Sorry for the delay, loyal readers, but sometimes work gets in the way, even on Sundays. Work is what Tommy Rees did yesterday in the thin air of Colorado. In a critical win, 45-10, that preserved the Irish hopes for a BCS-berth for one more week, Notre Dame’s too-oft-maligned quarterback put up numbers that put him in some remarkable company.
Almost quietly, Tommy Rees has become Notre Dame’s third-most prolific touchdown passer, with fifty-four passing TD’s. He’s now in the company of only Brady Quinn (95) and Jimmy Clausen (60). His efficiency rating yesterday was his best and ND’s best since Jimmy Clausen’s performance agaist Nevada in 2009.
Rees spread the scores around to five different receivers, with Corey Robinson, Will Fuller, TJ Jones, Chris Brown, and Ben Koyack all seeing the love. Robinson’s grab was the first score for the Irish on the day and it came, critically, after Air Force blocked a Kyle Brindza field goal try and scored a touchdown on the ensuing possession. Robinson and Fuller’s scores were most impressive, though the deep ball to TJ was highlight material, as well. Though not a touchdown, Andrew Hendrix, who came in for Tommy late, hooked up deep to Fuller and ran in a score himself. Not hard to do, but Hendrix was much better than he was against USC.
Watching Air Force move the ball effectively, gashing huge runs around edges that needed sealing worse than an old pair of shoes in a rain storm, brought back horrible memories of Navy 2010. To the defense’s credit, though, the Irish responded and notched their second straight “perfect” second half, holding Air Force to 339 total yards and to zero points over the third and fourth quarters.
The defense, with Louis Nix back in the Bend rehabbing a knee injury, wore the Air Force players out over time and once the edges were sealed, stymied any attempt by the Falcons to make a game of it. Jaylon Smith stood out with 8 tackles, five solo. He was also robbed, to my eye, of a sixty-two yard fumble return for a touchdown. Initially, the refs ruled the play an incomplete, but awarded the fumble on the review. Tuitt, who shifted inside to replace Nix, notched one solo and four combined tackles on the day.
ND’s running game was nothing to write home about. GAIII fell too easily, leaving Tarean Folston, forty-seven yards on eleven carries, and Cam McDaniel, sixty-one yards on ten carries, to pick up the slack.
Anyway, a big win for the Irish that keeps the dream of a Sugar Bowl alive. Go Irish Go!