Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly didn’t waste any time making a decision after assessing his squad’s 23-20 loss to South Florida on Saturday.
Kelly announced Tuesday that Tommy Rees will start at quarterback for Saturday night's game at Michigan, replacing Dayne Crist. Crist was benched in the second half of last Saturday’s game. Rees led an Irish rally in the second half, throwing for 296 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.
Crist was named the starter two weeks ago despite Rees going 4-0 as a starter last season. Kelly wasn’t about to wait another week after watching Crist throw for just 95 yards and a drive-killing interception in the end zone.
“I want to win right now and believe Tommy gives us the best change to win against Michigan,” Kelly told reporters.
Notre Dame trailed South Florida 16-0 at the half.
Kelly was spot on making this decision today. An 0-2 start would kill much of the momentum they gained at the end of last season. And Rees is simply the better quarterback right now. Crist should be commended for coming back from a season-ending injury, but Rees gives the Fighting Irish (0-1) their best chance to win.
There is a chance that Crist's performance was due to rust. Prior to Saturday, Crist hadn't played since October 30, 2010. He could just need some time to shake off the rust. Unfortunately, Kelly can't take the chance. Notre Dame needs to win now.