Tag:Tommy Rees
Posted on: December 31, 2010 7:09 pm
Edited on: December 31, 2010 7:11 pm

Bowl Grades: Sun Bowl

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Notre Dame never breaks a sweat during 33-17 win over Miami in El Paso

Notre Dame

Offense: Tommy Rees probably isn't the best quarterback on scholarship at Notre Dame, but he's proven that sometimes there's more to the quarterback position than talent.  The Irish improved to 4-0 on the season when Rees starts, though even Rees would tell you it's a lot easier to play quarterback when you have a talented wide receiver like Michael Floyd at your disposal.

Floyd says he hasn't made a decision as to whether or not he'll return for his senior season, but there are likely some NFL scouts drooling after his Sun Bowl MVP performance on Friday.  Floyd finished the game with 6 receptions for 106 yards and two touchdowns.  Still, as nice as Floyd was for the Irish, the real key to their success was the running game, which racked up over 200 yards behind Cierre Wood, Robert Hughes and Theo Riddick.  If it weren't for the Irish offense slowing down a bit in the second half -- which is understandable considering the game was already over at halftime -- I'd be giving them a higher grade than this.  Grade: B+

Defense: The Notre Dame defense had flown a bit under the radar this season, and came into the Sun Bowl allowing only one touchdown in the last 12 quarters of play.  That one touchdown was by USC, and it was a four-play three-yard drive following a turnover.  The Irish stretched that streak to 15 quarters before Miami found its way into the end zone, and forced four turnovers on the day with safety Harrison Smith intercepting three passes by himself.

Miami finished the game with over 400 yards and 17 points of offense, but just about all of those came when the game was well out of reach late. Grade: A

Coaching: Brian Kelly didn't come to South Bend with the same fanfare that Charlie Weis and Ty Willingham did, but it's starting to look as though he may finally be the head coach that restores the winning tradition of Notre Dame.  The Irish attacked Miami's defense early and built a big enough lead that it was able to coast through the second half, and Bob Diaco's defense stuffed Miami's running game and forced Jacory Harris to throw.  And when you force Jacory Harris to throw, it's but a matter of time before the turnovers happen.  Grade: A


Offense: It was really a tale of two quarterbacks for Miami.  Jacory Harris came into the game looking to redeem himself and just made things worse.  Here's what you need to know about Harris' day: he completed seven passes.  Only four of them were completed to Miami receivers, the other three ended up in the hands of Notre Dame.

Stephen Morris came on, and though he threw an interception of his own, Miami's offense looked a lot better while he was in the game.  Morris threw for 283 yards and two touchdowns, and even though a lot came in garbage time, the fact he didn't quit says a lot about him.  Had he played the entire game, the outcome may have been a bit different.  Grade: D

Defense: I can't blame Miami's defense for this one, as Jacory Harris didn't put them in a very good position in the first half. Hard as it may be to believe given the outcome of the game, I was actually impressed with Miami's defense in this game for the final three quarters.  Even though the outcome of the game was never really in doubt, Miami's defense never stopped playing, and kept holding Notre Dame to field goals.  Marcus Fortson, in particular, was impressive in the second half, frequently disrupting life in the Notre Dame backfield. 

All that being said, however, Miami's defense never made a play to bail out its offense either. Grade:C+

Coaching: I do not envy the task that Jeff Stoutland had going into this game.  A lame duck coach filling in for the recently fired Randy Shannon, and in charge of a team that seemed to lose interest in the 2010 season over a month ago.  My only qualm with anything he did was starting Harris over Morris at quarterback, but given the fact that Morris sprained his ankle in practice, I can't even blame him for that. Grade: Incomplete

Final Grade

If you were tuning into this game hoping to see a classic like the meetings between these teams in the late 80s, then you were no doubt disappointed. Still, the game was a microcosm of the directions these once mighty programs seem to be going.  Each team has plenty of work left to do, but Notre Dame seems to have already taken the first step back to respectability, while Miami needs to build a foundation first.  Grade: D

Posted on: December 30, 2010 2:16 pm

CBS Bowl Bonanza: Sun Bowl

Posted by Tom Fornelli

The Basics: Notre Dame (7-5) vs. Miami (7-5), 2pm EST, CBS

Why You Should Watch: This is a pretty interesting matchup, not just for the teams playing in it, but because of the history between these two schools.  It's not quite the Catholics vs. Convicts matchups of the late 80s and early 90s, as neither team has been all that successful the last few years, but a win in this game could be another step on the path back to the top of the polls.  Plus it's on CBS!

Keys to Victory for Notre Dame: Ever since Dayne Crist went down during a loss against Tulsa, Tommy Rees has stepped in and played well, and the Irish haven't lost since.  Sure, Rees hasn't exactly been tearing it up in Crist's absence, but he's been managing the offense extremely well for a freshman, and the Irish have also seen their running game get going.

In order to beat Miami, the Irish will have to keep that formula going.  It was good enough to beat Utah and USC, and it could work against Miami as well.  The key will be for the offensive line to give Rees time, as the Miami pass rush will be better than any he has faced thus far.

Still, as well as Rees has played, the real reason Notre Dame has won its last three games has been the play of the defense.  The Irish have only allowed 22 points over those three games, and if they can pressure Jacory Harris it's only a matter of time before he makes a mistake.

Keys to Victory for Miami: Miami has the talent edge in this matchup.  The question is what the team's motivations will be.  The Hurricanes are playing for an interim coach in Jeff Stoutland, and you really have to wonder how badly they even want to play this game, or if they'd rather just move on.

We know that Jacory Harris will come to play as this is his last chance to redeem what's been a terrible 2010 season.  Still, that could work against Miami.  Harris' biggest problem has always been his patience, and it will be key for him to not try and do too much.  Just take what the Irish defense gives him, and move the ball down the field.

On defense, the key will be to get to Rees.  Pressure him into making mistakes, and keep the running game in check.    If Miami can do this, and the offense limits mistakes and turnovers, then there's no reason that Miami can't win this game.

The Sun Bowl is like: that fight between Evander Holyfield and Mike Tyson, the rematch, in 1997.  Yes, Holyfield was still the champion at the time, but neither fighter was the same as the ones we'd seen earlier in their careers.  Still, a win in this game, much like that title fight, would help bring some legitimacy back to either program.  I just hope that nobody bites anybody's ear off.
Posted on: December 20, 2010 3:07 pm

Dayne Crist has no plans to transfer

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Notre Dame quarterback Dayne Crist came to South Bend as the heir apparent to Jimmy Clausen, and after Clausen left following his junior season, Crist came into 2010 with the starting job.  Things didn't go all that well for Crist as a starter.  For the second straight season his year came to an early end thanks to a ruptured patellar tendon he suffered during a loss at home to Tulsa.

That's when Tommy Rees, a freshman, took over under center for the Irish and Notre Dame has gone 3-0 since with wins over Utah and USC.  Which has led to a lot of speculation in and around South Bend that Crist was going to transfer rather than come back and compete with Rees for the starting job next season.  Which is news to Crist, because he says he has no plans on going anywhere.

“I don't know where it comes from," Crist told the South Bend Tribune. "There's a ton of negativity anytime you're hurt. People just want to throw you under the rug, and I don't talk to any of those people. So I don't know where I'm supposed to be transferring to.

“They should be informing me, where I'm transferring to. (I'm hearing that) I'm switching positions (too) and quitting football. I don't know which position I'm supposed to switch to. You tell me.

“This is all new information to me, but know I'm confident in my ability, confident in the doctors and the rehab process, confident that I'm going to come out firing when I'm able to come back and they give me clearance on everything.”

If Crist does come back, and it sure sounds like he's going to, Brian Kelly is going to have a tough decision to make next season.  Crist may be older and have more experience than Rees, but it's hard to argue with the results that Rees has had on the field.  Rees did help the Irish take the lead late in the fourth quarter in the Tulsa game before the defense gave up a game-winning touchdown in the final minute, and has won every start since.

Rees has looked like anything but a freshman since becoming the starter, and he's had to do it while the Irish offense was also without its leading rusher in Armando Allen.  If I were to guess at what the situation would be next spring, while I believe there will be a competition, I'd have to think that Rees would start the competition on top with Crist having to play catch up.
Posted on: November 28, 2010 1:57 am

What I Learned from the Pac-10 (Nov. 27)

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

1. The Ducks are who we thought they were. It's just not accurate to say we learned anything new about Oregon in their 48-29 Friday night win over Arizona . We knew already they were as dominant a second-half team as any in the country (save maybe their likely BCS title game foils at Auburn ), and that's how they played. We knew already with weapons like LaMichael James, Darron Thomas and even the ever-more-terrifying Josh Huff , the Ducks could put up nearly 50 points without even being particularly sharp in the first half, and that's what they did. We knew that playing in the comfort zone of Autzen Stadium, they were going to win and win comfortably when all was said and done, and in the end the Wildcats feel by nearly three touchdowns. (We also knew their defense could have the occasional

In short, we knew that Oregon was the 2010 Pac-10 champion and almost certainly on their way to the BCS championship game, and that's what we still know. If there was anything surprising about their dismantling of the Wildcats, it was the realization that by this point of the season, Oregon's championship-caliber excellence isn't even surprising any more.

2. And yeah, you can forget about them choking away that title berth in the Civil War. Mike Riley will almost certainly have his Oregon State team ready to play a competitive game against their archrivals at home in Corvallis, but it's hard to imagine that he has the horses to actually finish off the hypothetical shocker of the season, not when two of the Beavers' previous three results are a home loss to Washington State and today's hideous 38-0 whitewashing at the hands of Stanford . The Cardinal are legitimately playing as well as any team in the country right now, but still; fewer than 300 total yards an zero points doesn't exactly portend the kind of offensive explosion that will be necessary to stay with the Ducks.

3. USC is ready for its season to be over. The Oregon State result sandwiched between the aforementioned losses to Wazzu and Stanford? An inexplicable-looking 36-7 demolition of the Trojans that this space immediately chalked up to USC's longtime tendency to break into football hives upon crossing the Oregon border. But after watching USC's listless, often yawn-inducing performance in a 20-16 loss to a Notre Dame team that at times seemed determined to give the game away -- Irish quarterback Tommy Rees threw three interceptions, more than one of the highly charitable variety -- it may be time to wonder if Lane Kiffin is still able to get through to a team with nothing to play for other than pride.

Now, true, the Trojans still would have pulled out the victory if Ronald Johnson hadn't dropped a certain game-winning reception late, and the absence of Matt Barkley (coupled with a shaky-looking first start from Mitch Mustain , who averaged less than 5 yards an attempt and failed to throw a touchdown pass) no doubt didn't help USC's cause in the least, either. But for a team playing its oldest and arguably biggest rival, the spark needed to really get the Trojan blood pumping (and the crowd involved) seemed curiously absent. Maybe it was the rain. But maybe it's just Week 12 of a season whose self-described bowl game took place a month ago.

4. The end to one team's bowl streak is just the start of someone else's.  Or so it would appear after Washington edged Cal 16-13 to pull within a game of bowl eligibility at 5-6, with only the feeble specter of Washington State (surely not due for two major upsets this season) standing in the way of the Huskies' first postseason appearance since 2002. Steve Sarkisian 's second season in charge hasn't always lived up to the outsized expectations of the preseason, but at least he can point towards some concrete progress.

Unfortunately for Jeff Tedford , unless you count the upcoming long-since-overdue renovations to the Bears' Memorial Stadium, "concrete progress" seems further away than ever. Kevin Riley 's career-ending injury a few weeks back appears to have been a fatal dagger for Cal's bowl hopes, which finally dissolved in the loss and resulting final record of 5-7. The record is the worst of Tedford's nine-year Cal tenure, with the Bears missing the postseason for the first time since -- whaddya know -- 2002. Tedford's not in any kind of trouble just yet (don't forget that Cal was hands-down the worst program in the Pac-10 when he took over), but the heady mid-aughts days when the Bears were serious Rose Bowl and BCS contenders have never seemed further away than they did on Saturday.

5. Rick Neuheisel had better have something more up his sleeve this offseason than just canning Norm Chow. Because when you give up 55 points to Arizona State 's backup quarterback , your offensive coordinator is pretty obviously not the only thing wrong with your football team. 
Posted on: November 13, 2010 4:15 pm

Utah struggling in South Bend

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Coming off an embarrassing 47-7 loss at home against TCU last week, Utah was hoping to restore some of its credibility this week in the school's first trip to South Bend.  Instead the Utes look as though they're determined to shed whatever amount of dignity they have left.

To be honest, the team looks like it hasn't shaken off last week's loss, and they trail Notre Dame 14-3 at halftime.  A Notre Dame team that, last we saw, was losing at home to Tulsa a few weeks ago.  A Notre Dame team that is without it's starting quarterback, starting running back and has freshman Tommy Rees under center.

The Utes have managed to have a punt blocked and returned for a touchdown, pick up 11 penalties for 65 yards -- Notre Dame has none-- and only put up 118 yards of total offense.  What's worse is that the Irish have only managed 95 yards of offense, and Utah held on to the ball for over 18 minutes in the half.  It's just that Utah can't do anything with the ball when they have it, and have now been outscored 61-10 over the last six quarters.

Granted, the fact that Notre Dame hasn't been able to do much on offense does bode well for Utah in the second half, as an 11-point deficit certainly isn't insurmountable.  It's just that the Utes will have to wake up and get over last week's loss to do it.  If they don't, well, I can think of some folks in Boise who wouldn't be very upset to see Utah lose again.
Posted on: October 30, 2010 3:15 pm
Edited on: October 30, 2010 4:18 pm

Dayne Crist is done for season with knee injury

Posted by Tom Fornelli

It's certainly been a very hard week in South Bend with the death of Declan Sullivan, and while that situation tends to put the importance of college football in perspective, the Irish are trying to move forward on the football field.  Which is going to be a bit harder to do following an injury to quarterback Dayne Crist.

Crist scrambled for 28 yards on a third-and-eight to pick up a first down, but after being knocked out of bounds, he went to the ground clutching his left knee.  He did not return to the game, being replaced by freshman Tommy Rees, and was last seen with his left leg in an air cast and being helped to the locker room.

Notre Dame is not sure of the extent of Crist's injury, but they will be performing x-rays on the leg in the locker room.  It's safe to say that he will not be returning to today's game.

UPDATE: The diagnosis is in for Crist's injury, and it is not good.  He has a ruptured left patella tendon and his season is over.

Posted on: September 11, 2010 4:23 pm
Edited on: September 11, 2010 5:45 pm

Notre Dame's Crist leaves game with injury

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Brian Kelly has his first injured quarterback as head coach of Notre Dame .  After leading the Irish to a scoring drive and a 7-0 lead against Michigan on Saturday in South Bend, Dayne Crist appeared to hurt himself on a quarterback sneak on Notre Dame's next drive.  While replays didn't show exactly what happened, Crist seemed to take a blow on the head.

Notre Dame coaches were then seen waving smelling salts under Crist's nose on the sideline.

Crist was replaced by Tommy Rees who had his first pass intercepted, and Michigan tied the game on a touchdown pass on the first play after.  Rees would come out for Notre Dame's next drive while Crist stood on the sideline with his helmet on.  Nate Montana -- you may have heard of his father, some guy named Joe -- would then come out for the next Notre Dame drive, a quick three and out.

According to NBC commentator Tom Hammond, Crist is having trouble seeing out of his right eye.  He is not expected to return in the first half, and Notre Dame is being awfully quiet about the injury.

UPDATE: Crist returned to the game as Notre Dame's quarterback to start the second half

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