Senior Tommy Rees has his detractors, but he also has a 14-4 career record as a starter.
You don't know me, unless you're my sister Mary, who asked for the link to this site after she heard about the new gig, or you're my neighbor Tim, who already reads Bleacher Report. A lot.
You may know my name, which appears somewhere between periodically and regularly in the South Bend Tribune as part of its Notre Dame football coverage, but I'm new here.
No, I'm not leaving the Tribune, but I am adding Bleacher Report to the places where I'll write about Notre Dame football, which I've done since 1997 in some way, shape or form.
Davie. O'Lea(oops). Willingham. Weis. And now Kelly.
What's that all mean? For you, it means you have another place to read about your beloved Irish.
Now that you know a little more about me, the guys at B/R have asked me to answer a few questions to help you better know me, beyond the fact that I have a wife, two boys and a dog. Here goes.
Best athlete or coach to interview OR athlete or coach I'd love to interview?
Two summers ago, I had the privilege to go to the Los Angeles area for a magazine piece on Notre Dame running back Cierre Wood. I knew that he was an interesting personality, but I was pleasantly surprised at how open and refreshing he was.
He talked about what he would do if a lion had hold of his arm. He talked about how he would escape a burning building. He talked about buying a pet monkey. He talked about how he believes he's beautiful. He is by far the most authentic athlete I've interviewed.
Best player or team covered?
This one is easy. Last year's Notre Dame team. Nobody saw it coming, which made the story so refreshing. What was so entertaining was seeing the team develop a confidence that it wouldn't be beat. At no point in the week leading up to the USC game over Thanksgiving weekend did I believe that ND would lose.
Most memorable game covered?
ND-USC, 2005. Bush Push. Green jerseys. I've often thought about trying to find a DVD of that game, but haven't yet done so. It's something I need to do.
Who will emerge as Notre Dame's best running back in 2013?
The depth of names speaks to the recruiting success Brian Kelly has had, with George Atkinson III, Greg Bryant and Tarean Folston among the choices. But in seeing brief flashes of USC transfer Amir Carlisle, there's something special there. He glides when he runs and he cuts at full speed. He may not have the most rushing yards out of that group, but he's the most dangerous back.
What can we expect from Tommy Rees?
Solid guy. A quiet-type leader. Good passer on short and intermediate routes. Two areas, , however, are shortcomings, those being running ability and the deep ball. If he has improved even slightly in both of those areas, he has a chance to maintain the starting job throughout the season. If not, and if losses mount, we'll see somebody else. In fact, I would be surprised if Kelly doesn't use three quarterbacks this year regardless, but Rees' success will dictate how much time the other two -- Andrew Hendrix and Malik Zaire -- receive.
How much will Kelly use the Pistol Offense in 2013?
Asked this week about it, Kelly addressed it, but insisted his team remains a primarily Shotgun team. This will be a week-by-week storyline. And I guess that's the answer: It will change week to week depending on the opponent. But it gives ND one more piece of ammunition, and it's a smart move by Kelly to implement it.
What should we expect from Bob Diaco's defense this year?
Generally more of the same as last year with perhaps a little less dominance. Gone is Manti Te'o, whose savvy helped him become a turnover machine (the good kind) last season. Kelly has addressed defense in recruiting, and the fruits of those efforts are starting to pay off. Diaco likes to mix and match personnel depending on the situation, and he has the tools to do it. Expect the defense to again be the strength of the team.
2013 Season Prediction for Notre Dame.
Before Golson was suspended, I had them going 10-2. My gut tells me that his departure costs them a game, possibly Arizona State. Most everyone you talk to has them losing to Stanford, and then another game somewhere early in the season. I say Michigan. Final prediction: 9-3.