Rees was also good last season against Tulsa after Crist to hurt. He put up big numbers in that game _ 33 of 54 for 334 yards with four TD passes _ but also threw a last-second interception in a tough loss.
Going to Michigan’s massive 100,00-plus seat stadium will be another stop at a marquee venue for Rees. The sophomore started games last season at Notre Dame Stadium, Yankee Stadium and the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. He also started the Sun Bowl victory over Miami.
If Rees is productive, it’s his job to keep.
“Nobody wants to go in and change their quarterbacks each and every week. That’s just not the way you play this game,” Kelly said.
“So we don’t come to this decision thinking, `Well, he’ll give us one game and then we’ll go back to Dayne.’ That’s obviously not why we made this decision. We believe that Tommy is capable of leading this football team, just as I believed strongly that Dayne is capable.”
Crist did some good things in the first half when the Irish fell behind against USF 16-0, Kelly said. A long opening drive was stymied by Jonas Gray’s fumble near the goal line, and a TD run by Cierre Wood was called back by a holding penalty just before Crist threw an interception in the end zone.
But Crist didn’t make his decisions quick enough Saturday and there too many mistakes, certainly not all of his making.
“You know, it wasn’t all Dayne Crist,” Kelly said. “Unfortunately it falls on the quarterback as the leader to be productive. That’s why we went with the decision. …I’m not here to cover Dayne’s butt, OK? That’s not by job. … The difference between being good and great sometimes is being decisive. You know, not whether you can process and understand, but decisiveness.”
Rees, an early enrollee last year, hails from a football family. His dad has an extensive background in coaching and personnel in both the NFL and college ranks, and his brother was a punter and holder at UCLA.
He actually made his college debut last season against Michigan when Crist was shaken up in the first half. Rees threw two passes, one of them intercepted, and was obviously not ready for the stage at that time and was quickly yanked in favor of Nate Montana.
Now he’s relaxed and able to keep cool when he’s in the game or on the sideline.
“Obviously it’s been a pretty up and down couple of weeks,” Rees said. “When I found out Dayne would be the guy, obviously I was disappointed, but at the same time excited for him. He deserved it. … Now I’m getting my chance, he’s been the same way to me. It’s such a good relationship.”