Oct 27, 2013, 4:14 PM EDT
Craig Chval, the official 2013 football beat writer for the Strong & True blog, is currently a junior at the University of Notre Dame. Over the course of the year Craig will bring you insight from within the student section, interviews with Fighting Irish players and previews of each game. You can follow Craig (and the rest of the Notre Dame student beat writing staff) on twitter at @JrNDBloggers.
Tommy Rees threw for 284 yards yesterday.
It’s not a whole lot. In fact, it’s only the fourth highest total of the season for the senior. This is why I roll my eyes at handpicked stats, especially ones that feature something like total yardage for an individual player. It’s why some people think Matthew Stafford is an elite quarterback.
Edit: Funnily enough, I wrote this blog before today’s Lions game.
Because Rees had the best game of his career this weekend. Those 284 yards came on 22 passes. To put that in perspective, his 314 yards against Michigan took 51 attempts. Especially against an overmatched opponent, the keys to quarterbacking are efficiency and limiting turnovers.
Over the entire day Rees had as many incompletions – five – as he had touchdowns. And for the second straight game, the often unfairly maligned senior had no turnovers. Those touchdowns accounted for 148 of his 284 passing yards to five different receivers.
There are two kinds of blowouts: ones that feature five passing touchdowns, and those without a pass thrown in the second half (see Miami, 2012).
To be honest, I prefer games like Miami last year. They have a Holtzian “try to stop us from ramming it down your throats” attitude that I like. But, hey, I’ll take a shootout too. I’ll especially take it when our offense needed the spark against one of the country’s worst defensive teams.
I don’t know what a 35-point victory over Air Force means long-term, but there’s no doubt this team has improved substantially since the first couple weeks. I have to admit, though, the first quarter got me a bit scared. I don’t think I ever considered the possibility that we would lose, but watching close games in public places (thanks, CBS Sports) is never healthy for me.
Fortunately, the defense tightened up and we got a display of the young talent of the Irish receivers. Chris Brown and William Fuller each had their first career touchdowns, and Corey Robinson added his second.
Getting the team tuned up against Air Force, Navy, and Pittsburgh could be critical for the final two games. I think Irish fans are a little concerned that a 6-2 record isn’t good enough to crack the AP top 25, but continuing to take care of business will fix that. And wins over BYU and Stanford at the end of the year would put Notre Dame in great position for bowl season.
On Friday, I said I hoped the Irish would get a jumpstart on offense, they would control the ball, and they would stay healthy. With high marks on all three, Notre Dame delivered its first drama-free win since the season opener.
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