As has been the case throughout his Notre Dame career, quarterback Tommy Rees had his fair share of ups and downs during his final collegiate start.
Fortunately, the senior did enough to lead the Fighting Irish to victory over Rutgers, 29-16, during Saturday’s New Era Pinstripe Bowl.
Sure, Rees may have been expected to do more against a Scarlet Knights squad that was coming off a 6-6 regular season and ranked No. 122 against the pass (311.4 YPG). However, all that matters at the end of the day is that he led Notre Dame to the win.
Regardless, Rees’ performance is bound to be under the microscope over the next couple of days.
What He Did Well
Coming into this matchup, it was a known fact that opposing quarterbacks feasted on Rutgers’ secondary.
Rees maintained that status quo, torching the unit for 319 yards on 27-of-47 passing. He also successfully moved the chains, recording 20 of the Irish’s 31 first downs through the air.
Although he didn’t throw a touchdown, he also didn’t throw an interception. That snapped his streak of four consecutive games with a pick.
But what Rees did best was making the necessary adjustments in the second half:
As you can see, not only was Rees far more accurate in the second half, but he also gained a larger chunk of yards with each attempt.
Not to mention, Rees was money when passing on third-down situations, only falling short once.
What He Did Poorly
When it came down to it, Rees just couldn’t make that final play to get it into the end zone.
So, instead of running away with the game by halftime, Notre Dame had to wait until midway through the fourth quarter to finally put the game away.
Eight times the team moved the ball inside the Scarlet Knights' 35. Only twice did the Irish manage to score a touchdown and both times came via the rushing attack.
To make matters worse, Rees was just 2-of-12 inside the Rutgers 30.
His lack of a passing touchdown becomes even more unforgivable when you consider just how generous the Scarlet Knights secondary has been all season long:
Tommy Rees (ND): 0 Pass TD in Pinstripe Bowl. Rutgers allowed 31 Pass TD this season, T-117th in the FBS entering the game. #RUTGvsND— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) December 28, 2013
Furthermore, this game marked the first time Rees was held without a touchdown in a start since 2011.
All in all, his lack of a finishing touch on drives leaves us with a sour taste in our mouths.
Overall Grade: B+
Rees played a solid game overall. But one has to imagine if this effort would have been good enough to lead the Irish to victory against an opponent who had even a decent secondary.
All stats and rankings used in this article are courtesy of CFBstats.com.