In-flux Temple secondary readies for Rees, Irish

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In-flux Temple secondary readies for Rees, Irish

The ballad of Tommy Rees has taken more twists and turns than Chubby Checker in a blender.

In 2010, he appeared in nine games, started four, won each of those starts, and became the first freshman in Notre Dame history to lead the program to a bowl victory.

In 2011, he took over for Dayne Crist -- remember him? -- at halftime of Week 1 and started every game thereafter.

In 2012, following an eventful summer, he lost his starting gig to the talented Everett Golson, but had to bail out the true freshman on numerous occasions to keep Notre Dame's perfect season and national title chances alive.

Through it all, Rees has emerged as Notre Dame's all-time leader in completion percentage (63.8). So why does it feel like he isn't supposed to be in this position heading into the start of his senior season?

Rees reclaimed his role as the starter this past offseason when Golson was suspended for the Fall 2013 semester. Golson referred to his offense as an exercise in "poor academic judgment."

That leaves Rees -- odd as it almost seems, since head coach Brian Kelly had basically moved away from him -- back under center in his final season in South Bend.

It also makes him the first challenge for a Temple team that opens the season at No. 14 Notre Dame this Saturday.

"They've had an outstanding offense anywhere Coach Kelly's ever been," Temple coach Matt Rhule said Tuesday. "Tommy Rees has 18 career starts. I know he came in last year, he won their Next Man in Award, he saved some games for them. He's going to do an outstanding job as a senior.

"They have a great stable of running backs.

"Chris Watt is as good a guard there is, so they'll protect and get the ball down the field. [Senior wide receiver] T.J. Jones, No. 7, we're going to have to find a way to handle him, because he's both a vertical threat and you can just throw the ball up and he'll go make a play on the ball. Even when he's covered, he's not covered."

None of this sounds great for a Temple defense that ceded 31.2 points and 437.1 yards per game and ranked dead last in the Big East in nearly every defensive category last year. Of particular concern was a secondary that came away with just four interceptions, the fourth-lowest total in the FBS.

One year later, sophomore corner Tavon Young, who came away with two of Temple's four picks in 2012, appears to have overtaken nicked up senior Zamel Johnson on the right side. Junior Anthony Robey, who broke up a team-high six passes, remains on the left.

"We've been banged up a little bit," Rhule said. "I'm really pleased with Anthony Robey. I think he's matured. I think he's developed himself into a starting corner. Tavon Young and Zamel have been battling it out. I think as of right now, Tavon probably starts the game."

And at safety?

"At safety," Rhule replied, laughing a bit, "it's kind of been a rotating thing there."

Temple's depth chart currently lists senior Abdul Smith and redshirt freshman Stephaun Marshall at the free and strong safety positions. Smith, a transfer from Rutgers, didn't get consistent time with the Scarlet Knights nor under former head coach Steve Addazio -- despite what obviously wasn't working in coverage. As for Marshall, he's yet to see college action.

Behind those two are sophomore Will Hayes (didn't play in a game last year), redshirt freshman Nate L. Smith (didn't play in a game last year) and true freshman Jihaad Pretlow (didn't play in a game last year).

If you're keeping score, four of the five guys just listed did not play in a game last year.

Nonetheless, Rhule has maintained throughout camp that he's been encouraged by the competition, not discouraged as if he doesn't have anyone he can play.

"I'm not sure who will start," he said. "I've said a couple times, we're not real big at safety, so we'll probably have to rotate guys so they last throughout the year. Whether it's Abdul or Pretlow or Will Hayes, Nate L. Smith's starting to come on a little bit. Those guys will probably rotate in."

Whoever it is will have their work cut out against Brian Kelly's offense.

"They'll run the ball, run the ball, run the ball and then take a shot in play-action," Rhule said.

"And then there are certainly some things in their empty-passing game that present problems, because Rees is so smart. He doesn't take sacks. He doesn't get sacked."

True, but he does turn the ball over. Temple may have only come away with four interceptions last year, but Rees' touchdown-to-interception ratio is major part of what's held him back. In three seasons, he's thrown 34 touchdowns against 24 interceptions.

Factor that into his completion percentage and somebody's catching just about everything he throws -- it just depends which team. It's been enough of an issue that defensive coordinators have found success on passing down rushing three and dropping eight into coverage against the immobile Rees.

Forcing Rees into some poor decisions, or just allowing him to make them, might be Temple's best strategy, especially with an inexperienced and interchangeable group of safeties. But that means the Owls' linebackers and defensive tackles will have to do their part on first and second down against the run. If Temple can't bottle the run, it'll fall victim to what Rees does best in play-action.

"We're going to have to find a way to take some of the pressure off ours corners and safeties," Rhule said. "Otherwise, they're going to be holding up [one-on-one in pass coverage] for a long time, which is difficult to do against this group."

Jerry Sandusky accuser asks to limit questioning, protect identity

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USA Today Images

Jerry Sandusky accuser asks to limit questioning, protect identity

HARRISBURG, Pa. — A man who claims he told Penn State football coach Joe Paterno in 1976 that he was sexually abused as a teen by Jerry Sandusky asked a judge Wednesday to protect his identity and limit questioning by lawyers in a lawsuit brought by Paterno's family against college sports' governing body.

Lawyers for the man called John Doe 150 said he gave a sworn deposition in October 2014 in a related case, brought by Penn State against its insurer over coverage for Sandusky-related claims, and that he should not have to endure another one.

He previously testified under oath about his abuse claims "and his reporting of the abuse to Coach Joseph Paterno and Penn State," his lawyers told Judge John Leete, who is presiding in the Paternos' lawsuit against the NCAA.

"Forcing John Doe 150 to sit through yet another deposition is not only duplicative, unnecessary and unduly burdensome, but it would force this victim of childhood sexual abuse to, again, relive the trauma of his abuse," his lawyers wrote. They said he settled with Penn State in 2013 and has kept his abuse a secret from those closest to him.

They alleged the abuse occurred when the man was a 14-year-old participant at a Penn State football camp but disclosed no other details.

Paterno, who died in 2012, said in an interview before his death that an assistant's report in 2001 of Sandusky attacking a boy in a team shower at the State College campus was the first he knew of such allegations against his longtime top assistant.

Sandusky, a former Penn State assistant football coach, was convicted of 45 counts of child sexual abuse and is serving a sentence of 30 to 60 years in prison. He maintains his innocence and is pursuing an appeal.

John Doe 150's lawyer, Slade McLaughlin, said in a phone interview Wednesday that his client was concerned about "nuts" harassing him over his role in the scandal, which has generated strong feelings.

"Some of these people are really over the top and some of these people are militant, and some of these people, in my mind, are terrorists," McLaughlin said.

The filing comes two days after Penn State asked the judge to reject a subpoena from the NCAA in the Paterno family lawsuit, seeking the man's name and the identity of a Sandusky accuser who made a confidential settlement with the school over claims he was abused as a boy by Sandusky in 1971.

Penn State said neither settlement agreement contains specifics about either man's claims.

In May, the judge in the insurance dispute being litigated in Philadelphia said in a written opinion that there was a claim that Paterno was informed by a boy in 1976 that Sandusky had abused him. The school subsequently also confirmed it had settled over a 1971 allegation.

The judge has since decided to disclose more information about the two claims, details that are expected to be made public in about three weeks.

The Paternos are suing the NCAA, saying it used a Penn State-commissioned report that harmed their commercial interests. Two former Penn State coaches, Jay Paterno and Bill Kenney, are also suing the NCAA, saying the report made it impossible for them to find comparable work.

Jerry Sandusky granted hearing in appeal of sex abuse conviction

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The Associated Press

Jerry Sandusky granted hearing in appeal of sex abuse conviction

HARRISBURG, Pa. — A judge on Thursday ordered hearings to let former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky develop more information as he tries to overturn his child molestation conviction.

Judge John Cleland said the three days of proceedings in August will address, in part, whether defense lawyers should have called Sandusky to testify and whether prosecutors improperly leaked information about the grand jury investigation.

The hearing also will delve into whether prosecutor Joe McGettigan lied during closing arguments at Sandusky's 2012 trial when he said he did not know the identity of a figure referred to as Victim 2.

"The question is what Mr. McGettigan believed to be true when he made the statement to the jury," Cleland said.

Sandusky, 72, is serving a 30- to 60-year sentence for 45 counts of child sexual abuse covering 10 victims.

Eight young men testified they had suffered abuse at Sandusky's hands. The two others were Victim 2, who assistant coach Mike McQueary testified he saw being abused by Sandusky in team shower in 2001, and a boy who was reportedly seen by a custodian with Sandusky in the locker room.

Also at issue on appeal are decisions by Sandusky's lawyers to let him do an television interview with NBC's Bob Costas soon after his arrest, to waive his preliminary hearing and to not use grand jury testimony by three Penn State administrators.

A spokesman for the attorney general's office said prosecutors feel strongly that Sandusky's appeal is meritless and they plan to challenge the claims vigorously. A message seeking comment from Sandusky's appellate lawyer, Al Lindsay, was not immediately returned.

Cumberland County prosecutor Dave Freed, speaking for the state district attorneys' association, said complicated cases sometimes generate multi-day post-conviction appeals hearings.

"This order seems to me very much in keeping with the way Judge Cleland conducts business, which is he lays out very clearly what he expects, how he expects the hearing to go, allows sufficient time for it and allows the parties to prepare so he can use court time efficiently," Freed said.

Sandusky previously lost direct appeals to the state's Supreme and Superior courts. He is now pursuing claims under the state's Post-Conviction Relief Act, which is confined to newly discovered evidence, constitutional violations and ineffective lawyering.

Brother of St. Joe's DeAndre' Bembry shot and killed in North Carolina

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AP

Brother of St. Joe's DeAndre' Bembry shot and killed in North Carolina

The brother of Saint Joseph's NBA prospect DeAndre' Bembry was shot and killed early Saturday morning in Charlotte, North Carolina, according to Philly.com.

According to Philly.com, Adrian Potts, 20, was gunned down outside an apartment building near the UNC-Charlotte campus and was one of four people shot. The others are expected to recover, and no arrests have been made.

St. Joe's head coach Phil Martelli told Philly.com on Sunday night he heard the shooting occurred over a cellphone, and Potts' mother, Essence Bembry, told Martelli that Potts was not involved in the dispute. Martelli spoke to both DeAndre' and Essence Bembry as they were flying to Charlotte on Sunday morning.

According to Martelli, DeAndre' is "awful, just awful."

In a text message to Philly.com, Essence said, "Adrian was a unique soul. He lost his life breaking up a fight. Always a peacemaker."