Blue and Gold Illustrated

February 2020

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 5 of 47

6 FEBRUARY 2020 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED BY LOU SOMOGYI I n a move that caught no one by surprise, Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly confirmed two days be- fore the Camping World Bowl that third-year Fighting Irish quarter- backs coach Tom Rees would call the plays — filtered through Kelly— ver- sus Iowa State Dec. 28. Former offensive coordinator Chip Long (2017-19) and Kelly parted ways earlier during the month, leav- ing the play-caller role vacant. Kelly had indicated in the week thereafter that Rees would coordinate the pass- ing efforts and second-year running backs coach Lance Taylor the ground attack, but ultimately play-calling duties had to be handled by a singu- lar figure. Rees started 31 games at quarter- back under Kelly from 2010-13 and earned immense praise from the head coach for his football IQ — and a projection that he was headed to- ward an outstanding coaching ca- reer, plus the hope that he would soon return to Notre Dame after his graduation. Rees finished his Fighting Irish ca- reer with 7,670 career passing yards (third most), 61 touchdown passes (second most) and also 37 intercep- tions (third most). "It's pretty obvious that Tom is go- ing to call the plays," Kelly said. "I don't know that there's any secrets out there. There will be certainly col- laboration as there has been. "Tom will be in the box. He'll send the plays down through me — not that I'm going to be micro-managing what he's doing." In the 10 full practices prior to the bowl game Kelly indicated that throughout every session 15- to 20-minute windows were set aside where Rees would call unscripted plays. Unlike Long, who was on the sideline throughout his career, the 27-year-old Rees remained in the press box to make the calls. COACHING IN HIS BLOOD To Kelly, Rees' background as the son of a longtime football coach — his father, Bill, has been the director of scouting at Notre Dame since 2017 — and as a quarterback at this level provides an amount of knowledge with which he is comfortable. More and more the pattern in col- lege football, or even the NFL, has been to go with the 30- and even 20-somethings as an offensive co- ordinator, from 26-year-old Charlie Weis Jr. — yes, the son — getting hired in that role at the University of South Florida after a successful stint with head coach Lane Kiffin (now at Ole Miss) in that same capacity at Florida Atlantic, to then 29-year-old LSU passing game coordinator Joe Brady getting entrusted in that role prior to this season with the Tigers. "Everybody gets a first time. …We all had first times," Kelly said regard- ing Rees' inexperience in the play- calling capacity. "So what do you need to be prepared for that first time? UNDER THE DOME SNEAK PREVIEW? Quarterbacks coach Tommy Rees named play caller for Camping World Bowl The 27-year-old Rees received what amounts to an audition for the vacant offensive coordinator position at Notre Dame thanks in large part to his "great background" in college football. PHOTO BY MIKE MILLER

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of Blue and Gold Illustrated - February 2020