3 things to know about Tommy Rees, Notre Dame's QB vs. Michigan
1. He might be Plan B, but he's a good Plan B.
Tommy Rees isn't supposed to be Notre Dame's starting quarterback. Last season's starter, Everett Golson, was scheduled to return and retain his position on the depth chart, and Rees would finish his Fighting Irish career on the bench. Golson ran into academic issues this offseason, though, and Rees won a three-way derby for the starting position in August training camp.
Rees is hardly the typical backup, though. For one, he has plenty of starting experience. Rees started the final five games of 2010 for the Irish, winning the last four after a one-point loss to Tulsa. He started all 13 games for Notre Dame in 2011, though he rotated with classmate Andrew Maxwell in the season's final two games. While he eventually lost out to Golson in 2012, Rees took snaps in nine games and went 8/11 for 115 yards against Michigan.
Last week, in is return to the starting lineup against Temple, Rees was poised and in command. He completed 16 of 23 attempts for 346 yards and three touchdowns.
While Notre Dame fans might lament the loss of Golson and pine for freshman phenom Malik Zaire, the fact is that Rees is the competent, experienced quarterback that many teams wish they had on the bench.
2. He has improved since the last time you saw him.
Rees was a turnover machine in 2010 and early 2011. In his first start against Tulsa, Rees threw thre interceptions. He handed out another three picks against USC later that year, and tossed a pair of interceptions in losses to South Florida and Michigan at the beginning of 2011. It was his interception rate, more than any other factor, that led to his benching against Stanford and Florida State at the end of 2011.
In spot duty in 2012, however, Rees protected the ball much more effectively. He threw just two interceptions in 59 pass attempts, a far better interception rate than he managed in the past. Last week against Temple, Rees threw for more than 300 yards without giving up an interception for the first time in his Fighting Irish career.
3. With that said, he's not going to beat you by himself.
While Rees can manage the Notre Dame offense, he is hardly a one-man wrecking crew. In 20 games as a starter, Rees has throw for 300 yards only three times, and has a 1-2 record in those games. Rees lost the only game in which he attempted more than 45 passes or completed more than 30.
He's also not going to beat you with his feet. Rees scrambled for 12 yards once as a freshman, but has otherwise never run for more than 10 yards and has a net minus-76 rushing yards for his career.
For more on Rees and the Fighting Irish, visit One Foot Down.
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