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  • Irish Wake Up in Second Half

    by John Vannie

    Notre Dame scored on its first two possessions of the second half to erase a 17-10 deficit, and the Irish defense slammed the door on Wake Forest in a 24-17 road victory. The running duo of Jonas Gray and Cierre Wood combined for 180 yards to lead the way, and Tommy Rees threw a pair of touchdown passes. The Demon Deacons had a few chances to score in the second half, but Notre Dame rose to the occasion with a forced fumble and a key sack on a first and goal play.

    The Irish were lethargic at the outset and quickly fell behind by 10-3 just eleven minutes into the contest. A penalty against Wake Forest on a kickoff return by Notre Dame moved the ball to midfield, and the visitors needed only two plays to tie the score as Rees connected with a wide open Tyler Eifert from 38 yards. The game appeared to be on the verge of becoming a shootout, but both defenses began to assert themselves until late in the second quarter.

    The Deacons went on an 81-yard march as the half drew to a close. A pass interference penalty near the goal line set up a short run by Josh Harris for the go-ahead score. Notre Dame’s defense was thinned by injuries to Manti Te’o and Aaron Lynch during this stretch, although Lynch returned to action after intermission.

    Notre Dame took the opening kickoff in the third period and marched 62 yards to tie the game at 17. Jonas Gray’s 26 yard burst around left end moved the ball inside the one yard line, and Gray walked in untouched two plays later. After a quick three and out by Wake Forest, Rees followed a 27 yard run by Wood with a perfectly thrown corner route to Michael Floyd for a 16 yard touchdown at the 9:04 mark.

    When the Deacons were immediately forced to punt once again by the resurgent Irish, it looked as though the game could turn into a blowout. Notre Dame found itself in good field position and quickly crossed into enemy territory. Unfortunately, Coach Brian Kelly elected to reach into his bag of tricks at this point, and a flea flicker pass by Rees fluttered into the hands of safety Josh Bush. The senior returned the ball to the Notre Dame 39, and a questionable late hit penalty at the end of the play put the ball fifteen yards closer to the Irish goal. A pass by Tanner Price moved the ball inside the ten, but Darius Fleming forced a fumble two plays later and Gary Gray recovered for Notre Dame.

    Wake Forest had another chance to score as the third period drew to a close, but a promising opportunity was killed when Lynch drew a holding penalty and Prince Shembo sacked Price two plays later. The Irish got the ball back on their own three, and could not put together a drive that would lengthen their lead. The last gasp for the Deacons reached the Notre Dame nine yard line midway through the fourth quarter. This time it was Stephon Tuitt who crashed through to sack Price for a 12 yard loss, and the series ended with a missed 42 yard field goal attempt.

    Wood and Gray ran out the last five minutes of the game and Notre Dame moved to 6-3 on the season with the win. It was far from an impressive performance for the offense, but a no-frills rushing attack spelled the difference in the second half. Defensively, the Irish front line dominated so that Price could not repeat the success he enjoyed earlier in the game, and they came up with big plays down the stretch with the outcome in the balance.

    Let’s look at the answers to the pregame questions:

    Which young quarterback will be the most efficient and protect the ball? Price was 17 of 24 for 170 yards and did not turn the ball over despite good pressure. He also ran for a couple of first downs at critical points in the first half. Rees threw a pair of touchdown passes but his poor decisions resulted in two interceptions.

    Can the Deacons establish a credible running game against Notre Dame? Only in the early going, but Notre Dame adjusted and shut them down.

    Will the Irish stick to the running game from start to finish? Yes, and it was decisive.

    Will Riddick and T.J. Jones make meaningful contributions if called upon? The Deacons tried to lock down Floyd, and both Riddick and Jones did not take full advantage. Either they are not getting open or Rees simply cannot find them. Fortunately, Tyler Eifert and Floyd made enough plays to carry the passing game.

    Can Notre Dame’s special teams generate points? The Irish had a couple of solid kickoff returns but surrendered 59-yarder to set up a Deacon field goal. David Ruffer did drill a 44 yard field goal, which was good to see.

    Will the Irish be sufficiently focused to take on a highly motivated if undermanned opponent? It didn’t seem so at first. Fortunately, they warmed up to the task until Kelly killed their momentum with the flea flicker and forced the defense to hold on through some anxious moments.

    Will this game be decided early so I can watch LSU-Alabama? Unfortunately not, but the Tigers and Tide had the good grace to go into overtime. An added bonus was getting to watch the end of the Kansas State-Okie State shootout.

    Notre Dame will return to the East Coast next week for its second of three consecutive dates with an ACC opponent. One may soon start to wonder if this stretch of games is really some sort of conference audition. Whether that is the case or not, Irish fans can only hope that the team will improve upon what was decidely a lukewarm performance against a very average foe.


    66 Responses to “Irish Wake Up in Second Half”

    1. martinjordan says:

      At least they didn’t throw that ridiculous backward pass.

    2. If Rees makes an accurate throw on the flea flicker it is 7. Floyd was wide open.

      • That’s the point. Rees is the most inaccurate, 60-percent completion percentage passer I’ve ever seen. His wide receivers are constantly bailing him out by making great catches on his errant throws, oftentimes exposing them to massive hits by the opponents’ DB’s in the process. He even has a hard time completing 10-yard swing passes or quick hitches. And rarely does he hit a receiver in stride, where the receiver has the opportunity to make some yards after the catch. I hope you are enjoying these wins over Air Force, Navy and Wake Forest, and probably over two more of the ACC’s lesser teams (Maryland and Boston College), because there is no way the Irish are beating Stanford with Rees at the helm. As long as he his the QB, ND will never be more than an 8-4 with invites to the Sun and/or Champs Sports bowls.

      • martinjordan says:

        Why run the flea-flicker to begin with? We were pounding them. Why not continue? Even if we don’t score we’re slowly demoralizing them. We can always punt and pin them deep. Instead there was a major momentum shift. Haven’t we seen enough of those major momentum shifts this year.

        • Jim Prisby says:

          I didn’t have a problem with the flea-flicker. I had a problem with the chosen receiver! We all know that every team is going to double team Floyd on every play. They’ve been told to never leave his side. He should have been an underneith decoy on that play and Jones or Riddick should have been sent deep. Then that play would have been wide open.

          • Floyd was wide open. It was a bad pass by Rees.

          • martinjordan says:

            Gadget plays are for the first quarter or out of desparation in the fourth quarter. I didn’t have a problem with Goodman – the former QB – running the reverse pass in the first quarter but not when you’re in the process of imposing your will on the other team it didn’t make sense.

        • Was able to attend the game and was seated near that endzone on the flea flicker. I had no problem with the call – draw the linebackers in with the handoff.

          All Rees had to do was hit Floyd or even underthrow it by 5 yards as he was wide open. Instead he overthrew it by 5-10 yards.

          Hindsight is 20/20. Run effectively and it should open your receiver up for a big gain. he just missed him.

      • olwhatshisface says:

        If my aunt had balls, she’d be my uncle. It was a bad decision by Kelly. ND was exerting control via the run and a controlled passing game. But he couldn’t help himself, and had to go for broke. His ‘gambler’ mentality nearly cost the Irish the game. It is these kinds of repeated bad decisions that show Kelly’s not ready for the big stage.

      • I was at the game, Floyd was most certainly not open. He stopped on his route because he was double covered. Theo crossing the middle was open by about 10 yards.

    3. I’m troubled by Kelly’s bizarre response about his passing game:

      Q: You had some deficiencies in the passing game. Was it something that Wake Forest did or were guys just missing opportunities?

      Kelly: Is there a negative to everything? We just won a football game on the road. I mean what kind of question is that? What do we want me to say? What’s the answer? We won 24 to 17 against a good football team, and you want to know what’s wrong with the passing game. You know what’s wrong with it? The coach doesn’t call good plays. How’s that? There’s nothing wrong with it. We’re fine. We just won a good game.

      Ugh. *That* response to such a benign, fact-based, non-snarky question? Kelly can’t seem to handle the pressure, and that’s a serious problem because — guess what — coaching at ND has a little pressure.

      The snarky way of asking that question would be: “When Floyd is covered, why can’t you find out what to do with your other WRs after watching a football game for nearly 4 hours?” And if Kelly is going to respond like he did to a politely-phrased question, perhaps our reporters should go the snarky route anyways.

      • Disagree. Loved his response. If you watched the entire press conference, you would of seen that it was like the 8th consecutive negative question by the press. Kelly had enough and stuck up for his team and players.

        Love it. Want more of it.

        • I also disagree. It seems that there is a firm contingent of ND fans who believe that ND should win every game by at least 30 (average day) to 50 (expected) points. Not only should they dominate every opponent, every single play should be executed flawlessly. Look- I’m not a Tommy apologist, I think he played his 2nd worst game of the season last night, but our boys got the win and Kelly is still getting pressed about how crappy his players looked. To echo Mark’s sentiments: its Kelly’s fire that keeps us in these tough games and comes back home with a W.

    4. It is just hard to believe that Tommy Rees is the best quarterback ND can put on the field. Weak/average arm, poor decision-making. It seems like Kelly is living off memories of last year, when Rees seemed to manage games better. Last year he didn’t seem to make so many bad reads or bad plays in general. This year’s team has way too many offensive weapons to be trusting delivery of the ball to them by such an average (at best) quarterback. He may be a terrific young man and have a terrific presence in interviews, but ND needs a better quarterback on the field.

      • Jim Prisby says:

        I don’t see how Rees is the starter next year with the talent on the roster. That said, we should really being getting someone like Hendrixs more playing time, and yet he hasn’t taken a snap for two straight games. This will come back to bite us next year. We can’t just wait for a blow out game to see how he does against back ups.

    5. Rees cannot throw an accurate deep ball. He just throws it out there and hopes for the best.

    6. Where was Hendricks. He needs to be developed. I don’t see Rees taking this team to the next level. He’s a tough kid, but he’s earning the name Tommy Turnover. I’m really disappointed in Riddick. He was billed as a play maker and athletic like Golden Tate, but continues to be average at best. I try not to think about next year without Floyd.

    7. I find myself extremely bewildered by the final pregame question.
      While I’m not enough of a fanatic to create a blog, I’m certainly not interested in watching anyone else while the Irish are playing. If a game happens to be one-sided, I’m interested in seeing the backups, the assumed future of the program, and getting a glimpse into how the staff interacts with them in various situations.

      What a bizarre question to publish. If you’re thinking it, fine. If you’re going to record a game and watch it later, fine. But to imply that you hope it’s over early so you can watch something else – wow. Then again, it’s your blog & you can write what you want.

      • John Vannie says:

        Obviously you are challenged when it comes to having a sense of humor. I suspect you have a double digit IQ as well, although it may be my fault that I did not dumb the article down sufficiently to meet with your tastes. Let me share a secret – I often throw in a non-serious question, and most people get it. I’m also a fan of good football that is played at a high level, and we’re not seeing that from the Irish lately.

      • I think you’re reading it entirely the wrong way.

        His point was more ‘Will the irish put this away early as they should’?

        Don’t get so uptight…

    8. When Rees throws the deep ball, it’s as effective as a punt. Ironic, because he punted yesterday.

      • JVan no need to reply to that comment, if one doesn’t get your humor then they haven’t been reading your posts. I went out so I could watch the Irish and also catch pieces of the LSU/Bama game. I’m going to the Stanford game, I may be crazy, or just oblivious to reality, but I’m hoping the team plays their best game of the year and the game goes down to the wire.

      • Hey, Felipe!

        Your post got me to thinking. Rees punted with about 10:35 left in the quarter. Just about that time, I refreshed the Game Day page on my iPhone to catch (pun intended) a comment from JClarke who posted that “Kelly is a Maron.” At first, I discounted that comment for what I thought was an obvious reason. (Let’s face it, Game Day posts during the game can be: 1) Very entertaining; 2) At times, enlightening; 3) A skewed, but interesting, measure of ND fan sentiment, or; 4) Drunken babble. Whatever the case, these posts add another fun dimension to the game for me.)

        But then I got to thinking: “Maybe JClarke has something here that I just don’t understand.” So, I Googled “Maron” and was surprised to learn that Maron, aka Maroun, was a sainted 5th century monk who spent all of his life on a mountain in Syria. Evidently, his lifestyle attracted a number of like-minded zealots who became known as “Maronites” who founded the Maronite Church, an Eastern branch of the Catholic Church. St. Maron was known for his missionary work, healing and, of course, miracles! According to Wikipedia, he “lived his life in open air exposed to the forces of nature . . .” (Kind of like Coach Kelly on game day, huh?!)

        After reading all this, with about 8 minutes left in the quarter last night, I was overwhelmed with my new knowledge and vowed to never again cast immediate judgement (see #4 above) about the author of a Game Day post. It became obvious to me that JClarke somehow knows that Coach Kelly is a Maronite, and a true follower of St. Maron.

        At this time, I am using this forum to apologize to JClarke for my rush to judgement. And, thank you, Felipe, for your post which served as my inspiration to write today.

      • It was a horrible punt too.

    9. When is Kelly going to realize that the three best quarterbacks are on the bench. Rees is not getting better. His long throws look like heaves from a centerfielder. he has no arm strength at all and his throws into coverage are ridiculous. Hendrix and Crist would be putting a lot more points on the board; but props to Cierre and Jonas.

    10. Floyd was open, along with Riddick I think. Poorly executed by Rees. Stanford ran a similar play against USC last week late in the game that resulted in a big gainer. Obviously Reese is no Andrew Luck. Maybe thats the problem. Kelly’s calling plays that his QB can’t execute.

    11. 1. Rees is not a good passer. Period. With Quinn or Clausen back there, ND is 8-1. My only hope is that he pulls a Rockne and spends all summer on the beach throwing the ball.
      2. Kelly needs to recognize Tommy’s limitations. I liked the flea-flicker call, but not then: as has been noted here, the run game was crushing the life out of Wake, and when Kelly went to it at the end of the game, the ground game kept Wake’s O off the field. This is a game ND could have easily lost even though they were clearly the better team. Kelly makes me nervous.
      3. Thank God for no backward passes or goal-line fumbles. Jesus.
      4. Vannie, I got your joke question and I suspect most other readers did as well. CMH, relax and enjoy 🙂

    12. Jim Prisby says:

      Does anyone even rememebr why we were excited by Kelly’s hire? It was partially because of the O he ran at Cincinnati. It was open, creative, fast paced, etc. It was more reflective of the O run by Oregon. Where the bleep is it?! He clearly has unbelievable talent on this team Is this five or six straight games without giving up a sack? Yet, when I watch these games I am stunned by the limited playbook we run. Very little motion or mis-direction. Very few unique formations. Let’s face it; bland.

      To me this is all a result of his quarterback abilities. If the QB can’t run with the ball it severly limits Kelly’s playbook, which is what baffles me with Kelly’s decision to stick with Rees. Don’t tell me that he has a better grasp of this bland offense, or that Rees can read defenses better to the tune of two more bad interceptions, one of which was because he didn’t see that it was cover 3. (BTW, after 14 games as a starter, he was fooled by cover 3? Does anyone think that Hendrix, a pre-med major, couldn’t at least be at the same stage of development after 14 games?) Who cares what Rees’s record is as a starter? You could say that our talent level has won a few of those games despite Tommy.

      We must get Hendrix in for meaningful minutes before this season is over. It is critical to the success of next year against a brutal schedule. Kelly is worried about his reading defenses? With this o-line, talented running backs and his ability to run, we can run spread and simply RUN! It certainly gives oppoents something more to plan for since it basically doubles the playbook you can run. Also, are we worried about Hendrix reading defenses? Really? If you have him throwing safe out patterns, with a strong arm, or bubble screens, or deep jump balls (see Rees’s deep pathetic balls) then what is the issue? This kid need to play. He needs time to learn to read defenses. If he has ‘a higher talent ceiling’ then we need to get this kid on the field so that we ca score more than 24 points against weak defenses. Period.

    13. Went to the game last night. Pretty happy to see that we pulled it out. I just want to throw my two cents in about Rees. He is an impressive young man – good in press conferences, he’s tough (from goat to almost hero in the Michigan game) and a winner (4-0 as a frosh). Really a great representation of the university as a student athlete. He’s an adequate D-I quarterback. But the truth is, ND’s offense has to be explosive for us to imagine that we will contend for a national title under Kelly. And I think Rees is pretty much as good as he is going to be.

      I was surprised to see his lack of arm strength in person. I also was surprised to see that this great “game manager” almost NEVER checked down to his second or third options. Go back and watch the gametape. His receivers absolutely bailed him out on some throws that he had no business making. But he doesn’t seem comfortable enough to scan the field and pick out the best receiving option.

      He locks onto option number 1 and almost always throws it – double coverage be damned. The most glaring example of this was the flea flicker throw to Floyd. HORRIBLE decision. Wake’s defense did not bite on that play at all. Two guys had Floyd from the beginning. Rees should have dumped the ball underneath – but he threw it up anyways.

      Rees is the Matt Lovecchio of this era. Smart, good, tough kid. But doesn’t really have the measurables to win a game a la Matt Barkley, Andrew Luck, etc. With him under center we’re good for 8 or 9 wins per year. I’d rather roll the dice with Hendrix or the kid out of Myrtle Beach and see if they can lead the offense to the next level.

      • I have a feeling part of the reason we haven’t seen Hendrix in the last few games has something to do with the “conflict” the team had before the Navy game. Crist is a popular player and I think Kelly recognizes that not jumping over him as the backup is important for unity in the locker room. I thought it was telling that Crist saw action during the Navy game after Kelly seemed to previously indicate he might be done as the number two.

        In regards to Rees, it seems as though you’re absolutely right, he’s hit his ceiling. Truthfully, I think Kelly is doing about all he can in the situation he’s got. If only he could Frankenstein a quarterback together…

    14. Not pretty but it’s a win. Next 2 games must be absolute blowouts by the Irish. No excuses.
      Very happy for Mike Golic Jr. and I am sure Dad is very proud.
      Anyone notice that Jonas started over Ciere?
      Can anyone figure out Kelly’s playcalling?
      Can anyone see the talent disparity between the Irish and LSU/Bama and how far ND really is from a top tier BCS team?

    15. Scranton Dave says:

      It took a while, but you guys have finally come around to what I have known all along about Rees. Like an earlier poster said, they won games last year ( especially the USC game) in spite of him, not because of him. Kelly needs to check his ego ( I believe his ego is the only reason Rees is still in there) and either put Crist back in, or go with Hendrix the rest of the year. With Crist, they have a chance to beat Stanford, with Rees, they have no chance.

      As far as Vannie, I got the joke and I liked it. I think he does a great job with these blogs. Keep up the good work buddy!

    16. Scranton Dave says:

      I just want to say again that I think it was an awful decision by Kelly to pull Crist after one half. I thought Kelly was the guy, but that decision makes me think maybe he is not. He shouldve pulled Rees at halftime of the Pitt game, but his ego wouldnt let him. With Rees at QB, I cant even get excited about watching the games.

    17. Joe Schaefer SJHS'55 ND'59 says:

      Looks like verybody caught the mistaken call of the “flea flicker”. I guess that was one of Kelly’s “get used to it” calls.

      ND has to dump the Big East refs. They made two really bad calls: the uncatchable pass intereference call and the personal foul call. Let the visitors bring their refs and ND use the host team refs. That’s a helluva note, even applies to the Pac 12.

      I am not sure whether ND is still paying off Davie and Willingham. Or, whether there is a different deal with Kelly. He has no class. Not Notre Dame material. He reminds me of some of my shanty Irish relatives.

    18. Brian Kelly has done some good things. We are a better team — and we definitely have progressed greatly (though not consistently) on defense and in our line play — but we are far from an excellent team. The team has regressed in several ways from last year (more penalties and more turnovers, to name two). We underperform at key times (like the 1st quarter of the USC game). Overall, Kelly is no more than a mediocre coach who says and does too many dumb things, and he is in over his head trying to do the job at ND.

      He’s been outcoached this year by Skip Holtz, Brady Hoke, Todd Graham (who also outcoached Kelly last year), Lane Kiffen, and now UVA reject Jim Grohe. (And although Navy’s Ken Niumatalolo didn’t outcoach Kelly this year, he did last year).

      The same things about being “mediocre”, doing “dumb things” and “in over his head” apply to Tommy Rees as well. And, like Kelly’s team as a whole, Rees has regressed in certain ways from last year, too. What only applies to Kelly however, and not to Rees, is that only Kelly says dumb things, and Kelly routinely exhibits a colossal ego for which there is no basis. Rees’ ego is limited to thinking he can throw the ball better than he actually can, and for that misconception, I mostly fault his coach (like when Kelly told the freshman replacing Crist to throw the ball in the endzone against Tulsa, for the sake of Kelly’s ego).

      And for the record, Kelly’s explosive offense at Cincy was run by an offensive coordinator who did not follow Kelly to ND.

    19. Chalk this win up to the defense. Especially in the red zone, they really turned it on. I’ve been one of the guys defending Rees all along but I will admit it was a pretty inconsistent, crummy performance out of him and he really needs to step it up. Also just wanted to mention if the ACC has any hopes of courting the Irish they need to fix their officiating. Some terrible calls in this game. The personal foul was a joke. Right beside the so called foul a Wake guy was obviously blocking in the back. The touchdown that was overturned in the booth was perplexing. They also gave us a couple bad spots on the field too. Including that last 3rd and 1 you could see the ref put the ball down then scoot it back a couple inches. Not cool!

    20. Well another lame win, during the course of a weak schedule with the next 2 weeks even worse to have too watch, but ND is bowl eligible. Polls came out today what is this bowl squad ranked? I see Cinci is ranked, must be their players, talent or coaching? I can’t believe a major college football program like ND has dropped to this level. Jackie S. I watched a little SEC football last night, you don’t want to schedule those guys, they are just a bit quicker, faster, bigger, stronger and better coached. When you look for a conference to join for football stay very far away from that one, they will beat you up and hand you a 2 and 8 record every year. Although you will sweep those team’s in hockey!! Game over ND it will never be 1977(ESPN) or 1989(prop recruits Rice, Zorich, Light, Watters, Brooks a few good line backers or 3)) again, go play Big East football so that you can survive every year. You might even get ranked sometime and go to a BIg Boys Bowl.

    21. Was at the game, and in addition to Kelly’s playcalling, we were not happy with special teams play.Kickoff coverage was awful, and the guys rushing the punter just seem to be going through the motions.There is no real effort to go for a blocked punt. Odd, since we have no reurn game.However, a win is a win.

      • Jim Prisby says:

        Ed, thanks for bringing this up. Anyone know who coaches our un-special teams? I am no rocket scientist for punts but I think this are some pretty obvious corrections that just never get corrected. I can deal with the total lack of creativity but how about just common sense stuff? We never get a chance to return a punt. Why? It’s simple. If you don’t put pressure on the punter, and he can take his time getting the ball off, and can hold it for just that extra second, that leaves time for the gunners to get down field and force the fair catch. We never pressure the punter. We just go through the motions. In fact, when the other team punts from midfield, and you know we are either going to let the ball go, or faircatch inside the 20, why not send more guys and make that effort? What are we going to lose? There are things that can be done to cover a fake attempt and still send 7 guys and force the issue. Kelly must be satisfied with fair catches and that’s inexplicable to me. Does anyone else have some thoughts on this? What am I missing?

    22. First and foremost…Vannie I get and appreciate your humor as well. Keep it coming. ND defense looked asleep for the first half. Rees has proven that he is not capapable of the QB position. Look at the stats folks…he is responsible for most of the turnovers. May be a great kid, may be tough, but not cut out to QB this team. I too think we should be getting Hendrix some experience, and think the lack of play will hurt us next year. Agree 100% with previous posts stating his inability to read the field is killing us. He has made up his mind prior to the snap where he is throwing that ball; and regardless of coverage…he throws it!! He continually misses wide open recievers! Andrew Luck will make him look like a Jr. High player.

    23. Wow – a lot of negativity for a win!. Not an impressive one but, let’s face it, this is the kind of game the Irish have frequently lost over the past 5-6 years. You know – where their final possession is a feeble three-and-out, leaving the inferior opponent just enough time to win. The defense came up with two big stops and the running game ran five minutes off the clock to win – that’s an improvement. Two INTs and a fumble are cause to worry – Stanford won’t waste any gifts. A 52-yard punt was nice – it brought the average up to 40 yards, so the others were………
      Rees is clearly not an elite QB but I have to believe Kelly’s loyalty doesn’t extend to losing games so the staff must think Rees is the best bet. I would like to see more of Hendrix.

    24. ryan baker says:

      Brian Kelly’s QB decision to start the year (reminds me of Weiss picking D. Jones) has come back to haunt us. The team lacks chemistry. Personally, I think Crist has more upside and would have had more production under center. We’ll never know why a guy who wins the starting job is relieved of his duties after only two quarters – which is tough to swallow.

    25. Domer Dog says:

      TR may be a great kid, but I think Kelly has some mad man love for him, because he just doesn’t have the arm. The only thing he has is the mental make-up to get over mistakes, and its a good thing, because he has had a lot of them. I still don’t understand the Hendrix situation. He plays him against AFA to get him some experience to offer a change of pace against USC (too much gamemanship, if he wasn’t planning on playing him thereafter…maybe that why we looked like crap…too much playing around and not enough focusing on core strengths), and Hendrix, at least to me looked good. Kelly came out, said he was much improved in practice and looked good, and after his 2 por 3 plays against USC, he disappeared. I wonder if deep inside he views Crist and Hendrix as Weis’ guys and Rees as one of his guys. Hard to fathom otherwise. We saw Crist do some bad things last year, but also have some great moments. I still think he would have been the guy, but I don’t think he received the support from this staff.

    26. irishhawk50 says:

      To paraphrase Kelly, you would think ND lost the game last night to read half of the posters here. I know Rees is not Joe Montana, but he is not the prime reason ND lost the three games this year. I am also quite sure that if Kelly felt there was another quarterback that could do better he would be playing him. I am not saying Kelly is the best coach in college football, but he is the best since Lou. I also think there is merit in his call for ND to get the RKG’s. I think there has been an institutionalized problem with the mind set of ND players for at least the last decade. I think at this point the team is a top 25 team, but I agree with some of the other posters they are not in the league with the LSU’s and Alabama’s. My position at this point in time is that the kool-aid glass is half full.

    27. VADomer02 says:

      “questionable late hit penalty”…there’s no question about it, that was a downright terrible call.

      • Yes, indeed, sir. This call and the “uncatchable ball” pass interference penalty as well. There was a block in the back on the bad call on Martin on that play that went “unnoticed”. Terrible officiating to say the least. However, they got the W. Time to move on, I reckon.

    28. Is it just me, or is the entire ND nation just super impatient with Rees. He’s started in about one season of games now and the most qualified to win RIGHT NOW. We should’ve gotten Hendrix in for the Navy game, but most of these games are close enough that you can’t get him game experience yet. No coach is going to put the game at risk just to get Hendrix some extra playing time. He probably won’t start next year, but definitely should be starting now.

    29. Scranton Dave says:

      Ryan- no Rees isn’t the best to win now, Crist is. I can’t believe anyone would still defend Rees.

    30. Has Rees struggled at times? Yes. Could he stand to add to his arm strength and the accuracy of some of his throws? Yes. But you can’t argue with the fact that for a sophmore he gets the job done. He’s 10-2 as a starter and who could pin the Michigan loss on him when he led a game winning drove with 30 seconds left? To be honest Crist only started 1 game this year and probably lost us 2! Against USF he looked like a deer in headlights. And has everyone forgotten already he dropped a simple snap at the 1 when we were about to tie it up with USC after a great drive Tommy led us on? The Wake game along with Pitt were 2 of his weaker performances this year but it gets old seeing everyone try to blame all of ND’s woes on this underclassman who just happens to be 10-2 as a starter. What were Quinn of Clausen’s win-loss records at this point on their career? Way worse. I’m sorry but Crist has had his chances and yes he had a few good games last year and yes, he’s probably reliable enough as 2nd string, but he also got injured like nobody’s business and was the starter of that terrible, inexcusable performance against Navy where he also couldn’t get the ball in from the 1 yard line.

    31. Paul James Cappelli says:

      Fitz – i appreciate your feedback on this matter, however, your points were not well thought out. I’m not saying Crist is the answer, but neither is Rees. Please reconsider your comments about Rees and agree with me that he is not the answer. Please provide more research and stats to back up these claims. Go Irish!

      • First of all I never said Rees is “the answer.” I merely said that people are too hard on him and blame him for everything that goes wrong on the field. Yes, he makes mistakes like any sophomore will, and yes, he could add to his arm strength, but his successful career record shows that he must be doing something right. I think it’s quite likely Golson and/or Hendrix may start in years to come but I’m talking about This year, right now. Hendrix and Golson don’t have the game day experience to start right now. And don’t get me started again about Crist. He’s the Golden Calf of Notre Dame quarterbacks if I’ve ever seen one. So who does that leave us with for the mean time?

        Second of all, who are you my high school English teacher? Who are you to tell me my points are not well thought out and I need to provide more evidence. Maybe you should play out your own thoughts more as you made Zero points, nota, zilch, except to claim “Rees is not the answer.”

    32. Of the teams on the field the worst was the refs. That third quarter was rife with bad calls followed by make up calls for the other team. Most notably the pass interference on Floyd after Wake intercepted the unneeded flee flicker.
      Positives first. It is sad to see the d line weakened by injuries but I like our outlook for the next few years with all of the young players that are making plays. Good to see Gary Gray rebound from a bad start to this season. We need him to be playing at his best to compete with Stanford. Our ground game was great…everyone agrees.

      Negatives. I wish Tommy did not shoot himself in the foot all the time, but at least he can still run afterwards. Bad game for him, but after 1 season as a starting QB he is further along than Clausen and Quinn. Quinn’s summer in between soph and jr year is when he got the arm strength that he needed from workouts. I hope Tommy figures this out at the end of the season since you cannot put on that much arm strength when the season is in full swing. Please do not get me started on Crist. He had his chance this year and last, but still did not come through. Hendrix is the next in line, and I hope we take care of business against MD so we can get him up to speed.
      I do not have much hope for 8-3 which I held till the loss against USC. 8-4 looks more likely.
      Cheer, cheer for Ole Notre Dame

    33. As a disclaimer, I am not trying to flame this board, rather, I’d like to understand the arguments from those that I read each week at the bottom of these pages.

      Is there a coach that the comment section of this board would find acceptable to lead ND? I don’t fully understand the vitriol for Coach Kelly present in a number of posts after every game. Please, what coach is acceptable to lead our team? Also, would you be willing to give that coach a pass over a probably 8-4 campaign in his (or her) second year?

      It is a bit off topic, but I’m also curious why people are so up in arms over the mere idea of installing field turf instead of grass? If I am misunderstanding the plan, please tell me. I’m indifferent on the issue, but if a legitimate case can be made that a field turf field would help the program, I don’t understand the hostility based upon an idea. I haven’t done much of a study, but it seems from a cursory review of college gameday final highlights that many of the top programs are currently playing on field turf. (An admittedly weak study design / sample, yes) The question, I guess, Is what is the problem with field turf?

    34. they won because they came out and passed the ball on 1st down the two series they scored something they were not doing in the 1st half ecxept for the one pass the tight end that scored

      kelly has passed on 1st down starting the series alot this sason and that has opened up the opposing defences alowing runingbacks to get threw the line easier to gain more yards so its the the passing that is making the running backs to do there jobs easier just look how they strugled in the 1st half thats because the run the ball nearly every 1st down except the td pass to 80 annd the one on the last series before half thats why notre dame needs a coach that has the brains to know what works when he is calling the plays for the game if you can go back to every game when they strugle there runing the ball on 1st down to much

    35. Scranton Dave says:

      Rees is not further along than Clausen or Quinn, thats just absurd. Notre Dames skill talent, and especially OLIne is much better in 2011 then in 2008 ( Clausens soph year) or 2004 ( Quinns soph year). I’m so sick of hearing Rees record as a starter from all his apologists, then they go on to say you cant blame him for the Michigan game. If you want to use that, then I will say he shouldnt get credit for the USC game last year, or the Pitt and Wake games this year. I guess it’s Crists fault that the defense gave up all those points in the Michigan and Michigan St games last year.

      As far as the USF game this year, you really put it all on Crist? i guess he fumbled at the 1 on the first drive right? I guarantee the offense would be more productive with Crist than noddle armed Rees. I also would bet that if you gave Kelly a truth syrum, he would say he regrets giving up on Crist for Rees. I dont care if Rees is only a sophomore, he has no arm strength, foot speed. or upside, and he isnt even accurate. But hey, if you guys are satisfied with 8-4, then lets let Rees stay the starter for the rest of this year and the next 2 years.

      There is no excuse for Crists fumble in the USC game, but it is no worse than Rees fumble ( when nobody was near him) in the Michigan game. Before the fumble in the USC game, Crist was throwing lazers and they were accurate. The difference between Crists throws and Rees throws are like night and day. Problem is, the egomaniac Kelly recruited Rees and he didnt recruit Crist, and Kelly just last week gave us his feelings on the holdover players.

      • I don’t think Rees is further along than Quinn or Clausen, but a peak at their sophomore numbers shows that he’s not as far behind as some make him out to be. Yes the O line is better this year for him but let’s just be thankful for that as under Weis we had the worst O line in school history, so of course they’re better. I wouldn’t put the whole USF game on Crist, but I would put last years Navy game on him. And I’d say he shoulders a lot of the blame for his goal line debacle against USC. Furthermore Tommy’s not even as big as him but the kid can take some real hits and bounce back up. I think frankly he’s tougher than Crist. Physically and mentally. Crist has blown out both knees and has been injury prone his entire career. I don’t follow the logic that Rees deserves no credit for last years USC game and this years Pitt games when he led us on game winning drives in both of those games, in spite of them being 2 of his weaker performances. How many times did Montana or others lead us on last minute game winning drives? That’s been the hallmark of ND quarterbacks through all of history.

        Look I’m not saying Rees is even the long term answer. It may very well be that Golson or Hendrix are the future but in the here and now I’m sorry to say Crist has had his chances time and again and Rees is the best option for this year.

    36. Scranton Dave says:

      The last drive in the USC game last year was almost all Hughes. The defense bailed Rees out of several turnovers in Usc territory

    37. I will concede to you that the O line is excellent this year, but Crist is not the future. That is why I want to see Hendrix play next game. i look forward to your opinions Dave. They are from a point that I do not see too often, and sometimes I am blinded to.
      Cheer, cheer for Ole Notre Dame

    38. Scranton Dave says:

      I wont argue with someone wanting to see Hendrix, and no, Crist isnt the future. My contention is that Crist, while a disappointment compared to his 5 star hype out of high school, is still a better choice than Rees. I hate to keep bashing Rees because I’m sure the kid is doing the best he can, but he has little talent and no upside and cant do the things ( run or throw downfield) Kelly likes to do in his offense. Playing Rees only stunts the offenses development.