Notre Dame quarterback Tommy Rees is suspended for the team's opener against Navy in Ireland, and he will need to win the starting job for the home opener in Week 2.
Earlier this month, Matt Fortuna of ESPN.com reported coach Brian Kelly suspended the junior quarterback after he was arrested in May. In July, Rees plead guilty to resisting arrest and illegal consumption of alcohol by a minor.
The quarterback now finds himself in a difficult position.
The Chicago Tribune's Jack McCarthy reports Rees is mentoring the other quarterbacks on the team. While he is being a good teammate, he is also helping his competition.
Everett Golson and Andrew Hendrix are battling to start the season opener in Dublin, and Rees is doing his job to prepare the inexperienced quarterbacks. Neither player has started a game, so the Irish will need someone to step up.
Hendrix is the only quarterback with game experience, but he did not play in many games. He came in during a route of Air Force and also played during the team's final three losses.
The team will face a difficult schedule that ends with preseason No. 1 USC. The Irish have several tough opponents on their schedule, so they will need great play out of the quarterback position.
Experience should not guarantee a job, and Rees will most likely be the starter when his suspension is over. He is the only quarterback on the roster with starting experience. The junior needs to prove he is mature off the field and on the field.
Rees has thrown 32 touchdowns to 22 interceptions in his career, so he has not been a great quarterback. He does not have great numbers but has been a good starter.
The quarterback started the final 12 games last season. He led the team to a 8-4 record and a berth in the Champs Sports Bowl. If not for a disappointing fourth quarter in his first start, the Irish would have beaten Michigan and made a better bowl game.
Wide receiver Michael Floyd is now in the NFL, and the team will need players to take his place. Without Floyd, it will be difficult for either backup quarterback to be great in the first game of the season. Notre Dame has a good team, but it has an unproven offense.
The Irish need seniors Tyler Eifert and Theo Riddick to make plays in the opening game. When Rees returns, he will get back on the same page with his offense.
Coach Kelly sent a message by suspending his quarterback. He is now making Rees earn his way back into the lineup. The junior took a big step by coaching his competition, and he is putting the team first.
Rees is 12-4 as a starter in his career. The Irish need him to work his way back onto the field and give them a chance this season. His experience gives the team its best shot to play through a difficult schedule.
Until the September 8 game against Purdue, Rees faces the challenge of earning his spot in the starting lineup.