Originally posted on Fox Sports Detroit
By STEVE KORNACKI  |  Last updated 9/8/13
ANN ARBOR, Mich. Every Notre Dame quarterback leaves a legacy. As a senior who threw for 314 yards Saturday night but came up short in a 41-30 loss to the University of Michigan, Tommy Rees is running out of time to make a positive lasting impression. His legacy just might end up being that he was hard to love. Despite scoring 30 points against what was expected to be a pretty strong defense, Fighting Irish coach Brian Kelly chose to point to the offense and Rees for the failure to win this game. Kelly didnt complain a bit about the two close pass interference calls against his defense that cost Notre Dame a legitimate chance at pulling out this game. And he didnt come down hard on a defense that surrendered 41 points and 460 yards total offense. This was a game where the offense had to carry the day for us, Kelly said. And we were unable to come up with the plays offensively. When asked again about the choice of faulting his offense rather than his defense, Kelly said, It doesnt mean our defense isnt good. Its just that we went up against a quarterback who made a lot of plays. I just think we missed opportunities to score in the red zone. In other words, Rees could not keep pace with Michigan dual-threat Devin Gardner. Rees does not have the feet of Gardner, but he might be a bit more polished as a passer. Still, he couldnt find a way to polish off the Wolverines. He did plenty of good things firing off key completions just before getting planted into the ground by Wolverines defenders on a few occasions and threw two touchdowns to keep the Fighting Irish in the game played before an NCAA record crowd of 115,109. However, Rees threw two interceptions and one of them very likely determined the outcome because it put Michigan in control. Wolverines ball hawk Blake Countess jumped a pass route with 1:29 remaining in the first half to pick off Rees. And so instead of Notre Dame driving for a touchdown to tie the score, Michigan took the ball and drove for a touchdown that provided a two-touchdown lead. Rees second pickoff, again by Countess but this time on a tipped pass, came when the Irish were in desperation mode. But an over-thrown pass in the end zone to T.J. Jones on fourth-and-four at the Michigan 17-yard line early in the fourth quarter took points off the board at a critical juncture. (Rees) did some good things, Kelly said. But a couple of things couldve put 44 points on the board for us. It was close, but not good enough. And as for those two critical pass interference calls? Weve got to be smarter and more disciplined as a defense, Kelly said. We dont coach penalties. I do not want my team in a position where a games decided in that regard. Kelly insisted it came down to the offense. He expected a high-scoring game and termed Gardner a very difficult quarterback to defend, while maintaining that his quarterback couldve pulled it out. Kelly blamed the inability to take advantage of those red zone opportunities on Rees throwing to the wrong receivers. And Rees, to his credit, would not be baited by questions about his coach faulting the offense in a game in which 71 points were scored. There were a number of missed opportunities and throws you want back, Rees said. Ive got to be better and I take full accountabilityWe left some points on the board. Rees might have moved into sixth place in school passing yardage, pushing his total to 5,073, but there will end up being a dozen or more quarterbacks remembered with more reverence by the schools subway alumni. Joe Montana was the Golden Dome standard, ladling in chicken soup at halftime to lead an improbable Cotton Bowl win and the hearts of Irish fans. Paul Hornung, John Huarate, Johnny Lujack and Angelo Bertelli won the Heisman Trophy. Joe Theismann changed the pronunciation of his last name to rhyme with Heisman, but never won it despite being better than probably each of the Notre Dame quarterbacks who did win it. And, of course, Ron Powlus didnt win a single Heisman after Beano Cook predicted he would win two. Brady Quinn, Jimmy Clausen, Steve Beuerlein and Rick Mirer also gained fame in quarterbacking the most publicized college football program in the land. Rees, who was in trouble with the law in an off-campus incident two years ago and sat behind Everett Golson during the 12-1 season of 2012, still has 10 games left to leave a positive legacy. But for now, hes the quarterback whos hard to love. NIGHT MOVES: This was the 109th night game for Notre Dame. The first one was in a place near and dear to the hearts of Detroit Tigers fans. The Irish beat the University of Detroit, 48-6, at Briggs Stadium on Oct. 5, 1951. Notre Dame is 69-38-2 at night.
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