Notre Dame quarterback Tommy Rees had no problem passing his first test of 2013, leading the Irish to a 28-6 victory over Temple.
Sure, he was playing an Owls team that was coming off of a 4-7 season. However, the senior put on a performance that showed he’s fully capable of leading the school to success against any opponent.
Regardless, his play should be under the microscope for the next several days.
What He Did Well
Following the suspension of would-be starter Everett Golson, there were questions about whether Rees would be able to pick up the pieces. It made sense, given that the senior put together two lackluster campaigns in 2010 and 2011—32 touchdowns to 22 interceptions.
However, within the first five minutes, Rees led two quick drives that resulted in a pair of lengthy touchdown tosses to DaVaris Daniels.
SportsCenter said it best:
Notre Dame's offense through two drives: 6 plays, 164 yards, 14 points. Tommy Rees is getting it DONE.— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) August 31, 2013
With another bomb in the second quarter—a 66-yard rocket to Troy Niklas for six—Rees put his big-play ability on full display. He showed that regardless of Notre Dame’s positioning on the field, he’s always a threat to put up some points.
Furthermore, Rees played mistake-free football.
His 16 completed passes won’t amaze anyone. However, he still managed to rack up 346 yards through the air. Not to mention, he threw no interceptions.
With a defense as stout as the Irish’s, sometimes that’s all it takes to get the team a victory.
What He Struggled With
While the short-scoring drives are terrific, Notre Dame can’t expect every one of its opponents to have a secondary as weak as Temple’s.
When that’s the case—which it will be, more often than not—Rees must be able to orchestrate lengthy, time-consuming drives. That's something he failed to demonstrate on Saturday.
The Irish had no drives of 10 plays or more. In comparison, the Owls had two and four drives of nine plays or more.
But what hurt the team the most was Rees’ inability to convert on third down.
As a whole, Notre Dame was just 5-of-12 on third down. Furthermore, the team was just 2-of-9 on passing downs and 1-of-8 in attempts of five yards or more with Rees on the field.
The Irish can’t expect to get away with that against tougher opponents. With a trip to Michigan next Saturday, Rees needs to work on these deficiencies immediately.
Overall Grade: B
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