Brian Kelly Is Making a Mistake Keeping Tommy Rees as Notre Dame Starting QB

Randy ChambersAnalyst ISeptember 29, 2013

SOUTH BEND, IN - SEPTEMBER 21:  Tommy Rees #11 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish looks for a receiver against the Michigan State Spartans at Notre Dame Stadium on September 21, 2013 in South Bend, Indiana. Notre dame defeated Michigan State 17-13.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly was likely the most hardheaded kid growing up. Either that, or he remains the most loyal person in the world and refuses to turn his back on the one he believes in most.

Kelly told Brian Hamilton of the Chicago Tribune that quarterback Tommy Rees will remain the starter:

This is after the senior completed just 37.5 percent of his passes and threw three interceptions in a 35-21 loss to Oklahoma. It's the same song and dance with Kelly and his quarterback each season. He's great in limited action but completely falls apart when asked to carry the team for a full game.

Rees would make the greatest backup in college football, as he showed last season in Notre Dame's championship run. As a starter? Forget about it. Notre Dame has one of the most inconsistent starting quarterbacks in the country who can't be trusted with the game on the line.

He's completing 53.3 percent of his passes this season and has thrown five interceptions to 10 touchdowns.

The touchdown total in five games is impressive, but the constant turnovers are enough to wipe away any of the positives. It isn't a coincidence that in both games Rees has thrown an interception, the Irish have lost. In 2011, when Rees was the full-time starter, he threw two interceptions in three of Notre Dame's five losses. The proof is in the pudding: Rees folds in big games.

Still, Kelly refuses to make a change at the position that is holding back this offense. It can't be because of experience. Sure, Rees has the most game experience of any other quarterback, but Andrew Hendrix is also a senior who has been around a while. He knows the playbook and would actually bring running ability to an offense that is averaging just 25.4 points per game.

Athletic ability isn't something Rees is known for, and a quarterback who can hurt a defense with his legs could help open up the field and make this offense a lot more balanced. If it isn't Hendrix, Notre Dame should turn its attention to true freshman Malik Zaire.

He's considered the future of the team and has an elite skill set, so why not see what the kid's got? The original plan was to redshirt the young man and give him a year to get comfortable, but we've witnessed plenty of young quarterbacks in today's game take the bull by the horns. Some of the top quarterbacks in the country were freshmen when they made their marks. Gone are the days of a top prospect sitting on the sidelines for a few seasons to learn the ropes.

It also helps that Zaire is a playmaker with the ball in his hands. Defenses have yet to design the perfect blueprint to slow down an elite running quarterback. Defenders are struggling to defend the uptempo offenses and quarterbacks who can run and pass equally well. Just look at what Johnny Manziel did to Alabama in two games.

Switching starting quarterbacks wouldn't mean that Notre Dame is throwing in the towel on the season. It would actually show that the coaching staff is looking to improve in any way possible and isn't afraid to gamble a little bit. Would burning Zaire's redshirt really be that big of a deal? What's the worst that can happen?

The best-case scenario would be that Zaire lights the world on fire like so many young quarterbacks have done recently and the Irish compete for a BCS bowl. At worst, he wouldn't fulfill expectations right away, but he would gain valuable playing experience heading into next season when he likely will take over full-time.

The pros outweigh the cons at this point. That isn't the case with Rees still the starter.