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Notre Dame sticking with Tommy Rees at QB, Kelly promises

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Oklahoma v Notre Dame

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Updated: September 29, 2013 9:16PM

Notre Dame stumbled out of the gate offensively for the fourth game in a row. But unlike in the previous two weeks, the Irish couldn’t overcome the slow start Saturday against Oklahoma, and now they find themselves out of the Associated Press Top 25 poll.

Oklahoma turned three first-half interceptions into points on the way to a 35-21 victory at Notre Dame Stadium. Notre Dame (3-2) moves forward with several questions. But one isn’t who will be guiding the offense.

‘‘There’s no question, the quarterback that’s going to start for us is Tommy Rees,’’ coach Brian Kelly said during a teleconference Sunday.

Rees went 9-for-24 for 104 yards Saturday. He threw the three interceptions and also had two touchdown passes. He was 14-for-34 for 142 yards the previous week against Michigan State.

‘‘We’ve just got to be more consistent, deal better with certain situations, stay out of negative downs,’’ Rees said. ‘‘Just continue to work hard and get better.’’

The struggles extend to the receivers and the line, Kelly said.

‘‘We did not do a good job of helping [Rees] out [Saturday] in some of the routes,’’ Kelly said. ‘‘There were a number of instances that he wasn’t protected as well as he needed to be or the routes were not run as well.’’

Notre Dame rotated backup quarterback Andrew Hendrix into some series Saturday. He had five carries for 10 yards and was 0-for-1 passing.

‘‘That’s something we’re trying to include within the offense and moving forward, continuing to integrate him into the offense,’’ Kelly said. ‘‘Andrew gives us that dimension that allows us to run the football, help us out in some short-yardage situations where we know it’s been difficult for us with so many guys on the line of scrimmage that it doesn’t turn into throw-the-football every time.’’

Kelly wants to avoid using the third-string quarterback, freshman Malik Zaire, this season.

‘‘You’re not going to see Malik unless we get into an injury situation,’’ Kelly said. ‘‘We only have the three quarterbacks, so we have to keep him ready to go. But I’d prefer not to play him unless we have a medical situation.’’

NOTES: Coach Brian Kelly said Notre Dame will discuss linebacker Ben Councell’s fourth-quarter targeting ejection with the Atlantic Coast Conference commissioner.

‘‘We’ll make our case that in video as we’ve looked at it, we clearly don’t see any intent for him to lead and intentionally try to strike with his helmet,’’ Kelly said.

† Kelly said wide receiver TJ Jones ‘‘rolled’’ an ankle Saturday but did not classify it as a long-term injury.

† Defensive lineman Sheldon Day ‘‘tweaked’’ an ankle during pregame drills and did not play. Neither did running back Greg Bryant, who has a knee injury.


Twitter: @lamondpope

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