Jun 062012

Welcome to Round 3 of a scheduled 5 between Team Rees, represented by Tyler Moorehead, and Team Golson , represented by Steve Herring. Learn a little more about Tyler in Sunday’s Press Release. Our names link to Twitter accounts … so go follow us.

Basic Rules:

  1. Tommy is eligible for all games in 2012.
  2. It’s boxing themed so this series will feature two men in the ring (sorry Hendrix & Kiel fans, but it’s a long summer and we haven’t forgotten about you. Grab some popcorn and enjoy the carnage.)
  3. Two “Burning Question” per round, ten questions total. The “teams” have been asked to keep answers in the 350-450 word range, but it won’t be too strictly enforced.
  4. This is NOT a roundtable. Tyler & myself won’t be going back and forth, but rather answering the questions independently. As Mike Lee told us about his opponent on ESPN’s Friday Night Fights this week“It’s not about him. It’s about me.”
  5. You (readers, fans) are the judges. Post a scorecard, throw in the towel, declare a winner, complain that it’s neither of these guys, tell us we’re idiots. Whatever, but please share below.

QUESTION #5:  Rees has struggled with turnovers his entire career. Golson has never taken a college snap. Who would do a better job of protecting the ball in 2012?

Steve Herring (Team Golson): Remember in Round 1 where Tyler used the 2009 statistics of Cincinnati QBs Tony Pike & Zach Collaros to prove a point for Team Rees? Digging back into those stats is where we can mine a defense of how Everett Golson, as a first year sophomore starter, could turn the ball over less than even a much improved Tommy Rees. I’ll stick to observing how these two could compare in 2012 interceptions AND I’ll give Tommy the benefit of the doubt by claiming he’ll improve dramatically. Stick with me on the numbers he folks.

Rees interception numbers in 2011 – 14 INTs in 411 attempts. An interception every 29.4 attempts as a sophomore, every 20.5 as a freshman. Let’s say he makes that 9 pass jump again to an interception every 38.5 attempts. We need to also project how many passes he’ll throw. In 2011 (discounting Stanford’s injury/benching) Tommy averaged 33.17 Passes/Game and in 2009 Pike averaged 38.6 Passes/Game so we’ll meet in the middle for 2012’s projection: 35.88 Passes/Game.

    • 13 Games x 35.88 Passes/Game = 466 Pass Attempts in 2012
    • 466 Pass Attempts ÷ 38.5 Attempts Per INT = 12.1 INTs
    • With a MAJOR improvement, Tommy will have 12 Interceptions in 2012

Pike likely started over the electric Zach Collaros upon return from injury because he was throwing an INT every 62 Pass Attempts, which reflects decision-making as much Brian Kelly’s trust in his knowledge of the playbook.

We’ve given Tommy credit for a major 2012 improvement and we’re handicapping Golson with the INTs/Attempt behind Rees’s rather dismal 2011. The difference is that Everett Golson will not be running an offense even similar to Rees and 2009 Cincinnati tells us so. In Zach Collaros’s 2009 starts (when he was a TRUE SOPHOMORE with no experience) he attempted 26.5 Passes/Game during his 4-0 run. Collaros, under Brian Kelly mind you, tallied per game rushing averages of 11 attempts for 48 Yards/Game. Golson will be running an offense similar, if not identical, in Rush/Pass/Option ratios. If this holds true, his INT total calculates as follows:

  • 13 Games x 26.5 Passes/Game = 344 Passing Attempts in 2012
  • 344 Passing Attempts ÷ 29.5 Attempts Per INT = 11.6 INTs
  • In a poor season by Everett Golson he would have 11.6 INTs in 2012

I couldn’t have been more generous to Tommy Rees while being bullish on Golson with these numbers and he still falls behind. Do we have our first standing 10 count?

Tyler Moorehead (Team Rees): I would say that turnovers would be about a wash between the two quarterbacks.

Tommy will likely improve upon his 14 interceptions thrown last season (I say likely because he threw one INT every 29 passes last season, which he improved from every 20 in 2010, so he is already trending up), but will still throw his fair share due to his tendency to take risks. But that is okay. People forget that Andrew Luck threw 10 interceptions last year and Landry Jones threw a whopping 15! Tommy Rees is never going to be the super passive game manager that some want him to be. He is going to try and make plays, and yes, sometimes he will get burned for taking a chance. But he is a natural leader, and very confident in his abilities. This is what allows him to have the ice-water in his veins that we have seen on many occasions already. The fact that Brian Kelly completely opens up the offense for him shows the confidence he has in his signal-caller.

Everett Golson stepping in is much more speculative. The hunch here is that his turnover margin would be about the same as Tommy Rees’. I think the offense that Golson would run would be significantly limited in order to take pressure off of a first-time starter, so he would not take nearly as many chances as Tommy would. That being said, you can count ANY new quarterback to have some absolutely mind-boggling hiccups (see: Andrew Hendrix’s inexplicable INT against FSU for an example. Young guys just do ridiculously nonsensical things).

All in all, I think that they would both post similar numbers when it comes to turnovers, but Rees would be much more productive moving the ball due to his freedom to run the entire offense, and his experience doing so in the past. Tommy certainly has a bit of a risk side to him, but his reward side this year is just so much higher.


QUESTION #6: Many observers believe Brian Kelly would like to mold his ND offense closer to Oregon’s high-powered “Blur Attack”. The 2012 offseason has others believing what the 2011 New England Patriots did with Slot WRs/RBs and more importantly their TEs are the future of the scheme.
Which of these two QBs are better prepared to manage the most important aspects of these philosophies?

Steve Herring (Team Golson): Of course we’d love to see Notre Dame’s offense implement facets of the most explosive teams in FBS & the NFL. Possibly more crucial, we’d like to see more of what actually makes these schemes successful – constant evolving to reflect personnel. Chip Kelly and Bill Belicheck are as good as any coach at any level of maximizing their own talent and exposing opponent’s weaknesses. Notre Dame’s 2012 personnel strengths would certainly compare favorably to those of the Ducks & Patriots in 2011.

Brian Kelly has told us since Day 1 that he wants his offensive tempo to be fast, with rapid turns of the play clock and little regard for time of possession. Oregon scored 46.1 Points/Game in 2011 despite opponents winning time of possession by 10 full minutes last season . We don’t have the space to dissect how the Ducks operate, but a tenet of their offense revolves around the threat of the option and QB draw. Blog Davie at SubwayDomer.com used some coach’s clinic notes to indicate how simple, instant reads by the QB can be made at the line of scrimmage to strike quickly and efficiently. With Rees at QB, as mentioned previously, he simply can’t check into the best play on occasion because he can’t run the ball. I think 2011 Duck QB Darron Thomas is a fantastic measuring stick for Everett Golson. Thomas (like Golson appears to be) preferred to pass and utilized the threat of run in order to open up throwing lanes and simplify reads on every play. When Thomas ran the option he was able to take a defender out of the play despite only keeping the ball on occasion. Thomas averaged 3.7 Yards/Rush on less than 5 carries/game, but his natural athletic abilities changed everything defenses could do. Need I mention he was a SOPHOMORE FIRST YEAR STARTER AT QB who played in the National Championship Game?

Many would point to the latest installment of the Patriot’s offense as a byproduct of losing All-Time great WR Randy Moss and focusing on a far more talented TE/RB/Slot depth chart … wait a second. Great opportunity to remind that Everett’s much stronger arm applies to RB swing screens, quick slants and TE verticals. Tom Brady gets the ball out rapidly with fantastic zip – key to manipulating mismatches behind and in front of the line of scrimmage. Golson’s power and touch enhances the offense’s ability to get into these plays more efficiently. I’ve hammered it already, but Rees allows defenses to pack the box, where RB/TE/Slots make their living. Less zip on the ball plus tighter passing windows will always make plays more difficult to execute. You’ll see it better when Eifert & Niklas are catching balls with no defender in sight on a weekly basis. Trust me.

Tyler Moorehead (Team Rees): This is such a cop-out, but Kelly’s ideal offense is a combination of both. There is no doubt that Kelly would like to push the pace, tire out the opposing team, and move so fast that defenses are unable to sub. But Coach Kelly also is a huge fan of size and mismatches, and our tight end stable is so stocked that they MUST be a focal point of the offense this season.

Tyler Eifert is far and away the most talented offensive player that the Irish have this season, and Ben Koyack, Alex Welch, and Troy Niklas form quite the squad of back-ups. There is just too much talent in that group to not put multiple TE’s on the field at the same time.

As far as the Slot WRs/RBs, both the New England and Oregon style offenses use them similarly. They utilize smaller, quicker players that can get in space. Their big plays are created by elusiveness and shiftiness, but they aren’t really looking for the big play. They instead prefer repeated, quick strikes that keep moving the chains, which they both demonstrated can be lethal.

However, Notre Dame would have to play more similarly to the Patriots. Our offensive line isn’t even remotely built for a blur offense. A team like Oregon uses much smaller linemen than we have, for they need to be extra mobile with all the pulling and extra movement that the offense requires. The Irish have some seriously big boys on the line that don’t often say no to seconds at the training table. They aren’t meant to run downfield the same way that a blur offense linemen would.

Notre Dame is looking mainly for pocket passing from their quarterback, and this is unquestionably Rees’ strength. He is very effective at making reads and scanning the field, and he has already shown that he has fantastic chemistry with Eifert. Also, a very underrated part of Tommy’s game is his ability to make checks and audibles at the line in the running game. How many times last year did Tommy switch to a third down running play when he saw the defense was going to drop 7 or 8 players back into coverage on him? A hell of a lot. When you consider that Notre Dame is going to use a ton of jumbo packages this year, this is a crucial ability to have. Tommy Rees is so much better prepared to run the offense right now.

(Bell Rings – End of Round 3.)

Please continue judging the rounds for yourself below. It’s looking like it will go the full five.


Steve Herring is the Editor-in-Chief of HerringBoneSports.com and also hosts TNNDN’s Down the Line. As the TNNDN Network President he acts as Executive Producer of four Notre Dame related shows.
Steve worked in broadcasting at Madison Square Garden Media and the Arena Football League. You can find all his articles and radio show links on this site.
Contact Steve on Twitter @HB_Sports or e-mail HerringBoneSports@gmail.com

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  18 Responses to “Tommy Rees v. Everett Golson Round 3: Notre Dame Football QB Debate Staggers On”

  1. I reject the premise – entirely – that Tommy Rees will automatically improve this year, just because he’s a year older. His worst game of his ND career might have been the bowl game where he personally lost any semblance of poise and judgment, neither of which he had in great quantities to begin with. His 2nd worst game was the game just before that against Stanford. (Still waiting for him to reach the goal line on that “sprint”)

    So he has 3 months to sit, ponder, reflect, watch film and listen to Kelly harp on the need to take care of the ball and use better judgment. Naturally he’ll come out a changed man in Spring, right? All grown up, not throw into triple coverage, the game will slow down for him, check us into the right plays, blah blah.


    He actually looked WORSE. Said in a post game interview “If that pass was 3 inches lower you wouldn’t be asking me that question” (about his INT). Well Tommy, it wasn’t 3 inches lower. And that comment itself shows an amount of petulance and immaturity that just isn’t needed at the QB position.

    I hope this issue of Tommy starting is decided by the Indiana Judicial system, because frankly I don’t trust Kelly to do the right thing here.

  2. Safe to say the projections you have provided reflect on Andrew Hendrix as well? I thought so. Hendrix compares better to Collaros better anyways like the Rees guy pointed out. Collaros is bigger than Golson and ran dudes over, like Hendrix can.

    At leas the Golson guy is showing why Hendrix will succeed. I think Kiel is also closer to Colaros than Golson is. Kiel looked like a bull on some blue and gold highlights. Golson might be an athlete, but he’s not running anybody over. Kiel’s arm is probably stronger too and at 6’3” can see and get those balls to Eifert and Niklas better than anyone. Anyways, not much else out there in ND stuff so this is interesting.

  3. Tommy should improve some man. It’s still all about Hendrix and Tommy should be the solid back-up who we can kind of trust.

  4. Tommy SHOULD have played better in the B&G game, don’t you think?
    There are all sorts of “shoulds”. Reality has been something quite different.

  5. Hendrix is not a BCS caliber QB. He IS a BCS caliber athlete though. I say move him to safety after this year.
    He has almost no vision and tries to throw the ball right through defenders. We’ve all seen it multiple times.

    Has to stay at QB this year for depth purposes. After that, move him to safety. I think he has the size, speed and love of contact to be an All American there.

  6. That was the point of my research Nude! How do you not love that in your anti-Tommy defense?

    “Tommy makes huge improvement, Golson plays poorly in passing game … still has fewer INTs”

    and obviously now wins in every single other in-play faction. We have the tools to judge what Kelly might do with Golson (or Hendrix) and it shows that Tommy just isn’t the right decision.

  7. Well I’m not a Tommy supporter. Dude was clearly focused on spring ball being the fuck over and getting over to some house party for some brews.

    Tommy is almost the ideal back-up in college. If he comes in with a 7 point lead I’m not petrified. He comes in down by 7 I think there’s a chance. I just don’t want him for four quarters.

  8. Bone,
    you’ve always been a little more measured and level headed than me on this topic. So I wasn’t 100% sure where you stood on this.

    To me, it is an indication of how far ND had fallen that Tommy Rees became a starting QB. I still don’t get the Dayne Crist benching, especially in favor of this guy. And I don’t get the trepidation of playing someone else. His use of AH last year, 2 plays here/3 plays there, then the bench for 2 games was ridiculous.

    On a scale of 10 my confidence in Tommy leading this team to anything better than what we’ve seen so far is a 1. As far as BK’s ability to ween himself off the Tommy Rees blankie without the help of ResLife or the Indiana Judicial system, that’s about a 2.

    Seriously, if he starts in Dublin I’ll have big concerns over BK’s judgment and my confidence in him will significantly slip.

  9. I dont understand where we’re getting the notion that Tommy can run Kelly’s “complete offense” when he cant even jog lightly to gain 1/2 a yard on any given play. Golson baby!

  10. I am level-headed on the Rees/Crist stuff. BK made the tough call that Rees gave the team a better chance in 2011 and he rode and died with it. Like I always like to point out – We see 1-2% of what the coaching staff sees and once a guy steps between the lines I am ALL IN with that guy. Parts of this fan base root against ND players/coaches to ride their own agenda. If BK makes the Rees call in Dublin, I’m all in with Rees immediately.

    Rees starting I found to be more of a product of missing a QB in the recruiting cycle that left the gap. Good programs bring in 1-2 year and sort it out on the practice field. When you miss, you get an injury and a true freshman who would normally never start in the game.

    I don’t think Rees is a security blanket in that BK is scared to NOT have him, maybe just that he shows BK amazing consistency in practice/film study that he’s convinced he’ll get the Irish into the best play a higer percentage of the time which he values more. In June I’ll post on my site that I strongly disagree with that notion.

  11. Nude, are you seriously writing off Hendrix as a potential BCS QB because you saw him struggle in the first two real appearances of his college career? That’s one hell of an insane snap judgment.

  12. First, I’m entitled to my opinion and because it conflicts with yours doesn’t make it “insane”.

    Second, I’m taking everything into account including the fact that this is major college, win-now football and there aren’t 4 – 5 years (or even 1-2) to teach someone how to play QB. Window of oppty is short for everyone, especially at a place like ND where you have 4 and 5 star recruits nipping at your heels.

    So given that, yes, absolutely. I’ve seen just enough of Hendrix to say that while I think he’s athletically gifted, he’s NOT the answer at QB in terms of being an every down, 4 quarter type player. If you’re looking for a change of pace guy to come in, run a few plays, give the defense something else to prepare for, occasionally take a shot downfield … then he’s he’s your guy.

    He looks nervous and overly amped up to me; and he DEFINITELY lacks field vision. After I’d come to that conclusion I saw an interview where Chuck Martin said exactly that. I’m not a QB coach but I think vision is one of those intangibles that you tend to either have or not have; not so sure it can be taught.

    I’ve seen 3 instances of him throwing ridiculous INTs, each being a 10-12 yard pass right at one of 2 or 3 DBs who were between him and his receiver. It was like he was trying to throw the ball THROUGH them, or just made up his mind coming out of the huddle that he was going to make that throw regardless of if the guy was covered. Ready/Fire/Aim.

  13. There’s a reason people that are paid to cover this team think Hendrix is the starting QB this year. It’s because they’re gonna let him go out and rip it unhinged.

    It’s huge that he’s a bigger body and can run people over and get the ball over the top. Hendrix to Davaris Daniels all game bitches.

  14. Marcus
    Seems to me that about 90% of the people covering the Irish for a living think it will be Golson or (God forbid) Rees. Very few say Hendrix. I certainly don’t see him as the starter or – my opinion aside – the favorite.

    And if you know anything about BK’s approach to QB’ing at ND, especially after Rees threw 100 INTs last year you should know he’s not going to let ANYONE go out there and “rip it, unhinged”. Anyone behind center will be on a short leash.

  15. It’s Year 3 for Hendrix. If he can’t go out there and do all the shit we’ve heard he can do – run LBs over, throw 60 yard cannons, option and get the ball to our gigantic TEs then he shouldn’t be playing. He deserves the chance to run a full offense without looking over his shoulder at a guy who shouldn’t be considered to hold his jockstrap.

  16. I approve this message. He can not check into good plays because of his limitations. It limits the entire playbook. Good call Shane.

  17. He “deserves” the chance if he can beat out the other guys. Period.

    He hasn’t proven to me or the coaching staff or others who watch the program closely that he’s earned anything yet. He’s uniquely gifted athletically, but by itself that means nothing. If he can’t read defenses (which is basically what field vision refers to) and hasn’t mastered the playbook (which is what they say) then he doesn’t deserve a fucking thing. I don’t care how much he can run guys over or how strong his arm is. If he’s throwing bullets to the wrong team, I’m not impressed.

    If the season started tomorrow and Rees is on the team, I’d guess the depth chart would be Golson, Rees, Hendrix, Kiel. And if Rees isn’t there (we can only hope) then Hendrix will of course be # 2.

  18. We’re gonna find out soon enough that Hendrix is good enough to hold it down for 1-2 years while we get Kiel ready. Hendrix coud get us to a BCS game in 2013 for sure maybe a rotation with Gunner like Tebow/Leak but reveresed kinda.

    He ain’t moving to safety brosef.

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