We’re not even completely through the first weekend and already Notre Dame is having quarterback problems. Fighting Irish coach Brian Kelly hinted there could be a quarterback switch as soon as this week for his team.
“We'll meet here about 4, start to discuss some things relative to personnel, and then whatever decision we make, we'll talk to the quarterbacks involved and then get rolling again on Monday with the decision as to how we go,” Kelly told reporters Sunday.
Notre Dame was plagued by shoddy quarterback play in the first half by Dayne Crist in Saturday’s 23-20 loss to South Florida. Two first-half turnovers in the red zone, including an interception in the end zone by Crist put Notre Dame in an early hole.
Kelly benched Crist in the second half and inserted Tommy Rees. Rees played well in the second half following a two hour-plus rain delay, completing 24 of 34 passes for 296 yards, with two touchdowns and two interceptions.
Rees’ two interceptions notwithstanding, the sophomore outplayed Crist, who completed just 7 of 15 passes for 95 yards and an interception.
It wouldn’t be a shock if Rees took over the starting job. In seven games last season, including five starts over the final five games last season, Rees went 100-for-164 with 1,106 yards, 12 touchdowns and eight interceptions. Notre Dame went 4-1 over its final five games with Rees as the starter, beating USC and Miami in the process.
Rees took over the starting job last season after Crist injured his knee in the first quarter of Notre Dame’s loss to Tulsa.
Kelly didn’t blame the loss entirely on his quarterbacks, though. He was thoroughly disappointed by the play of the whole team, especially his upperclassmen. Notre Dame out gained South Florida in total yards 508 to 254, but committed five turnovers, making the loss that much harder to take.
Kelly said on Saturday: “We’ve been down this road before. The disappointing thing is we thought going into a year where we had some experience that we wouldn’t have to go through this. It looks like we’re going to have to make sure that our players understand what it takes to win football games.”