Tommy Rees' Big Game vs. Arizona State Proves Malik Zaire Must Remain on Bench

Chris Roling@@Chris_RolingFeatured ColumnistOctober 6, 2013

Oct 5, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish quarterback Tommy Rees (11) drops back in the first quarter against the Arizona State Sun Devils at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports
Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Notre Dame quarterback Tommy Rees has been the object of much scrutiny after a horrendous start to the 2013 season, but he turned things around in a big way against No. 22 Arizona State as the Fighting Irish pulled off the major upset, 37-34.

Rees controlled his erratic play and turned the ball over just once in the contest en route to throwing for 279 yards and three touchdowns.

While it's not encouraging that Rees completed less than 50 percent of his passes, backup and freshman Malik Zaire must hold off on his much-anticipated debut for now.

Zaire was a prized get for the Fighting Irish this offseason, and the freshman has been suggested as the starter by many recently, including Bleacher Report's Adam Kramer:

Rees' play through the season had been miserable leading up to the contest with the Sun Devils. That was no better exemplified than his 9-of-24 and three-interception performance against Oklahoma two weeks ago. There were two interceptions in first 16 seconds of the game, one that was returned for a touchdown and another that set up an additional score in Notre Dame's eventual loss.

Not all sins are forgiven after one positive game (in some areas more than others), but keep in mind the Sun Devils tout an outstanding pass defense that—before this game—had allowed only one quarterback in four tries to throw for over 200 yards this season. That has to count for something.

The bottom line is Rees did enough for the Fighting Irish to win the 2013 edition of the Shamrock series from Arlington and get Notre Dame back on track with a 4-2 record as the team preps for its date with USC next week.

Follow B/R's Chris Roling on Twitter for more news and analysis @Chris_Roling

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