Sunday, October 16, 2011
Bye week grades: quarterbacks
By Matt Fortuna
Throughout the bye week, we will take a look at Notre Dame by position and see how each stacks up halfway through the regular season.
Summary: It's usually not a good sign when you have a quarterback controversy in the first game of the season. And whether or not Dayne Crist deserved to get hooked after one mediocre half remains up for debate. But Tommy Rees has done a good job of improving through the first six games of the season. The past two weeks have certainly helped his grade here, as Rees has led consecutive 500-yard, no-turnover performances for the Irish offense. The numbers overall, however, have been pretty good as well. In completing 66 percent of his passes, Rees has thrown for 1,503 yards with 14 touchdowns and six interceptions. And he has been sacked just four times.
The big eye-openers, of course, are Rees' five fumbles, three of which he lost. Rees has done a better job of protecting the ball as of late and has clearly built a tremendous rapport with both Michael Floyd and Tyler Eifert. Picking up where he left off to start the second half -- and adjusting to the different looks he will be seeing as he continues to develop -- will dictate how far Rees can take Notre Dame.
Backups: This area is really in the eye of the beholder. If you look at Crist as a true No. 2 quarterback -- and by all indications from Brian Kelly that is exactly what he currently is -- then Notre Dame can be thankful it has someone ready to step in with the experience that Crist has. Andrew Hendrix, for the sake of argument, fits into a backup role here as well, and he showed flashes of greatness in his debut against Air Force. Having a mobile threat like Hendrix to insert throughout the game can keep defenses honest and adds some much needed juice under center, where Rees has been anything but mobile.