Tag:Tommy Rees
Posted on: October 22, 2011 10:53 pm
Edited on: October 22, 2011 11:50 pm
 

QUICK HITS: USC 31, Notre Dame 17

Posted by Bryan Fischer

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Notre Dame's first home night game since 1990 was supposed to be all about the Irish. New gold helmets, multiple five-star recruits on the sideline, even talk coming into the game about winning out and going to a BCS game.

USCheard all of the talk about the game and shrugged it off. Rivalry game? It was just another game to them. They were disrespected - first time in school history they were 5-1 and unranked in the polls on top of being a nine-point underdog - and were taking a business trip to the Midwest.

Behind a surprising rushing attack and the reliable duo of Matt Barkley and Robert Woods, the Trojans pulled off the upset 31-17 and stunned a capacity crowd of 80,795 at Notre Dame Stadium.

The Irish offense struggled most of the night. Despite allowing Tommy Rees to pick up a few big games on checkdowns and some open receivers in the middle of the field, the Trojans much-maligned secondary held Michael Floyd to just four catches and 28 yards. Outside of George Atkinson III's kickoff return for a touchdown right late in the second quarter, the offense was limited to just 10 points and well under 100 yards rushing.

USC had won eight in a row in the series before dropping (literally) one in the Coliseum last year. After establishing the tone early with their longest scoring drive of the season on USC's opening drive, oft-criticized Lane Kiffin picked up his first signature victory as head coach of the Trojans. Both Kiffin and athletic director Pat Haden, a former analyst for Notre Dame broadcasts, have discussed how wins and losses against the Irish are different from others the school might have.

Coming in the talk was all about the blue and gold. Coming out, thanks to Barkley, Woods and Kiffin, it was all about the cardinal and gold.

Posted on: October 18, 2011 11:32 am
 

Keys to the Game: Notre Dame vs. USC

Posted by Tom Fornelli

NOTRE DAME WILL WIN IF: See if you notice a trend here. In Notre Dame's two losses to start the season, it turned the ball over 10 times. In the four victories since, the Irish have turned the ball over 5 times, including none in the last two games. You think it's a coincidence that the Irish have won those games? I don't. In USC, the Irish will be facing a defense that has forced 10 turnovers on the season and is giving up 23.5 points per game, but gave up 43 points to Arizona State and 41 to Arizona. The Irish offense may be stronger than both of those teams, and as long as Tommy Rees can continue to take care of the football, the Irish should find plenty of success on offense and knock off their hated rivals.

USC WILL WIN IF: The Trojans offense has not been fantastic this season and it's facing a Notre Dame defense that, aside from a couple meaningless fourth quarter touchdowns by Air Force last week, has been very strong over the last month. Much like Notre Dame needs to do, Matt Barkley and the USC offense will have to take care of the ball and use a balanced attack to move the ball down the field and keep Notre Dame's offense off the field. Opposing quarterbacks have completed less than 60% of the passes against the Notre Dame defense, but that unit has also allowed 10 touchdowns through the air and 225 yards per game. So the opportunities will be there for Barkley and Robert Woods, they just need to take advantage of them.

X-FACTOR: Curtis McNeal. While nothing is official yet, after suffering a shoulder injury last weekend, USC's leading rusher Marc Tyler isn't expected to play in this game. Which means McNeal will take over the starting role. He's not as big as Tyler, and while Notre Dame's run defense has been very tough this season, it did give up over 6 yards per carry against Air Force last week. If McNeal can find that kind of room this week and give USC more balance on offense, then the Trojans just might leave South Bend with a victory. 
Posted on: October 8, 2011 7:30 pm
Edited on: October 8, 2011 7:30 pm
 

QUICK HITS: Notre Dame 59 Air Force 33

Posted by Tom Fornelli

NOTRE DAME WON. For the first time since a 57-7 victory over Stanford in 2003, the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame eclipsed 50 points in a game as the Golden Domers had a rather easy time with Air Force on Saturday afternoon. The Notre Dame offense scored 6 touchdowns on its 6 possessions in the first half, with six different players scoring the touchdowns. Tommy Rees finished the day with 261 yards and 4 touchdowns, and the Notre Dame offense played it's second consecutive game without committing a turnover.

WHY NOTRE DAME WON. Let's all just be happy that the Air Force has jets at its disposal when it's defending the country, because if it were solely up to the Falcons football defense, we'd be pretty vulnerable right now. Yes, Notre Dame's offense looked extremely efficient in this game, totalling 560 yards, but the Air Force defense didn't exactly do much to stop it either.

WHEN NOTRE DAME WON. When Cierre Wood's 8-yard touchdown run gave the Irish 5 touchdowns in its first five drives and expanded the Notre Dame lead to 35-9 it was pretty evident that Air Force wasn't going to be able to get back into this one.

WHAT NOTRE DAME WON. A lot of confidence on offense heading into the annual showdown with rival USC. The Notre Dame offense had been able to put yards on the board all year, but over the last two weeks, not only has Notre Dame picked up yards but it's also scored 97 points and hasn't turned the ball over a single time.

WHAT AIR FORCE LOST. A chance to be one of the many teams that has come into South Bend and upset the Irish the last few seasons. It's not a conference game, so this loss doesn't hurt Air Force in the Mountain West, but this still would have been a nice win for the Falcons.

THAT WAS CRAZY. Notre Dame rushed for 266 yards against Air Force on Saturday, but it's leading rusher was backup quarterback Andrew Hendrix. Yes, the sophomore saw his first action in a Notre Dame uniform on a few plays in the first three quarters, and he took over for Tommy Rees late. He ended the game with 111 yards rushing on 6 carries, including a 78-yard gain that set up Notre Dame's final touchdown of the day.
Posted on: October 1, 2011 11:45 pm
Edited on: October 1, 2011 11:45 pm
 

QUICK HITS: Notre Dame 38 Purdue 3

Posted by Tom Fornelli

NOTRE DAME WON. Notre Dame finally looked like the team it was hoping to be this year, and all it took was a date against Purdue to do so. This game was never really in doubt as the Irish scored a touchdown within the first 30 seconds of the opening kickoff, and finished the night with 549 yards of total offense. The majority of that damage came on the ground, as well, with Cierre Wood rushing for 192 yards and a touchdown while Jonas Gray rushed for 93 yards and a score of his own. Tommy Rees threw for 3 touchdowns and Michael Floyd returned to form with 12 receptions for 137 yards.

HOW NOTRE DAME WON. To put it simply, Notre Dame just has a lot more talent on its roster than Purdue does, and unlike the first four games of the Irish season, the Domers didn't hurt themselves with turnovers. That's right, for the first time this season, Notre Dame played a full 60 minutes without turning the ball over. And it was also the best that the Irish have looked all season. Coincidence? I don't think so.

WHEN NOTRE DAME WON. This one was over early. Purdue quarterback Caleb TerBush's first pass of the evening was picked off after he tried to force a bad throw into coverage, and two plays later Tommy Rees was connecting with Michael Floyd on a 35-yard touchdown. It was only 24 seconds into the game, but after those first three plays, you already had the feeling that Notre Dame wasn't going to have a lot of trouble on Saturday night.

WHAT NOTRE DAME WON. It's always nice for Notre Dame to beat an in-state rival, but really this is a game that the Irish should have won. Of course, considering the trouble that the Irish had in their first four games, coming out and dominating a team that it should dominate is a good sign. Outside of games with USC and Stanford, Notre Dame is through the toughest part of its schedule this year, and a 9-win campaign isn't completely out of the question.

WHAT PURDUE LOST. Purdue fans seemed to take exception to Brian Kelly's comments that this game was Purdue's "Super Bowl" earlier in the week, and I hope those Purdue fans were right, because if this was Purdue's Super Bowl, then there's a lot to worry about in West Lafayette this season. Purdue is now 2-2 on the year, and looking at the rest of its schedule and the way this team has played, it's hard to see the Boilermakers getting much more than 4 wins this season.

THAT WAS CRAZY. I repeat, Notre Dame played a full game without turning the ball over.
Posted on: September 26, 2011 12:07 pm
Edited on: September 26, 2011 12:07 pm
 

Brian Kelly showing a lot of patience with Rees

Posted by Tom Fornelli

When the 2010 season ended with a win over Miami in the Sun Bowl, the competition between Dayne Crist and Tommy Rees to be Notre Dame's starting quarterback began. It lasted all spring, through the summer and into the days before the Irish started the season against South Florida. After those months of practices, Brian Kelly decided that he was going to roll with Dayne Crist.

After 30 minutes of play in which Crist completed less than half of his passes and threw a costly red zone interception -- one that wasn't his fault, as evidenced by Kelly's tantrum with receiver T.J. Jones -- Crist lost his job as the Notre Dame quarterback. In stepped Rees, and he hasn't given up the job since.

Though he has given up the ball quite a bit. In his three and a half games of action, Tommy Rees has been responsible for 9 turnovers, with 6 interceptions and 3 fumbles. Those 9 turnovers are more than 88 FBS teams have committed all season. Yet, through all of these turnovers, Kelly says he has no plans on making another change at quarterback.

"Right now Tommy is 6-1 as a starter," Kelly said on Sunday. "He's led two very huge drives for us late in the game for us against Michigan and of course against Pittsburgh. He's obviously not a finished product, nobody is. He'll continue to get better and better."

While the Michigan loss can't be pinned on Rees, he did fumble the ball away with the Irish clinging to a 24-21 lead in the fourth quarter. He also threw 2 interceptions earlier in the game. Without those three turnovers, the Irish might not have needed Rees to lead that late drive to take the lead back and Michigan may have been in too large a hole to dig out of.

In Saturday's win against Pitt, Rees led another drive to give Notre Dame the lead in the fourth quarter, and this time it held. He also committed two more turnovers in the first half that made sure Notre Dame was never able to pull away from Pitt. Rees wouldn't have to be so adept at fourth quarter drives if he was able to keep from turning the ball over in the first three quarters.

Why is it that Kelly was only willing to give Dayne Crist a half before pulling him, yet has allowed Rees chance after chance?

The only reasoning that makes sense to me is that Crist is a senior and Rees is a sophomore. Kelly is approaching this situation like he knows his team is making progress on the field, particularly on defense, but that it's just not ready for primetime BCS glory just yet. Kelly is essentially using the 2011 season to prepare for 2012, his third season in South Bend, to truly try and wake up those echoes.

It's a calculated risk that, while frustrating for Notre Dame fans, could be one that pays off the next two seasons.
Posted on: September 11, 2011 6:43 pm
Edited on: September 11, 2011 9:28 pm
 

Big Ten poll reactions, Week 2

Posted by Adam Jacobi

This week's polls have been released. Here's how the Big Ten fared, from the top of the polls to its bottom, and what it means.

(AP/Coaches)

7/8. Wisconsin

I grumbled yesterday about the fact that Wisconsin's ranking was too low relative to the actual quality of its team, and to the polls' credit, the Badgers moved up a spot in each poll. Granted, that was only because Texas A&M enjoyed its bye week early and was summarily punished for that by pollsters, which, all right I guess you showed them, but it's a start. I've got the Badgers sixth on my personal ballot, and that might still be too low, but the fact that the Badgers are moving up is a step in the right direction.

10/10. Nebraska

Nebraska held steady at No. 10, meanwhile, but this is just that silly lazy pollster mentality than a reflection of the season Nebraska has put together thus far. The Huskers struggled for a second straight week to justify their lofty praise, beating a middling Fresno State squad 42-29 and looking decidedly average in the process. For that, Nebraska's No. 18 in my poll, and if that sounds like OMG MEDIA DISRESPECT, keep in mind we're hit over the head year-round with the "every week counts" mantra from the BCS elite, so if we're going to be honest about what that actually means, then we need to be able to look at Nebraska's first two games and realize that it has not played at a Top 10 level thus far. Taylor Martinez is a wonderfully gifted runner, but as a passer he is a ticking time bomb. The way he's thrown the ball in the first two games won't be enough to lead Nebraska to even a division title, much less the conference crown and a BCS bowl bid.

15/15. Michigan State

The Spartans made slight jumps in both polls after their throttling of Florida Atlantic, and that ranking is just about right so there's no qualms here from me. Their defense is going to get a major test with a trip to South Bend this week, and let's not kid ourselves -- even at 0-2, Notre Dame is a very dangerous opponent. If Tommy Rees and his compatriots hadn't turned the ball over five times in each of the first two weeks, they'd probably be 2-0 right now, and a borderline Top-10 team. If MSU survives this road test, it deserves to move up in the polls. Way up.

17/16. Ohio State

Just as I was bearish on Nebraska for its underwhelming performance against Fresno, I'm mortified by Ohio State getting taken to the wire by Toledo, so to see the Buckeyes only drop from 15th in both polls to here is a bit of a joke. They still deserve to be ranked, and they've got nothing but BCS opponents from here on out so the stage is set for earning a return to national prominence, but right now it sure looks like the Buckeyes are three or four spots too high. Hey, every week counts, right?

Others receiving votes: Michigan (104 AP votes, 97 Coaches votes), Northwestern (19 AP votes, 31 Coaches votes), Penn State (18 AP votes, 29 Coaches votes)
Posted on: September 11, 2011 12:13 am
 

QUICK HITS: Michigan 35, Notre Dame 31

Posted by Adam Jacobi

MICHIGAN WON. The Michigan Wolverines won a thriller in Ann Arbor Saturday night, coming back from a 24-7 deficit in the fourth quarter to upend the Notre Dame Fighting Irish 35-31 in what will be one of the wildest finishes of the year. Denard Robinson was his usual do-everything self, throwing for 338 yards and four touchdowns, and rushing for 108 yards and another score. The two teams scored three touchdowns in the final 1:12 of the game, with Michigan's winning score coming with just 0:02 left on the clock.

HOW MICHIGAN WON: Two words: Denard Robinson. Robinson threw for three of his four touchdowns in the fourth quarter alone (and rushed in a one-yard fumble recovery for the fourth), and he accounted for 237 of Michigan's 240 yards in that final quarter of play. He made throws that required his receivers to make the more athletic adjustment to the ball, and the Wolverines responded admirably; Roy Roundtree, Junior Hemingway, and Jeremy Gallon in particular made play after play on deep passes in the second half, even in heavy coverage.

WHEN MICHIGAN WON: Notre Dame led for the vast majority of the game, and even Michigan's first lead of the game only lasted for 42 seconds. But Denard Robinson led Michigan straight down the field in three plays and found Roy Roundtree on a jump ball in the end zone with two seconds left, giving Michigan its final margin of victory.

WHAT MICHIGAN WON: This victory was inestimably important for Brady Hoke and his charges, as they put together a rally that will be remembered for decades and beyond by Michigan faithful. That it came against rivals Notre Dame and under the lights adds an extra layer of mythic glory to it all. The Michigan offense looked dead to rights in the first three quarters. Now future opponents know the deluge can happen at any moment, even in the new-look Al Borges offense.

WHAT NOTRE DAME LOST: Notre Dame should believe that it had no business losing that game, because it didn't. QB Tommy Rees shredded Michigan all night long, with the Irish racking up over 500 yards from scrimmage (315 passing, 198 rushing tonight) for the second straight game and registering 28 first downs to Michigan's 16. Unfortunately, Notre Dame also turned the ball over five times for the second straight week, with two turnovers coming inside Michigan's 5-yard line and another coming inside the Michigan 30. That's a lot of points coming off the board, and in a four-point loss, those mistakes are fatal. Notre Dame has a lot going for it, especially on offense, but the turnovers cannot continue.

That monumental bad fortune, however, might have an insidious cause: the logos on Notre Dame's helmets were three-leaf clovers, and not four-leaf clovers. What ever happened to the "luck of the Irish"?

THAT WAS CRAZY: The entire fourth quarter. All of it. Everything. College football is the greatest sport in America and this game is why. 

Posted on: September 8, 2011 2:02 pm
Edited on: September 8, 2011 2:41 pm
 

Man vs. Woman vs. Machine: Week 2


Posted by Tom Fornelli


Man vs. Woman vs. Machine is a feature that runs every Thursday afternoon. It is here that Tom Fornelli fights against the rising tide of female empowerment and technology to ensure that men everywhere can at least claim that college football is still theirs. He does this by picking a set of games against the spread against his girlfriend, Lynn, and his Playstation 3.

It is clear that this is a fight that will not be won easily, as both Woman and Machine dealt me a crushing blow in the first week of the season. Fear not, my fellow containers of the Y chromosome, for a war is not lost in the first battle, and we have many more to fight. So let's get to the senseless slaughter, shall we?

Oklahoma State (-14 1/2) vs. Arizona - Thursday, 8pm (All times Eastern)

Man - This one could wind up being quite the barnburner much along the lines of the Baylor/TCU game we saw on Friday night. It's two good offenses facing off against each other, and it may come down to which defense can make a stop when it has to. Even though I'd give the edge on defense to Arizona, the fact that this game is being played in Stillwater makes me lean toward the Cowboys, but at the same time Oklahoma State's defense makes me think this one could be a lot closer than the spread indicates. Of course, it's hard to forget Oklahoma State beating Arizona 36-10 in the Alamo Bowl. Screw it, I'm riding with the Cowboys. Pick: Oklahoma State

Woman - "Remember the Alamo Bowl." Pick: Oklahoma State

Machine - The Machine sees a lot more defense in this one than I'd expect, and Brandon Weeden struggles against Mike Stoops' defense, throwing for only 245 yards and 1 touchdown. OSU wins 27-14, but the Cats cover. Pick: Arizona

Arizona State (-7 1/2) vs. Missouri - Friday, 10:30pm

Man - I really don't have a lot of faith in the Missouri offense after last week's performance, but it's hard to get a decent read on Arizona State based on one game against UC-Davis. While I still believe in the Missouri defense, I think being on the road will catch up to them in the second half and the Sun Devils pull this one off. Pick: Arizona State

Woman - "This is Frank Kush Field in 108 degree weather.  This is your football team on Frank Kush Field in 108 degree weather. Any questions?" Pick: Arizona State

Machine - The Machine is fearful of James Franklin's inability to throw passes over 7 yards as well, but it does not think that will keep the Tigers from putting up points and the defense from smothering ASU. Missouri 24-10. Pick: Missouri

Wisconsin (-21 1/2) vs. Oregon State - Saturday, 12pm

Man - Bret Bielema let me down last week. After Wisconsin buried UNLV early on Thursday night he decided to call off the dogs and not pursue 100 points. That being said, Oregon State lost at home to Sacramento State. I don't care how kind and cuddly this new version of Bret Bielema has become, nor how large the spread, I am not picking a team that loses at home to Sacramento State. Pick: Wisconsin

Woman - "On one hand, Russell Wilson magic and a monster Badger homefield advantage.  On the other hand, a hammy-challenged Beaver rusher and a secondary that might as well be wearing Louboutin athletic shoes.  Wait, that's the same hand.  Wisconsin wins easily but throttles back, so doesn't quite cover." Pick: Oregon State

Machine - ALERT! ALERT! THE MACHINE HAS BEEN COMPROMISED! IT IS ON DRUGS! IT HAS OREGON STATE WINNING THIS GAME 16-0! Pick: Oregon State

Auburn vs. Mississippi State (-6 1/2) - Saturday, 12:21pm

Man: We saw how tough life could be for Auburn this season without Cam Newton when the Tigers barely had the power to squeak by Utah State at home last weekend, and Mississippi State is a much tougher foe than the Aggies were. That being said, a spread this large for a team on the road in the SEC seems rather ominous, so while I wouldn't be shocked if Auburn loses, it's going to be another close game. Pick: Auburn

Woman - "Pay no attention to the neutered Tiger behind the curtain. Mississippi State wins but doesn't cover." Pick: Auburn

Machine - According to The Machine, Auburn will once again find itself in a whole during the fourth quarter this week, but unlike last Saturday, this hole will be too deep to climb out of. Mississippi State wins 35-21. Pick: Mississippi State

Penn State vs. Alabama (-9 1/2) - Saturday, 3:30pm

Man - An SEC team makes a rare appearance in a Big Ten stadium this week, and I have a feeling that the Tide won't be the most polite visitors the conference has seen. I know that there are still some questions on offense for Alabama, but I just don't see Penn State's offense being able to do much against that Alabama defense. Pick: Alabama

Woman - "Do you ever wonder if Joe Paterno is actually comatose lying in a hospital bed at some nursing home called Happy Valley and we're all just figments of his imagination? No? Uh, me either... Regardless, good D versus great D means JoePa's gonna have bad dreams." Pick: Alabama

Machine - The Machine sees Robert Bolden enjoying his date against Alabama a lot more this season, but unfortunately a late 40-yard touchdown run by Trent Richardson makes it a Not-So-Happy Valley. Alabama just gets by 24-23. Pick: Penn State

Duke vs. Stanford (-21 1/2) - Saturday, 3:30pm

Man - Let me make this clear: There is nothing I enjoy less than picking against a home team that is a 21 1/2-point underdog. That being said, one of these teams has Andrew Luck and the other one lost to Richmond last week. Pick: Stanford

Woman - "Crimson last year, now Cardinal? Red looks terrible on Duke. Coincidentally, reverse the spread and it would equal the mean IQ point differential in respective student bodies." Pick: Stanford

Machine - The Machine does not experience human emotions, but it is torn on this game. Does The Machine go with the kids who designed it, or the kids who begged mommy and daddy to buy it for them? Stanford wins 34-31. Pick: Duke

Georgia vs. South Carolina (-3 1/2) - Saturday, 4:30pm

Man - This is an incredibly important game for so early in the season as it could play a large role in who wins the SEC East. It also features yet another home underdog, but to be honest, I'm not all that concerned this time around. What I am concerned about is the fact I have so much faith in a team that features Stephen Garcia as its quarterback. Pick: South Carolina

Woman - "I'm assuming Mark Richt's players want him to get out of Sanford Stadium alive." Pick: Georgia

Machine - Stephen Garcia not only starts for the Gamecocks, but he plays so unbelievably well that Steve Spurrier doesn't even think about pulling him. Garcia throws for 296 yards and 4 touchdowns as Mark Richt's seat grows even hotter. South Carolina wins 28-21. Pick: South Carolina

Nebraska (-28.5) vs. Fresno State - Saturday, 7pm

Man - While I have no doubts about the fact that the Nebraska defense is going to make life hell on the Fresno State offense, I'm just not ready to give the Cornhusker offense enough credit in this one. Until Taylor Martinez can show me he can have consistently good games, a spread like this is just too large to bet against. Pick: Fresno State

Woman - "Quick question: Can Bo Pelini find out where I live? He can?" Pick: Nebraska

Machine - Much like The Woman, The Machine fears Bo Pelini smashing it into a million pieces. Nebraska wins easily, 48-17. Pick: Nebraska

USC (-9 1/2) vs. Utah - Saturday, 7:30pm

Man - We all saw how much trouble that USC had with Minnesota last week, and I have a hard time believing that Utah is any weaker than the Golden Gophers. Plus at some point Lane Kiffin is going to blow USC's chances of covering by going for two and failing, and I don't want to have to rely on one of Kiffin's dumb decisions paying off to get me a win. Pick: Utah

Woman - "I'll take the points over boneheaded Lane Kiffin, even if the Song Girls try to lure the Utes into the rocks." Pick: Utah

Machine - The Machine's pick does not disappoint me this week, though I was saddened to see that USC kicked two field goals rather than failing on a two-point conversion. Utah wins 21-6. Pick: Utah

Michigan vs. Notre Dame (-4 1/2) - Saturday, 8pm

Man - You know, Notre Dame's offense actually had a great game against South Florida last week if you could somehow erase the five turnovers, and the idea of that same offense facing a Michigan defense that can't be totally over 2010 causes me to lean towards picking the Irish here. That being said, the first ever night game at the Big House is bound to give the Wolverines a pretty nice boost, and I think this game is going to be pretty darn close. I'm not sure who wins, but I have to take the home team and the points here. Pick: Michigan

Woman - "After last week, Notre Dame has officially become the Chicago Cubs of college football." Pick:Michigan

Machine - The Machine nailed Notre Dame's loss last week, but it seems its faith in the school has been restored a bit. Or at least it believes in the healing powers of Tommy Rees as the new Irish starter throws for over 300 yards and 3 touchdowns as the Irish cruise to a 46-29 win. Pick: Notre Dame

Standings

Season Record (Last Week)

1. Machine 11-4 (11-4)
1. Woman 11-4 (11-4)
3. Man 8-7 (8-7)
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com