Rees to the Rescue, Regardless

Notre Dame moved to 2-0 for just the 12th time in the program's last 30 seasons, and one of Saturday's heroes performed well in an unusually hostile environment.

Maybe it was all part of a master plan?

Maybe after 10 home losses in their team's last 22 games inside the House that Rockne Built, Notre Dame's fair-weather, need-a-reason-to-stand fans thought that if they rooted against the team destined to win, it would automatically result in a score?

Hey, it worked recently in favor of Syracuse, Navy, Connecticut, and Tulsa, so why not recent pariah Tommy Rees?

Aside from such a collective moment of diabolical genius, its hard to fathom why a home crowd, the student body included, would boo an incomplete pass from their junior quarterback with the score tied at 17 and time winding down.

That's what happened when Tommy Rees' far sideline passed sailed wide, deep, and incomplete. That's what happened when Rees took the field in relief of the team's starter, an admittedly surprising development in the wake of 289 passing yards and 58 minutes of moxie from sophomore Everett Golson.

Granted, once Rees completed a 21-yarder to senior Robby Toma on 3rd and 10, roughly 20 seconds after his loudest chorus of boos echoed from above, those jeers predictably turned to cheers. And when Rees' 12 play, 55-yard drive was capped off by sophomore Kyle Brindza's chip-shot game-winning field goal, those same fans found a way to forgive Rees' transgressions.

No, not his well-publicized off-the-field sins last May - those are forgiven readily in South Bend, as Michael Floyd can attest and Cierre Wood will surely discover after his next sprint for six. But mortal sins such as fumbles and failure, or a comparatively weak arm coupled with lead feet, and of course the coup de grace, two losses in your last two starts - now those are worth ridicule from your classmates and Dr. Know-it-All in Section 28.

Neither Rees nor Golson were allowed to speak post-game, but its safe to assume Rees was happy for his teammates and his moment of redemption. I'll guess he remains indifferent to the fact a bunch of executives, biology majors, roofers, and yes, the oft-discussed ushers, found it fitting to boo his very presence before celebrating his success.

Co-Captain Zack Martin represented the offense at the post-game podium and offered the following of his home crowd's classless cacophony: "I don't agree with that at all. A guy like Tommy, it just fuels his fire. He's been through a lot. I'm so proud of him and so happy for him that he was able to answer the bell today and lead us down the field."

Maybe they should boo more often?

Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly found no fault with his myopic supporters.

"I'm so focused on what we're doing that I don't have time to deal with who's yelling my name," he said. "They yell my name a lot, too. I don't know if you new that. It usually doesn't end with a good adjective," he joked.

Had either of Rees' two contested throws ended up in the wrong hands rather than those of John Goodman's, or on the turf in front of an ill-timed leap by Troy Niklas, those adjectives would have rained interminably.

Instead, Rees directed his fourth go-ahead scoring drive in a late-game scenario since his first effort at such glory failed two seasons ago against Tulsa.

Fans booed that day, too, though that was more the result of a new coach's errant play call rather than an error by one of their supposedly beloved student-athletes.

"We're so focused on the game…our fans can do what they want to do," said Kelly. "We have great fans. Our students were great the other night at the pep rally, I think we had 15,000. I love our guys, how they represent us."

Its relevant to note there were no incomplete passes at Friday's pep rally, but I digress….

Rest easy Irish fans, Rees won't start against Michigan State, nor should he. Golson is the quarterback of the future, at least until you deem him unworthy as well, which if Notre Dame's offensive line performs next week as it did today, will be around 10:15 p.m. East Lansing time.

Rees ultimately played a small but noteworthy role in Saturday's win. Thankfully the nation's most ineffective home field partisans finally came up big.

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