Know Thyself Know Thy Enemy: Quarterback

So remember last year, when I thought I was being all smart and super-insightful with this article? Yeah, that was funny.

But this year, Golson is gone, Hendrix seemingly never competed for the starting job, and there is no way Zaire is getting thrown to the wolves as a true freshman. So I’m really left with only one choice: Tommy Rees, the most accurate passer in Notre Dame history.

Irish Player to Watch

Tommy Rees, Senior
6’1.5″, 215 lbs.

Yes, I can’t believe it either, but it’s true. The only QBs to eclipse Tommy Rees’ 63.6% rate were all backups with less than 50 attempts. And no, Tommy’s brief appearances in 2012 didn’t help boost those numbers either; in fact, it was his worst season accuracy-wise at 57.6% (and his only start was an awful 43.8%).

His best season for accuracy? 2011 (65.5%) — the same season that still gives Irish fans nightmares and still puts us on edge when we see him under center today.

Of course, throwing 14 INTs in 2011 didn’t help and his 20 TDs didn’t exactly help create a great TD:INT ratio.

But digging into Rees’ numbers even further creates an even more confusing picture. Rees has only had two games in which he threw for over 300 yards…and he lost both of them. Not only that, they are two nightmare losses: Tulsa (2010) and Michigan (2011). In those two games, Rees threw 4 and 3 TDs respectively (he only threw 3 or more TDs in three other games, all were wins — his yardage in those games: 129, 254, and 261). Of course, in those same two losses, he threw 3 and 2 INTs respectively.

Although Notre Dame has been able to win despite some of Tommy’s more turnover prone games (2010 against USC is a great example), Rees’ splits do drive home the fact that INTs are indeed his issue:

Result Comp Att Pct Yards Yards/Comp TD Int Rating
Win 268 421 63.7 2976 11.1 24 12 136.1
Loss 135 213 63.4 1437 10.6 10 12 124.3

The TD/INT ratio is really the only difference in the splits, and it’s drastic, going from 2 in wins to 0.83 in losses. Beyond that, Rees’ stats are remarkably similar and consistent.

For the most part, it has seemed that Rees was more capable of losing games rather than winning them. However, in 2012, particularly against Purdue and Stanford, he led the Irish in key late drives to help secure victories (even if they included some lobbed up prayers).

Rees has shown some talent, but his issue is when he forces passes by, more often than not, getting tunnel vision on his primary target. If Rees can limit those kind of mistakes, I believe he has what it takes to lead the Irish to a very successful season, especially considering the impressive stable of running backs that will be a large part of this year’s offense.

Enemy Player to Watch

Kevin Hogan, Stanford, Junior
6’4″, 220 lbs.

Unlike season’s past, Notre Dame doesn’t really face a list of well-established QBs in 2013. Opposing QBs this season are either new, unproven starters, or returning starters leading awful offenses.

Kevin Hogan, however, is an exception, but make no mistake, he isn’t making this list by default.

Hogan took over the starting job from a struggling Josh Nunes near the end of the 2012 season. His first real action was against Colorado where he came in after the first two series went nowhere. He led the Cardinal to victory in that game and his next starts which included the Pac 12 Title Game and a Rose Bowl victory over Wisconsin.

Hogan won’t light up the stat sheet; in fact, he has only thrown for over 200 yards twice thus far. He is, however, incredibly accurate boasting a completion percentage of 71.7%. He also has a very nice TD/INT ratio of 3 (9 TDs, 3 INTs). To add, he also has a decent amount of mobility, racking up 263 yards on 55 carries.

With Stanford’s rushing attack, Hogan is exactly what Stanford needs: a solid game manager that makes very few mistakes. In fact, if Rees has the kind of season that Hogan did at the end of 2012, I would be over the moon.

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  • trey

    Mmm..SSS..yeah im not so sure of that. Right now. Hogan’s been missing a lot of big games lately and im not sure he’s the kind of QB we want for ‘Best ND opponent QB.’ Also, he’s been having a little trouble with his TPS reports.

    IMO, Wittek has enough game experience and a freaky talented WR that will allow him to be very scary come Rivalry Week.

    • NDtex

      I’m completely confused by the first part of your comment.

      As far as Wittek, I don’t even know if he will be the starter because Kiffin is doing Kiffin things right now and saying both his QBs will play.

    • Mark (@stogiesnbeer)

      I wouldn’t say he’s been missing them, Trey.

      • trey

        See, Tex? Mark got it!

        • NDtex

          I got that it was an Office Space reference, I’m just lost on the connection.

          • trey

            I felt like you were knighting him solely because he stepped in the room, challenged your current beliefs in QB quality with his ‘f** it’ attitude and you ran with it. I’ve seen literally nothing from Hogan that makes me feel he is the best QB we’ll face. Wittek, yes. Gardner, yes.

          • NDtex

            I’m not sure what you’ve seen from Wittek that makes you think he’ll be that much of threat. There is a decent chance he might not even be USC’s starter for the entire season.

            Gardner is a wildcard. We haven’t truly seen the “real” Michigan offense so I have no idea what to expect.

            I’m taking the safer bet in Hogan for this analysis. I know what I’m getting and I know what kind of offense Stanford runs. If they don’t have a QB worth a damn, they turn completely one-dimensional. Hogan has been able to provide that passing threat to keep defenses honest (and has done it with very little receiving corps talent as well).

          • trey

            You might be right, man. It’s your post so definitely make your point. I feel like most of what Stanford does is predicated on their power running game and OL, not really the QB.

  • Bayou Irish

    The way I feel about this season is that Tommy Solo and Reeso walk to the booth of the cantina and sit down. Tommy Solo is good Tommy. Touchdown Tommy. Reeso is Turnover Tommy. They both pull their blasters. The question as to who shoots first matters not to me. The question I need answered is who survives?