Stats & Info: Tommy Rees

5 stats to know: Notre Dame at Michigan

September, 5, 2013

Matt Cashore/USA TODAY SportsNotre Dame and Michigan will play only the second night game at the Big House on Saturday.
Notre Dame and Michigan will play the final scheduled meeting between the teams at the Big House Saturday night (8 ET on ESPN/WatchESPN). They still have one more meeting next year in South Bend.

Here are five storylines to know heading into the game.

1. Since taking over as the starter for Michigan on Nov. 3, 2012, Devin Gardner has posted the second-highest Total QBR on third down (98.3) and the third-highest in the red zone (98.1) of any player with at least 30 action plays.

Last week against Central Michigan, the Wolverines scored five touchdowns in six red-zone trips, including all four times when Gardner was on the field.

Since taking over as starter, Michigan has scored 19 touchdowns in 22 trips to the red zone. In that time, Gardner has scored a touchdown on more than half of his 15 rushes inside the red zone.

2. Tommy Rees has completed 57 percent of his passes thrown 20 yards or longer in the last two seasons, 19 percentage points higher than Everett Golson. Rees had two touchdowns on such passes in Week 1 vs. Temple, both going to DaVaris Daniels.

Rees had a career-high seven completions that gained 20 yards or more against the Owls. That’s the most by a Notre Dame quarterback since Jimmy Clausen had seven in 2009 against Washington.

Michigan has allowed six touchdowns and has no interceptions on passes thrown 20 yards or longer since the start of last season. The Wolverines and Utah are the only two AQ defenses that do not have an interception on such passes.

3. Notre Dame did not allow a rushing touchdown last season until Week 8 and entered the BCS National Championship having conceded two rushing touchdowns in 33 red-zone trips.

Since, the Fighting Irish have allowed three rushing touchdowns in eight red-zone drives, including a 1-yard touchdown against Temple in Week 1.

4. Michigan has yet to lose at home under Brady Hoke (15-0), going undefeated at the Big House in each of the last two seasons (5-7 in road/neutral games). Hoke is the first Michigan coach to go undefeated at home in his first two seasons since Fielding Yost in 1901-02.

But only one of Hoke’s 15 home games have come against a ranked team: 2011 vs No. 17 Nebraska.

5. If the Irish want to win, avoiding turnovers is a good start. Notre Dame is 11-0 under Brian Kelly in games in which it was turnover-free.

In games Notre Dame committed a turnover under Kelly, they are 18-11.

Golson's departure impacts ground game

June, 10, 2013

Ric Tapia/Icon SMIEverett Golson's departure from Notre Dame will have an effect on the rushing attack.
The loss of starting quarterback Everett Golson is major cause for concern at Notre Dame.

Though the offense in 2011 was slightly better with Tommy Rees at quarterback (2.3 points per drive) than it was with Golson last season (2.2 points per drive), the loss of Golson's rushing ability will be an issue.

Golson's departure means the Irish will be without their top three rushers from a year ago (Theo Riddick was a senior in 2012 and Cierre Wood left school early for the NFL). The only returning contributor from the backfield is George Atkinson III. He’ll be joined by USC transfer Amir Carlisle (who missed 2012 due to injury) and Greg Bryant (No. 2 RB in 2013 ESPN 150).

After a slow start last season, Golson and the Irish rushing attack came into their own in October. The team averaged 3.8 yards per rush in its first four games, but that average jumped to 5.3 from that point forward – and that includes the 19-rush, 32-yard performance against Alabama in the BCS Championship Game.

Starting with the game against Miami on Oct. 6, more designed runs were called for Golson. He also took it upon himself to pick up yards with his legs more often. Golson's designed runs went from 2.0 to 5.1 per game, and his scrambles went from 1.2 to 2.9 per game.

In the first four games of the season, Golson rushed a total of 13 times for one first down and two touchdowns. After that, 23 of his 64 rushes resulted in a first down and he reached the end zone four times.

Rees simply does not have this element in his game. He has exactly one rushing play in his career longer than eight yards -- a 12-yard run against Tulsa during his freshman season -- and has never had more than six net rushing yards in a game.

Notre Dame looking for better QB play

April, 20, 2012

Brian Spurlock/US PresswireNotre Dame will play the 83rd Annual Blue-Gold game Saturday at Notre Dame Stadium.
Optimism was high in South Bend as Notre Dame entered the 2011 season. The Fighting Irish closed the 2010 campaign riding a four-game win streak including a 33-17 victory over Miami, FL in the Sun Bowl to finish 8-5.

They were entering their second season under Brian Kelly, and in his previous bowl subdivision stops at Central Michigan and Cincinnati, Year 2 proved to be very fruitful (he won the Big East title at Cincinnati in his second year).

However, there was one huge question surrounding the Irish entering the fall: who would be the starting quarterback, veteran Dayne Crist or sophomore Tommy Rees? Crist won the job, but was replaced at halftime of the season opener by Rees, who remained the starter for the rest of the 2011 season.

Crist transferred to Kansas at season’s end where he reunites with Charlie Weis, the man who recruited him to Notre Dame in 2008.

While Rees threw 20 touchdown passes, he also consistently incurred the wrath of Kelly by throwing 14 interceptions. The Irish finished 8-5 for the second straight year after losing to Florida State in the Champs Sports Bowl as Rees was intercepted twice and sophomore Andrew Hendrix once.

John Gress/Getty ImagesBrian Kelly will have to choose between four QB’s vying to be the starter this season.

This spring, the Irish have another quarterback derby on their hands involving juniors Rees and Hendrix, redshirt freshman Everett Golson and true freshman Gunner Kiel – ESPN’s No. 3-rated QB in the 2012 class.

Whoever wins the job will not only be counted on to produce but also to help solve Notre Dame’s biggest problem in 2011 - turnovers.

The Irish committed 29 turnovers in 2011, only outdone by nine teams in the bowl subdivision. Things were even worse in the red zone where Notre Dame turned the ball over seven times, second only to SMU in the FBS.

The quarterbacks who played (Rees, Crist and Hendrix) were responsible for 23 of the 29 turnovers (17 interceptions and six fumbles lost). Rees alone had 19 turnovers (14 interceptions, five fumbles lost).

Over the last five seasons, only six "BCS schools" had a worse red-zone turnover percentage than Notre Dame’s 5.5 percent. Only one team in the last five seasons had a worse red-zone turnover percentage and finished with a better record: 2009 Nebraska, which featured Ndamukong Suh and one of the best defenses in recent college football history.

If the Irish quarterbacks don’t take better care of the football and play more efficiently, it could be another disappointing season in South Bend.

US Presswire/Matt CashoreCierre Wood (with ball) will be a player to watch in tonight's Citrus Bowl

Two of college football’s most prestigious programs may not have had the best of seasons, but both have significant reasons for wanting to win today’s Champs Sports Bowl matchup (ESPN, 5:30 ET).

Here’s a closer look at this matchup:

It’s the first meeting between the two storied programs since 2003 (a 37-0 win by FSU in South Bend). This is their second bowl meeting.

The first bowl meeting came in the Orange Bowl on January 1, 1996 when Florida State rallied from a 26-14 fourth-quarter deficit by scoring 17 points in the final 9:47 of the game for a 31-26 victory.

Overall, Florida State leads the series 4-2.

Florida State is 7-0-2 all-time in games played in Orlando. One of those games is a 23-16 win over Notre Dame on November 12, 1994. This is the Seminoles’ second appearance in the Champs Sports Bowl. They defeated Wisconsin 42-13 in the 2008 edition.

Keys to the Matchup
The biggest battle in this game will be Notre Dame rushing the football against one of the best run defenses in the country.

Florida State holds opponents to 2.3 yards per rush (fewest in FBS) because it does not allow opponents to gain yards in chunks.

Fewer than a quarter of Florida State opponents’ rushes gain five or more yards. The Seminoles have only allowed 104 rushes of at least five yards out of 423 attempts.

The Irish, led by Cierre Wood (1,042 yards) and Jonas Gray (791), rank 20th among FBS schools in yards per carry, netting just over five yards per rush. In fact, the team gains at least five yards on 43 percent of its rushes, the sixth-best rate among FBS schools.

Notre Dame will have to take care of the football. The Irish enter the game fifth-worst in the FBS in turnover margin, with a minus-13 turnover differential. Much of that is attributable to quarterback Tommy Rees, who has thrown 12 interceptions and lost five fumbles. In the past eight games, they've trimmed that differential to minus-3.

This will be the third bowl game and second start for Florida State QB E.J. Manuel. Manuel is 28-for-39 for 273 yards in two previous bowl appearances, with one touchdown throw and no interceptions.

Over the past four games, Manuel has thrown 83 passes and not thrown an interception.

Manuel’s success at throwing the long pass could be significant in this contest. In the three Seminoles losses in which he played, he was 1-for-12 with two interceptions when throwing the ball at least 20 yards downfield.

In his other games, he is 13-for-29 on pass attempts of at least 20 yards, with six touchdowns and one interception.

Stats of the Game
Florida State is appearing in a bowl game for the 30th consecutive season, the longest active streak in FBS (though the NCAA does not recognize FSU’s 2006 Emerald Bowl).

Brian Kelly is trying to become the first coach in Notre Dame history to win bowl games in each of his first two seasons there.

Keep in mind, the Fighting Irish did not play in a bowl from the 1926-68 seasons because of a self-imposed bowl ban.