SOUTH BEND – Tommy Rees didnt want to be a spectator for most of the second half of Notre Dames 14-10 victory over USC last week.
But the senior quarterback didnt have a choice.
Rees was sacked with 9 minutes to play in the third quarter and, after staying on the ground for a while, was able to walk under his own power to the sideline. He was examined before being taken to the locker room. When he returned he was wearing a hooded sweatshirt instead of his pads.
I was pushing to go back in, Rees said Wednesday. At the time it wasnt the best decision to make. I respect what the doctors and training staff do. Theyre the experts. They know what theyre doing. Im not going to question them, but I was definitely lobbying to get myself back out there.
Rees, who was diagnosed with a strained neck after the hit, does not have to lobby to play any more as Notre Dame (5-2) prepares to play at Air Force (1-6) on Saturday.
He returned to practice Tuesday, and the senior said he didnt feel any limitations.
Getting cleared to participate yesterday was big. It felt good out there, Rees said. I will continue to progress throughout the week. It was good to be back out there with the guys. I feel good right now, and Im going to continue to feel better throughout the week.
Notre Dames offense struggled with Rees out of the game.
Rees had thrown for 166 yards with touchdowns to tight end Troy Niklas and receiver TJ Jones.
With backup Andrew Hendrix at quarterback, the Irish gained only 25 more yards. Hendrix didnt complete any of his four passes and only led the Irish to two first downs.
But the Irish no longer appear to have to worry about playing without their starting quarterback as Rees seems ready to play.
There were some things that were causes of concern (after the hit), Rees said.
Weve worked through those now. I feel comfortable with where Im at and participating throughout this week and playing on Saturday.