Tommy Rees: Turnover Tommy or Triumphant Tommy?

(A guest post from former Notre Dame great, Oscar McBride.)

A look ahead at Brian Kelly's starting quarterback, Tommy Rees. (Robin Alam/Icon SMI)

A look ahead at Brian Kelly’s starting quarterback, Tommy Rees. (Robin Alam/Icon SMI)

Welp Notre Dame fans, here we are again staring down the barrel of yet another football season swirling with questions and naysayers about the Fighting Irish. Here are some of the immediate questions that come to mind along with some I’ve heard myself:

What will the Irish do without Te’o, Eifert & Lewis-Moore?

Will Golson return to Notre Dame?

Can Rees be a suitable “stand-in” for Golson?

Is Brian Kelly off to the NFL after this season?

Whoa…. Hold on… wait –what the..?

Let me be the first to say that Notre Dame, although arguably the most historical football program on the planet, has its issues and challenges much like any other program – I don’t believe talent is one of them. Think what you must, but Notre Dame will continue to compete at the highest level while maintaining the highest academic standards and integrity.

Brian Kelly and staff have brought the “swag” back to Notre Dame … and although it may be true that there are some huge holes to fill I’m reminded of a team in 1993 who had tons of questions surrounding its quarterback, tight-ends, linebackers and inexperienced offensive line – how did that pan out?

I’ll let you marinate on that one for a minute.

Allow me address one of the aforementioned questions specifically as I take a quick glance at the beginning of the season.

“Can Rees be a suitable stand-in for Golson?”

Are you serious? Stand-in? Ummm … let me think …errr …well … YES!

Look there’s no arguing that Rees isn’t as “fleet of foot” as Golson, but he is a proven leader and was called in several times last season to quiet things down for the pup when he was a little rattled? Anyone remember the Michigan game?What I’m simply saying is what you lose in athleticism and impromptu dramatics you gain a seasoned mixture of moxy, leadership and accuracy… yes, accuracy.

Lemme ‘splain …

Irish faithful, have we so soon forgotten that Tommy Rees was a starter as a freshman and was the incumbent starter until he met with an unfortunate “incident” of his own a season ago? Have we forgotten that Tommy Rees was the first freshman quarterback to EVER win a bowl game in the storied history of Notre Dame Football?

I reiterate … EVER.

Wait there’s more …

Did we forget that Tommy Rees started all 12 games in the 2011 season and had the second highest single-season completion percentage (65.5%) behind Jimmy Clausen (68%)? Did we forget that Tommy Rees had a streak of over 130 pass attempts without an interception?

Hold on … wait for it ….wait for it ….

Have we forgotten that Tommy Rees is a WINNER? He has a blistering 14-4 record as a starter and boasts more than 4,000 yards passing and 30 touchdowns in his career (“Turnover Tommy” nickname not withstanding)?

Relax people! Rees in my mind is getting a second chance; much like Golson will probably get if/when he returns in the spring. I believe Rees will play well and emerge as a leader for the widely questioned Irish during their 2013 campaign … at the end of the day he has to.

Now … for those of you who are worried about the sky falling without the Irish shaking down the thunder? Please … the quarterback position is the last thing the University of Notre Dame needs to worry about.


Oscar McBride ‘94

Want to learn more about Oscar McBride? You can find him on Twitter at @Ask_Oscar, on Facebook at Ask Oscar McBride, and on his web site at

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  • kyndfan

    Te’o- Prince
    Eifert- the crazy dude that likes to take his shirt off.
    KLM- by committee, so much talent there not sure who will rise to the top.
    Tommy is more accurate and much better making reads than Everett. The one thing we will miss is the designed QB runs. If you’ve seen or heard anything from frosh RB Greg Bryant, you’ll know the running game could be better than last year. Undefeated is possible again. Now if we can just figure out how to beat the pro team from down south…..

    • Lisa

      Anything is possible! Aug 31 can’t get here soon enough.

  • starkruzr

    Oscar (and Lisa), not sure if you saw this, but EA Sports’ NCAA Football ’14, like its predecessors, is able to run a complete simulation of an entire season based on statistics and is remarkably good at predicting how a fair amount of a given CFB season will pan out. Bleacher Report did one of these last week and posted about the results yesterday:

    You might note some very interesting info about our friend Tommy there.

    • NDtex

      Don’t forget ours!

      I am currently running it right now and it will be done on Friday. Let’s just say…uh…mine is quite different from Adam’s so far.

      • Lisa

        Can’t wait, Tex!

  • trey

    Grantland-X stole Lisa’s login credentials to this site, I see.

    • Lisa


  • Josh

    Tommy wins against lesser teams. Can’t win against the elite when doing mostly pre-snap reads. Should be able to go to hurry up offense with better results.

  • NDtex

    Thanks for dropping by Oscar!

    I think the biggest issue/fear that remains for most Irish fans (and I’ll be honest, myself included) is the simply awful 2011 campaign. Tommy had a serious regression that season and never seemed to recover the same magic of his freshman campaign.

    I think I best summed it up in a post before the 2012 season:

    I don’t doubt Tommy’s football intelligence or leadership. I think he is a damned smart player. What scares me is that his reactions and instincts completely failed him in 2011.

    In 2012, he looked like he got some of that back with many an assist from Tyler Eifert, but still, the natural reaction of “I know that guy will make a play if I put it here” worked.

    So I’m hopeful, yet fearful. 2011 still burns in my mind, but there are many reasons that Tommy can succeed. I just hope that’s what we see in 2013.

  • Gary

    It will be only a matter of time for Rees to start his turnovers.

  • David Knight

    I don’t think anyone doubts that he is capable, however, he has and still locks on receivers…Eifert and Floyd. That cerebral aspect of the game seems to avoid him. It is also possible that the speed of the game negates his technical, student of the game prowess. I personally want him to succeed. However he helped out Everett, when he plaayed against BYU, he looked not so good. I mean, that was his moment to shine and he did not. It’s all good though. If he looks and great, I would be the first in line to congratulate him.

  • kevhurls

    Hold-on a sec, O-man. (author Oscar McBride) I realize this is off-topic, but it really isn’t. It’s more of a subtle topic. DOES ANYONE THINK A FORMER FOOTBALL STAR (as McBride is) AT ANY OF OUR COMPETITION COULD WRITE SUCH A COGENT POINT? We’ve all heard the expression “man-up,” right? Notre Dame acan-and-must PRIDE-UP!

    • The Ghost of Paul Failla

      Not only did he make a cogent point, he threw in some Gaelic at the end. O knows no bounds! Good stuff.

  • meowmix

    What the hell? Did YOU watch the michigan game? Except for the pass to Eifert, that was one of the worst games I’ve ever watched. And boy, Rees definitely tore it up in that BYU game too.

  • Chip Rozzi

    Oscar well said…may I add his name is TOUCHDOWN TOMMY because he is a winner and he will show us that come Aug. 31, 2013. Chip

  • JDriveSthND

    I like your optimism, and I believe Tommy will be much better than most people and much better than he was as a sophomore. All that said, he can’t have 20 turnovers this upcoming season. Even if all his other numbers improve, if he repeats his turnover woes from 2 years ago we will struggle to win games. I still have nightmares about that game ending INT in the end zone against FSU in the Champs Sports Bowl. He had the game in his hands and he threw it away in spite of the fact he had plenty of time left on the clock. He made the very same mistake in his first game of extended action against Tulsa in 2010. The one against Tulsa could be attributed to Freshman jitters and youthful inexperience. The one against FSU showed a startling lack of judgement, and also a lack of growth in the area of ball protection over the course of his full season as a starter.

    130 attempts without a pick is good, but with his arm strength and mobility much less than one of his predecessors, Brady Quinn, Tommy would do well to try and match Quinn’s longest INT free streak of 226 attempts – nearly eight consecutive games without a pick. With his knowledge of football in general and the ND offense in particular, the miscommunications that led to interceptions in 2011 should not be happening in 2013. One specific area where I hope he can improve a bit is speed of ball delivery. He will never have a rifle arm, but as he has grown stronger at ND I’m hoping his ball has gotten a little more zip on it. The reason I say this is that some of Tommy’s turnovers in the past have come because he got rid of the ball so quickly that the play either didn’t have time to develop or didn’t develop the way he thought it would, resulting in an interception. If he can give himself a little more time to let the play develop because he can get the ball to the receiver a little quicker, hopefully he’ll be able to cut down on turnovers that way.