- Matt Fortuna, ESPN Staff Writer
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Tommy Rees watched Notre Dame's Dublin opener from home with his family, accepting his one-game suspension for an offseason arrest and seeing his teammates roll to a 40-point victory without him.
"There were times, maybe not yelling" at the TV, Rees said, "but looking at things and kind of knowing what's going on. A little different way to watch a game."
When he returned to the field for the Irish's two-minute drill Saturday, he was booed by his classmates in the student section.
"That's just something that comes with the territory, I guess," Rees said. "There's been some highs, there's been some lows here, but the highs definitely outweigh the lows. The crowd's emotions were a little flipped at the end of the game, so like I said, just comes with it."
"I've never tried to use negative comments as motivation," he added. "I've always thought if you're playing quarterback at Notre Dame, that's motivation enough. The guys in the locker room, the coaches, all you need."
Rees' success in leading Notre Dame on a 12-play, 55-yard drive to set up the game-winning field goal against Purdue has led to much speculation about his role.
Coach Brian Kelly has said that Everett Golson is his starter, and he hopes his starter can go the distance. But Rees, whose 16 career starts are 14 more than Golson's, may be more effective at managing end-of-game situations.
"Obviously my goal is to be the starter," Rees said. "My job right now is to help the team any way I'm asked and if I'm given opportunities to play, to make the most of them. I'm going to let the coaches decide when those opportunities are given and I've just got to stay prepared."
Rees did not take practice reps until the week leading up to the Purdue game. He said that getting back into game action was in some ways like riding a bike, though he would often stay after practice during camp to work on timing with his wide receivers.
"A lot of mental work," Rees said of preparing while sitting. "Watching, kind of get a different view of the game when you're not in for a long period of time. You kind of treat it like you're injured without actually being injured."
Rees roomed with Golson during camp, and he said that the redshirt freshman remained supportive after getting taken out near the end of Saturday's game. As an aspiring coach and the elder statesmen among Notre Dame's four scholarship quarterbacks, Rees has lent a helping hand wherever need be.
"We have a good mutual respect for one another," he said of Golson. "So when I talk to him I'll pull him aside, I'll try to tell him to look here, look here. I just verbalize it like the coaches do. But coming from me, a guy that's played, I think it can resonate with him a little more. I have different ways to be able to connect with him in that sense, a little more specific, playing the quarterback position."
Home cookin': Louis Nix's mother went to her first Notre Dame home game Saturday. The more, the merrier, as far as the Jacksonville, Fla., native is concerned, so the redshirt sophomore is pleased that his school's new affiliation with the ACC could make that a reality.
"If I can go back home I'm happy," Nix said. "The ACC, what comes to mind is going to Miami or Florida State. I don't know what's going to happen. But I would love to go home, to be honest. My family would get to come see me a little bit more than they can right now."
Most of Nix's family attended the Irish's Champs Sports Bowl loss last season in Orlando, Fla.