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Enough is Enough: It's Time to Talk About Rees


📷 credit: Chad Weaver

Irish fans were left dumbfounded as they watched Notre Dame lose its third game of the season to Stanford last Saturday. Outside of the North Carolina game, Notre Dame’s offense has been abysmal so far this season. According to ncaa.com, Notre Dame ranks 80th in total offense, while teams like Central Michigan, Buffalo, Troy, Ball St., and UAB rank ahead of them. On top of that, they rank outside the top 100 when it comes to scoring offense and passing offense, but their rushing offense ranks 51. Needless to say, this is not what Irish fans expected entering the 2022 college football season. Coach Freeman had this to say after last Saturday’s game…


“On offense, we've got to do a better job executing. We did a better job in the second half. I'm sure somebody's going to ask me what happened. But we've got to look at ourselves as coaches first and say, ‘okay, why didn't we execute the way we were supposed to, the way we wanted to, right?’ And then we've got to make sure we go and evaluate and find ways to make sure this doesn't happen.”


If Coach Freeman is serious about looking at his coaches, then he must take a long and hard look at his offensive coordinator, Tommy Rees. Outside of the North Carolina game, Rees has been a huge disappointment this season in putting together a championship-caliber offense. Excuses are plenty, but the issue appears to go much deeper than that. Let’s take a look at a few problems…


1. Poor Game Planning

Outside of the North Carolina game, the game plans on offense this year have been mediocre at best. At times, any casual fan recognizes that there appears to be no rhythm to the offense or any strategy to what this team is trying to accomplish. Through 6 games, no one can tell what the identity of this offense is, despite having plenty of playmakers.


2. Too Predictable

Coach Rees appears to telegraph what he is doing on offense much too often. Whether it be obvious formations, or continuing to frequently run on second down, this is a problem that defensive coordinators can adjust for in-game. Outside of Merriweather getting two attempts to catch a ball on Saturday night, the younger receivers are brought into the game to primarily run block. Defensive coordinators know that they do not need to take those receivers seriously and it causes more pressure on the intended receivers.


3. Unable to Maximize Players’ Strength’s/Weaknesses

Through the first two games, it was clear that Coach Rees did not know how to use Tyler Buchner effectively. Fans still do not know what type of offense this team was trying to run with Buchner in the game. This was a poor job of maximizing Buchner’s abilities as well as this offense's potential. There are numerous other examples of this as well:

  • Jayden Thomas running a sweep that someone with speed (Braden Lenzy or Chris Tyree) should be running.

  • Lorenzo Styles running fade routes when he does not do well at those.

  • Chris Tyree running up the middle like Estime instead of creating more space for him to effectively use his speed.

  • Throwing fade routes to shorter receivers instead of utilizing your younger, but taller receivers.

  • Playing two tight-end sets, but only targeting one of them.

The list goes on and on, but it’s clear that Rees is either not a good evaluator of talent, or he is unwilling to put his players in the best position to be successful


4. Poor Quarterback Development

Despite being this team’s quarterback coach for several years now, Rees has yet to develop a quality quarterback. Ian Book, Phil Jurkovec, Jack Coan, Tyler Buchner, and Drew Pyne have all regressed during their time at Notre Dame. Despite having a good game here or there, overall Rees has been unable to maximize each quarterback's strengths while at Notre Dame.

5. Extremely Uncreative

After having an entire week to scheme opening drives, Notre Dame continues to not be good at them. This is a problem that plagued Brian Kelly and continues to be a problem for Marcus Freeman. Time will tell if Freeman can change this, but history tells an interesting story…

📷 credit: God Country Irish

Despite Zaire’s limited data, he, Kizer, and Wimbush were the only quarterbacks to be somewhat successful on opening drives. Maybe it’s just a coincidence, but this period coincides with Rees not being part of the program and a few very dynamic quarterbacks. Through 6 games, Notre Dame has only scored 6 points in the first quarter this season.

Final Take

Irish fans are well aware of the fact that Rees was hired before Marcus Freeman, but it may be time to evaluate whether or not he can effectively coordinate a college offense. At this point, Notre Dame fans are quickly losing hope that Rees can accomplish this task and it may take a hard decision by Coach Freeman to correct this program. No matter your opinion of Tommy Rees, this may be one of the most pivotal coaching decisions in Marcus Freeman’s career at Notre Dame. Whatever the answer may be, Freeman must find answers and re-establish a winning culture at Notre Dame once again.


Go Irish!


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