Sep 19, 2013, 11:11 AM EDT
Back in the winter of 2009, the Notre Dame football program was in a time of change. Charlie Weis had just been relieved of his duties heading the Irish and the University had yet to conclude it’s national search for a new leader of the storied squad. As different Irish football commits changed their allegiances, many members stayed, including Lake Forest, Ill., product, quarterback Tommy Rees.
“I don’t even care who’s coming in,” Rees said as a high school senior. “I’m very much committed to Notre Dame and I’m going to keep it that way.”
This way of thinking has helped Rees get to where he is today, the starting quarterback at the University of Notre Dame.
Rees’ time at Notre Dame has had its fair share of ups and downs.
As a freshman in 2010, he subbed in for an injured Dayne Crist. The following year Rees was back as the number-two quarterback behind Crist, but Rees moved back into the starter role in the second half of the season opener against USF. He remained the lead-man throughout the entire 2011 campaign, but found himself in the backup role, again, in 2012.
Everett Golson would be named the starter for the Irish in ’12, but Rees filled in for an injured Golson on a couple of occasions and led the Irish to victories. Finally, in 2013, Rees was handed the reins to the offense without having a quarterback to battle in camp.
We know that through all the tribulations that Rees has encountered both on and off the field at Notre Dame, his teammates, coaches and confidants have been behind him.
But have all the Notre Dame fans had Rees’ back through his time as the signal-caller for the Irish?
The answer is sadly, no.
Without looking at the numbers (which we will do shortly) we are talking about a student-athlete who has been ready at every opportunity and done everything that has been asked of him. Never lowering his head, Rees has been right there to help the squad in any way possible. Whether it has been helping younger quarterbacks to become better leaders on the field or challenging himself in the classroom studying management at the Mendoza College of Business, Rees has been successful.
Yet, with all the qualitative accomplishments that Rees has registered on his resume, fans of Notre Dame and casual college football observers think that Rees should not be the starter for the Irish.
So let me give you some numbers…
As the late Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis used to say, “Just win baby.” And that’s exactly what Rees has done. Rees is 16-5 as a starter and 25-8 in games that he has participated in.
So winning isn’t everything to you. You want to see production…
We all know that Notre Dame has had seven student-athletes honored as recipients of the Heisman Trophy and the University has garnered 11 unanimous national titles, so what would you say if I told you that Rees is in the top-five of three different statistical categories?
Heading into this weekend’s game against Michigan State, Rees is the Notre Dame career-leader in completion percentage (63.2%), fourth in career touchdown passes (41) and fifth in career passing yards (5,389). Additionally, Rees is one of only five Irish signal-callers to throw for 40 or more touchdown passes in a career.
So you don’t care about what Rees has done for the Irish in the past, you just want to know what Rees has done for the Irish lately…
All Rees has done for the Irish lately is throw for 300 or more yards in each of the first three games of the season, a feat that has only been accomplished once in Notre Dame history prior to this year. Furthermore, the Irish have scored 28 points or more in each game this season for just the eighth time in school history.
So now you know Rees is pretty good compared to the Notre Dame greats like Joe Montana, Joe Theismann, Rick Mirer and others. We know times have changed, so let’s look at how he stacks up with the cream of the crop in college football today…
Through three games Rees has thrown for 969 yards, seventh in the football bowl subdivision (FBS). If you only factor in games played against FBS members, Rees leads the nation in total passing yards. His 323 passing yards per game average puts him in 13th-place nationally while his 14.91 yards per completion rate is 18th in the FBS.
So you don’t care about statistics, you just want to know that Rees can handle the pressure when the Irish are losing…
In the second-half of ball games this year, the Irish have outscored their opponent by a total of 24 points (52-28) for an average of 8 points per game. What Rees has done in the second-half of games in which the Irish are trailing going into halftime has been great. In the two games the Irish have trailed at the break, Michigan and Purdue, Rees has responded, completing 30 of 43 passes (69.7%) for 383 yards, three touchdowns and just one interception.
In my eyes there really isn’t much else to say about Rees. He has shown nothing but mental toughness and has given it his all when his number has been called.
So what else do you need to know to back the starting quarterback for your favorite college football team…
I shouldn’t have to tell you anything; he is your starting quarterback through wins and losses, touchdowns and interceptions and everything in between. But if you do need some reassurance that Tommy Rees is the “right kind of guy” to lead the Irish, you can look at the bevy of stats outlined above. It’s pretty clear.
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