College football: Tommy Rees, ND offense start fast in opener
By LaMond Pope firstname.lastname@example.org or 713-2691 August 31, 2013 11:24PM
Notre Dame quarterback Tommy Rees (11) drops back to throw a touchdown pass to DaVaris Daniels over Temple linebacker Jarred Alwan (14) during the first half of an NCAA college football game in South Bend, Ind., Saturday, Aug. 31, 2013. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Updated: October 2, 2013 6:55AM
SOUTH BEND — The first pass of the day went for 32 yards and a touchdown.
It turns out, Tommy Rees was just getting warmed up.
The senior quarterback finished with a career-high 346 passing yards in Notre Dame’s 28-6 victory against Temple.
Rees completed 16 of 23 passes. He had three touchdowns and no interceptions as the Irish cruised in their opener in front of 80,795 fans Saturday at Notre Dame Stadium.
“It was good enough to win the game,” Rees said of his performance. “We had some missed opportunities out there that we had to fix as an offense, but (I’m) pleased with how the entire offense played. We had some opportunities to take advantage of some big plays, which we did.”
Rees threw two touchdown passes of 32 yards to DaVaris Daniels. Rees also connected for a 66-yard touchdown to tight end Troy Niklas.
“Obviously, a lot of the questions coming in could we push the ball down the field,” Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said. “I think we answered a lot of those questions right away with his ability to push the ball down the field. I thought his patience was better and it will continue to get better.
“I was pleased with his performance, and he knows he can play better.”
Seven Notre Dame players had at least one catch. Wide receiver TJ Jones had six receptions for a career-high 138 yards. Daniels had three touchdowns for 69 yards and two touchdowns. He left the game in the second quarter with what Kelly termed a “slight groin” injury and did not return. It was a precautionary measure, according to Kelly.
The Irish had 543 yards of total offense.
“We had hoped he’d throw the ball to us once or twice, and he didn’t,” Temple coach Matt Rhule said. “He had maybe one overthrow.”
That sharpness was evident from the first pass, a 32-yard strike to Daniels. The play capped a three-play, 77-yard drive that only took 1 minute, 26 seconds.
Notre Dame’s next possession took just 1:01 and ended with another 32-yard touchdown from Rees to Daniels.
“To get early leads is great for the team morale,” Rees said.
Temple’s only score came on a 1-yard run by Kenny Harper with 1:01 left in the first half. Temple hurt itself by missing two field goals earlier in the first half.
The Irish responded quickly to Temple’s touchdown. Rees hit Niklas over the middle and the tight end rumbled for a 66-yard score to give the Irish a 21-6 lead at half. Temple stalled at Notre Dame’s 6 in the first drive of the second half.
“The two missed field goals were difficult for us,” Rhule said, “and as a result, (we) kind of tried to throw the green zone and the red zone later.”
The Owls never seriously threatened the rest of the day.
“We kind of slipped up there a little bit in the second quarter before Troy’s long score. We had some missed opportunities,” Rees said. “But I’m really proud of the way the guys kept chugging along, and didn’t let a couple of stalls get us down. We kept moving forward, and it worked out.”