Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly

Brian Kelly has spoken about taking Notre Dame quarterback Tommy Rees to the next level.

‘‘That’s where we’re at right now,’’ Brian Kelly said ‘‘All the other stuff is just chat and opinions. Everybody is entitled to their opinions. His development now is, ‘How are they defending Tommy Rees?’ Tommy’s got to take that next step, and that is eight- and nine-man drops. How are you going to find a way to keep the chains moving?’’

Rees is 12-2 as a starter and his winning percentage is better than Joe Montana's but questions remain, especially about his mobility and ability to operate Kelly's spread offense.

He was not Kelly's first choice to start the season but he has cemented his place with a solid year.

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‘‘I can’t run around and do what some guys can do, but I can definitely figure out where guys are open and get outside the pocket to make a play,’’ Rees said.

‘‘There are many pieces we are trying to develop with Tommy, and the last piece we’re trying to move up to the next level is the deep ball,’’ Kelly said. ‘‘He’s capable of throwing it, but there’s an evolution to that. We’re spending more time on it. The last few weeks, it has been a point of emphasis.

‘‘We’ll continue to work on it, but there have been so many things that we had to work on first before we got to this. I believe this is the next step in his progression as a quarterback — if he can continue to grow in that area — and a lot of it is technique. It’s not mental. He has to do some things with his arm slot and arm angle to be more efficient. We’re working on those things.’’