Notre Dame quarterback Tommy Rees ready to snap to it
LaMond Pope Sun-Times Media August 3, 2013 8:36PM
Notre Dame quarterback Tommy Rees started two games last season after making 12 starts the previous year. | Getty Images
31 Temple, 2:30
7 at Michigan, 7
14 at Purdue, 7
21 Michigan State, 2:30
28 Oklahoma, 2:30
5 Arizona State*, 6:30
19 USC, 6:30
26 at Air Force, 4
2 Navy, 2:30
9 at Pitt, TBA
23 BYU, 2:30
30 at Stanford, TBA
*at Arlington, Texas
Nov. 30 at Stanford. If everything breaks well for both teams, the regular-season finale could have BCS implications for the Irish and Cardinal. Notre Dame won an overtime thriller last year.
QB Everett Golson. The departures of linebacker Manti Te’o and tight end Tyler Eifert were expected. Golson’s suspension for the fall because of “poor academic judgment” means the Irish will be without someone who was emerging as an offensive leader.
RB Amir Carlisle. Injuries prevented the USC transfer from playing last season. When healthy, he impressed during spring drills.
Updated: September 5, 2013 6:36AM
South Bend, Ind. — The extra film sessions. The bonus time spent in the weight room. The final rep in practice.
It’s done with a shot at the national championship in mind.
Alabama routed the Irish 42-14 in the title game last year.
Notre Dame opens camp Monday with plenty of experience, particularly on defense. The Irish also have some questions to address.
How will Tommy Rees perform?
Everett Golson is serving a suspension for the fall term, meaning Rees will be the starting quarterback. Rees appeared in 11 games last year and made two starts. He started 12 games the previous season.
“He took every mental rep, even though he didn’t get them in the games,” Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said. “He was engaged in practices, he got tons of reps, got a chance to really see the games unfold. That year, although it wasn’t one of a number of snaps, he was in critical times, influenced games and helped us have an undefeated season. He learned a lot last year.”
Who will step up in the running game?
Theo Riddick and Cierre Wood led the Irish in rushing last year. Both are gone. That leaves George Atkinson III and Cam McDaniel as the most experienced backs. Amir Carlisle and Greg Bryant also are options.
“We were doing a video clip of some of our big plays last year. When we put it on, we saw George quite a bit,” Kelly said. “We know we have a big‑play guy in George. He has things he needs to continue to work on: ball security, low pads, all the things everybody in this room knows about. But Cam McDaniel showed us he can be a very good back for us, as well.”
How will the defense do without Manti Te’o?
Te’o led the Irish in tackles on the way to finishing as the runner-up for the Heisman Trophy. Eight members of Notre Dame’s defense started at least nine games last season. Nose guard Louis Nix III and defensive end Stephon Tuitt lead that group.
“Here is a young man, again, that knows in his last season of competition, it’s his chance to make his mark,” Kelly said of Nix. “It’s his opportunity to help lead a football team back to a championship. He knows it can be done.”
What weapons exist for the passing game?
Last season, tight end Tyler Eifert led the Irish with 685 receiving yards. TJ Jones was second with 649. Both had 50 catches and four touchdown receptions. Jones is back to aid Rees and the passing attack.
“When you have a Michael Floyd and a Tyler Eifert, get them the ball. It’s that simple,” Kelly said. “We don’t have those two guys. But we do have a TJ Jones, who I think is one of the best route-runners in the country. Wouldn’t surprise me if he’s a first‑round draft pick. He’s that good. Sometimes he doesn’t get enough of the accolades. I think he’s a great receiver.
“I think you’re going to see [DaVaris] Daniels emerge [and] Chris Brown. I think our tight ends can all catch the football. Our running backs have proven to be very good.”
What will the Irish do for an encore?
At Notre Dame, the expectations are always high.
“It’s pretty clear that our players are committed to one goal, and that is to get back to a national championship,” Kelly said, “just as every other BCS school on media day is expecting the same thing.”