice. BK would be playing Zaire if that gave a better chance if winning.

    @nd…:

    Is that Bob Davie comment your come back? That’s how you come back to someone throwin out facts? Do better.

    • ndfan33 - Oct 2, 2013 at 5:03 PM

      @mediocreboob

      Oh? Facts? Where are your facts? My fault assuming you were a division 1 coach and know the ins of what goes on inside the nd program? Because that’s what you lead us to believe. If you are, then come forward. If not then piss off.

      • papadec - Oct 2, 2013 at 7:15 PM

        WOW! It’s an epidemic of missed meds – nude, 33………..

      • dickasman - Oct 2, 2013 at 8:09 PM

        Speaking of meds, are you a Cialis or Viagara guy?

      • papadec - Oct 3, 2013 at 1:49 AM

        Lisinopril, Simvastatin & Warfarin with an assortment of eye drops for Glaucoma. To put it in language you understand – getting old sucks! – what’s your excuse for the illegals? Aside from the obvious?

      • 4horsemenrideagain - Oct 3, 2013 at 10:00 AM

        does mescaline count as a “med” if i bought it from a guy in an alley behind a farmacia in tijuana?

  6. mediocrebob - Oct 2, 2013 at 4:10 PM

    Haha now were calling out egos? Name a college coach anywhere that doesn’t have an enormous ego.

  7. brendanfitzgibbons - Oct 2, 2013 at 4:22 PM

    italianirish -I never said it was “productive” and I understand what are you saying. I honestly wouldnt be saying anything and just Rees play speak for itself, but every time Im on this blog which I really like there are people still saying, Keith and BK as well “Rees is a genius, he is so smart, but all our other quarterbacks need to play better,” and thats bs.

    Remember BK after Crist had the USC fumble, “Talk to him about it,” he was so mad. He has publicly criticized every ND QB but Rees. Two years ago Keith wrote a post saying we HAD to have Rees as QB, last year he wrote a post saying that Golson needs to play better or be pulled. Meanwhile we have a quarterback who honestly could make a push to have 50 turnovers in his career, radio silence from the BK team about his play, which as NUDE just pointed out is at best around 70th in the country. And thats with Tommy playing better. Again, I cant wait till this era is over.

    As far as what I want is to play Hendrix more, try Zaire, why not? You honestly think we are going to finish better than 8-4 this year with Rees? I seriously doubt that. Im not saying bench Tommy completely but what do we have to lose? I dont think either Hendrix or Zaire are the definitive answer and I will be just as critical of them if they want to throw 70 balls directly at the other team. But why not try?

  8. simmel65 - Oct 2, 2013 at 4:27 PM

    My concerns really are with the coaches. I’m not going to pretend that I know more than them, but from an outsiders perspective, we just seem to:

    1) Run more of plays that we can’t run
    2) Run fewer plays that we run well

    For example,

    Throwing to RB’s in the flat – Rees can’t throw to the RB’s out on the flat. He missed Folston so bad and has for years. Really EG didn’t do much better. I remember Riddick making insane catches so many times. Atkinson doesn’t catch well… But yet, we still run this play over and over with little success

    Blitzing and picking up blitzes – Two plays from the last game. Rees gets sacked for the pick 6 and our line doesn’t pick it up and Bennett does another lame blitz that is picked up by the Oklahoma offensive tackle, who TURNS his head and tells the QB who then throws for an easy pitch and catch. Why aren’t we the team that takes advantage of this?

    Running the ball – Our fist play every game should be a run, yet we pass… It is our strength, yet we go away from it.

    To blame TR is just not right. I’m pretty sure he is doing the best he could and yes, he is our best option. So for me, it’s more on the coaches than anyone else.

    • ndfan33 - Oct 2, 2013 at 5:14 PM

      Nobody is blaming Rees, they are simply questioning BK’s decision to keep playing him.

  9. mediocrebob - Oct 2, 2013 at 6:27 PM

    My facts are simply that none of us are inside the program and that BK knows a lot more about his profession than any of us do. And that he wants ND to win more than we do.

    Try to keep up.

  10. mediocrebob - Oct 2, 2013 at 6:30 PM

    I say get Folston a lot of carries. Wondering what is going on with Bryant. Hurt? Trouble with school? Not as advertised?

    (I don’t know bc IM NOT INSIDE THE PROGRAM. Maybe one of these people that are can fill us in)

    • dickasman - Oct 2, 2013 at 8:08 PM

      No, yes what recruit not from Indiana or Ohio isn’t, yes, no.

  11. mediocrebob - Oct 2, 2013 at 7:10 PM

    Can you imagine trying to convince guys to come play in South Bend without females? Nevermind the winters

    • papadec - Oct 2, 2013 at 7:21 PM

      See – goes back to what I posted above – blame it on the girls/women. They don’t play, they don’t coach, they don’t recruit. They make perfect scapegoats. I think it’s time to take my meds.

      • dickasman - Oct 2, 2013 at 8:06 PM

        I agree with you papa I think women should suck blow take and stay home but I am republican and I am not gay so.

  12. cpfirish - Oct 2, 2013 at 8:26 PM

    I guess I don’t understand it. Brian Kelly has had three full years under his belt… And he still is having problems at the QB spot? And I thought he was this offensive mined big shot! And all he can come up with is freaking turnover immobile tommy Rees!!! Wow!! I mean c’mon this is notre dame!!

  13. mediocrebob - Oct 2, 2013 at 8:51 PM

    Well said NDfaithful

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