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Notre Dame’s Kelly says QB Rees expected to practice Tuesday

Updated: October 20, 2013 7:27PM



Notre Dame managed only two first downs after quarterback Tommy Rees left in the third quarter of its victory Saturday against USC with a strained neck.

Two.

Coach Brian Kelly said Rees was sore but felt better Sunday. Rees’ status is day-to-day, and Kelly said he expects him to be available for practice Tuesday. The Irish visit Air Force on Saturday.

‘‘He’s got to have at least a couple of practice days where he’s leading the offense,’’ Kelly said during a teleconference Sunday. ‘‘We had this situation with Everett [Golson] a couple of times [last season]. I’ve had it in times past where the quarterback really needs to get in a rhythm out there. We’re not at a point where we can afford to just roll out there on Saturday. He’s going to need a couple of days of practice.’’

Rees was 14-for-21 for 166 yards and two touchdowns in the 14-10 victory against the Trojans. He left after being sacked with 9:16 to play in the third quarter.

‘‘We liked the way [Rees] played,’’ Kelly said. ‘‘We thought we had the kind of mix that we wanted. We were running some tempo, some play-action. We ran the ball, made some throws under duress, the things that we were looking for him to improve on after the Arizona State game. He had done the things exactly the way we had scripted them early in the game.’’

Andrew Hendrix played the rest of the game and was 0-for-4 passing. He also had six carries for five yards. Hendrix had been used as a substitute to give Notre Dame a running option at quarterback this season.

He is 1-for-10 passing for nine yards and has rushed 12 times for 17 yards.

‘‘I don’t think Andrew or myself or [offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Chuck] Martin could expect him not to perform at a higher level,’’ Kelly said. ‘‘I think he’s probably as disappointed as anybody. Those are basic things that he has got to do better.

‘‘You could probably look at
mechanics and the game and nerves and all those things, but he’s been in it too long for all those things to affect him. He’s got to play better, period. He’s going to have to be challenged to play better. And he knows that.’’

Kelly has other contingencies in place for practice.

‘‘[Third-string quarterback] Malik [Zaire] will have to get some reps if Tommy can’t practice Tuesday,’’ Kelly said. ‘‘We’re expecting that [Rees] can. But if he couldn’t, Malik would have to get as many reps as necessary to get him ready to compete. That’s something of a decision we’re not ready to make at this time.’’

NOTES: Safety Elijah Shumate suffered a hamstring injury Thursday and couldn’t play against USC.

† Notre Dame is 5-2 but isn’t ranked in the Top 25 of the Associated Press media poll or USA Today
coaches poll.

‘‘Must be a conspiracy,’’ coach Brian Kelly joked.

Email: lpope@post-trib.com

Twitter: @lamondpope



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