Tommy Rees to Start for Irish against Michigan

After replacing starting quarterback, Dayne Crist in the second half of Saturday’s humiliating loss to South Florda, Sophmore Tommy Rees will get the start against Michigan this Saturday night.

Rees lost the starting quarterback battle to Crist this offseason, but he knew his chance to be the starter at Notre Dame would come. His chance is now.

“We try to live in the now,” Kelly said ealier this week during a  news conference. “The ‘now’ for me is winning football games. Tommy Rees gives us the best chance.”

It will be the fifth career start for the sophomore quarterback and it will take place during the first night game in Michigan Stadium, also known as “The Big House”. However, this challenge of playing under the lights at Michigan does not intimidate the young quarterback. After replacing the injured Crist last season, Rees led Notre Dame to victories at Yankee Stadium and the Los Angeles Coliseum.

“As far as an approach goes, not much changes,” Rees said. “You work hard every week regardless of if you’re going to be the guy or not. The mentality and approach doesn’t really change from week to week.”

Crist completed just 7 of 15 passes for 95 yards and one interception in the first half of a marathon, weather-addled 23-20 defeat to South Florida.

Rees, a Lake Forest High School grad, took over in the second half and threw for 296 yards and two scores with two interceptions. Those numbers essentially put him in position to start this weekend.

“He knows what I told him — you have to be productive,” Kelly said. “If you’re not productive, you should be looking over your shoulder.”

His first college pass, actually, came against Michigan last season after Crist had been knocked woozy and out of the game. It wound up being an interception, which Rees not-so-fondly recalled as his “welcome to college football moment.”

Rees then took over after Crist suffered a season-ending knee injury in late October of 2010. He led the team to four straight victories including wins over ranked Utah, rival Southern California and Miami. The win against Miami came in the Sun Bowl, where Rees threw for 201 yards and two touchdowns.

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