Tommy Rees looking to keep mistakes at a minimum
BY LAMOND POPE Sun-Times Media October 18, 2013 11:34PM
One of the main goals set by Irish quarterback Tommy Rees is “getting no negative plays for the offense.” | AP
AT NOTRE DAME
The facts: 6:30 p.m., Ch. 5, 890-AM.
The records: Notre Dame 4-2, USC 4-2.
The line: ND by 3.
Updated: November 20, 2013 6:13AM
SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Tommy Rees rolled to his left, looking for a target in the third quarter of the Oct. 5 game against Arizona State.
Notre Dame’s senior quarterback spotted tight end Troy Niklas in the end zone. Safety Alden Darby had tight coverage, but Niklas had a size advantage.
Rees tossed the ball high, and the 6-7 Niklas out-jumped the 5-11 Darby for a touchdown. Rees had three touchdowns in the 37-34 victory. But he also had one interception, which was returned for an Arizona State touchdown.
Rees gets a crack at another Pac-12 school Saturday night, when Notre Dame takes on rival USC. Rees and USC quarterback Cody Kessler know the importance of limiting mistakes. In his team’s four victories, Rees has nine touchdowns and one interception. He has four touchdowns and five interceptions in the Irish’s two losses.
“I want to continue to get better in all facets,” Rees said earlier this week. “Consistency in my play, understanding how to lead the team and getting no negative plays for the offense. That’s really where my focus is at.”
The Trojans have moved forward with Kessler at the helm. The sophomore shared time with Max Wittek in USC’s first two games before he was named the starter.
Kessler has 1,129 passing yards and eight touchdowns. He also has four interceptions, two of which came in a 62-41 loss at Arizona State.
He had a career-high 297 passing yards in the Trojans’ last game, a 38-31 victory against Arizona. The day included touchdown passes of 62 and 63 yards. And no interceptions.
“Cody was always a gamer. Once he learned the offense, he’s taking control of the offense,” USC interim coach Ed Orgeron said. “No turnovers last week. The command that he took, the deep-ball threats, those balls were on the money. The ability to scramble and just his leadership in the huddle and the belief the total team has in Cody. He is growing every day.”
Notre Dame’s defense has five interceptions. USC’s defense has seven interceptions.
“They’ve done a good job of playing different coverages and mixing it up,” Rees said. “When play USC, you always know you are playing against guys that can run/ They are talented. They are USC for a reason. For us, we’ve got to be focused and prepared within our game plan.”