Notre Dame Football: Will Tommy Rees Still Be Irish Starting QB After Week 1?

Randy ChambersAnalyst IJune 13, 2013

November 26, 2011; Stanford, CA, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish quarterback Tommy Rees (11) warms up before the game against the Stanford Cardinal at Stanford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

It's best not to listen to head coach Brian Kelly when he names a starting quarterback. He has spent his Notre Dame days changing quarterbacks more than your local gas station changes its prices. If you are a quarterback on the depth chart and Kelly is the coach, there is a great chance you are going to see playing time at some point.

So when Tommy Rees was named the starter, it's best to stick your fingers in your ear and scream at the top of your lungs. We can't hear you, Coach Kelly.

Sure, with Everett Golson suspended, it's pretty obvious Rees will be the starter. But when will panic begin to set in? When will Kelly get frustrated after a poor throw and put in Andrew Hendrix? 

You know it's bound to happen sooner or later.

The good news is that all of that talk can be pushed to the side for at least a week. Notre Dame begins the season in South Bend against Temple, one of its weaker opponents. The Owls only won four games in their first season in the Big East and had a dreadful defense that couldn't stop a faucet from leaking.

Temple had the worst defense in the Big East, allowing 436 yards a game to conference opponents,  199 on the ground. Notre Dame won't need a month of practice to figure out a game plan. These numbers play to Rees' strengths and should result in an easy victory for the Fighting Irish.

Rees isn't a quarterback who you want throwing the ball 30-plus times a game. He isn't going to put up the sexy numbers or win any Heismans. Even against a subpar team such as South Florida, Notre Dame is vulnerable with Rees at the controls. The Bulls went into Notre Dame Stadium in 2011 and left with a win after Rees threw two costly interceptions.

Rees is a game manager. As long as he plays within his limits and doesn't try to do too much, he will be just fine. Rees served as a backup throughout last year's undefeated regular season and thrived in a limited role.

He played in nine games and only once had more than 15 pass attempts. His completion percentage of 57.6 and 436 passing yards aren't spectacular, but he made key plays when needed. Managing the game is what Rees will be asked to do against Temple, and it will be a winning formula.

The Irish have a handful of solid running backs who can be counted on to perform at a high level. Those guys should be licking their chops going up against a team that was ranked 102nd in the country in rushing defense. The Owls allowed 301 rushing yards to Villanova and 534 rushing yards to Army, which included nine rushing touchdowns. The Irish should run the ball 40 times and call it a day.

Even though Kelly has a short fuse with quarterbacks, it would take a colossal mistake for Rees to mess this up. This isn't a game against Michigan or USC; it's Temple, a squad that has low expectations under first-year head coach Matt Rhule. It is Week 2 when Rees will be tested. That's when the Irish travel to Michigan Stadium to play the Wolverines.

Until then, Rees will remain the starter.


Note: All stats come from unless otherwise noted.