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Abysmal: A Tommy Rees Offense

Written by Liam Gaudet, Senior Editor


Photo By Fox News


I am officially at my wits end with the offensive production at the hands of Tommy Rees. Although there are many issues with this team right now, no other is greater than the lack of results being produced by the supposed offensive guru. After two solid weeks of production, the offense took all of the built up momentum and threw it directly into the trash can. Poor play? Yes. Poor scheming? You bet. Lets unmask the ugly truth and get to the root of the problem together.


Here's a statistic that's awfully puzzling. Notre Dame's offensive line outweighs Stanford's defensive line by an average factor of 1.2. That means the average Notre Dame offensive lineman weighs about 315 pounds, while in comparison, the average weight of a Stanford defensive lineman is 260 pounds. Nevermind the supposed talent gap which heavily favors Notre Dame, you would figure that statistic alone should give Notre Dame a substantial advantage in the trenches. In theory, this would be absolutely correct. In practice, however, Notre Dame was flat out humiliated up front once again, with a pitiful first half performance which saw the offense muster barely 100 total yards and zero points. So with all the up-front advantages pointed toward Notre Dame, how is it possible that they couldn't move the ball on the ground? Maybe it's because this offense is so predictable, a monkey could decipher the play calls coming on first and second down. Tommy Rees believes in beating a dead horse to establish a running game that is clearly dead in the water. The pre-snap motions weren't fooling anybody, let alone the Stanford defense. 90% of the time on first down, it was a run up the middle for minimal gain, if any at all. Instead of realizing that this clearly wasn't working, Rees continually decided to try and establish this despite it failing time and time again. So the first issue without a shadow of a doubt was the sheer lack of creativity and willingness to change and adapt to what was going on.


If you're so insistent on playing smash-mouth football, maybe you would consider using your smash-mouth, hard running back for the majority of those runs to give you a physical advantage and wear down the opposing defense? No, because that would make too much sense. Audric Estime saw only two carries in the first half, with one of them being a hard fought run on a fourth down. Instead, Rees opted to use Chris Tyree, a speed back, for the majority of inside run attempts. That makes absolutely no sense. If you want to run an offensive scheme from 1920, at least have the right personnel in the game to give it a fighting chance. Speaking of having the right personnel, Tobias Merriweather earned himself some playing time this week, and took full advantage by getting open deep twice in the second half. The first time, Pyne overthrew an easy touchdown, and the second, Merriweather hauled in his first career catch and subsequent touchdown of his Notre Dame career. It has been blatantly obvious that he is a dynamic playmaker, but the staff opted to give him zero snaps, let alone targets after his touchdown in the third quarter. Why? Only Tommy Rees has the answer to that question, though I have little to no faith that it was the right decision. In no world does Merriweather deserve less playing time than Braden Lenzy or Matt Salerno. No slight to any of the student athletes, but they just aren't cutting it, plain and simple. It's a travesty to the brand that Rees hasn't been able to recognize this, despite outcry from the fanbase for weeks on end.


On the off chance that we do decide to adapt to the modern, fancy idea of throwing a forward pass, it too, is entirely too predictable. Any opposing coach for the rest of the season knows that if you cover Michael Mayer, the Notre Dame passing attack is irrelevant. Time and time again, after being forced into third and long situations thanks to the telegraphed first and second down runs, Michael Mayer is targeted on third and long to no avail in double coverage. Some of the blame goes to Drew Pyne here, but Rees is the one calling plays where Mayer is the primary target. Don't you think the other team will catch on at some point? If the fanbase can see it, there's no way professional football coaches making millions of dollars won't. Why is it so hard to scheme plays with the receivers being the primary targets? Why can't we adapt to what isn't working? My faith in the play calling was hanging by a thread heading into this week, but now it's unsalvageable. I wince every time the ball is snapped because my fear of predicting the play is often correct.


My hopes had risen only to be sent plummeting back to reality last night. As far as I'm concerned, Tommy Rees is now calling plays to save his job. Forget leaving for the NFL, how about you breathe some life back into an offense that is too predictable, out of date, and can't score on one of the worst ranked defenses in the country. Even if we have a bounce back game against UNLV, it won't be because of adaptation. Rees has had years to evolve into a new scheme and has proven that he's stuck in his ways. I fear more losses are on the horizon unless a drastic change is made on that side of the football.



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