Crist Solid In Starting Debut

Dayne Crist was more solid than spectacular in his starting debut this weekend, but the former five star recruit gave a few glimpses of the potential that made him one of the most sought after prep signal callers in the country a few years ago.

Dayne Crist was solid in the first start of his career, but he'll need to improve this week to lead the Irish to a victory over rival Michigan. (Photo - Icon SMI)

Crist was a very efficient 19 of 26 for 205 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions.  He spread the ball around to seven different receivers and converted half of the third down opportunities he was faced with.

Crist might have been more impressive for what he didn’t do though.  He didn’t turn the ball over, he didn’t take bad sacks, he didn’t force any bad pass, and he didn’t panic when faced with a pass rush.  It might not seem like much, but Crist didn’t record any intentional grounding penalties either – a common mistake for young quarterbacks.

There is still plenty of work left for Crist though.  While he was efficient against the Boilermakers, he also didn’t take many chances and went with the safe pass more often than not – even when there were open receivers down field.  As Brian Kelly said after the game, “I would say that if we were looking at his performance, he played well enough today for us to get a win against a good opponent, but there’s great room for improvement.”

Despite a 73% completion percentage, Crist also showed some shaky accuracy on his touch passes.  Twice in the fourth quarter Crist had Michael Floyd in single coverage streaking toward the end zone and both times he overthrew the route.  With more experience his timing on these throws will improve and as his comfort level with his receivers grows he’ll trust throwing the ball up for grabs more and more knowing they’ll come down with it. In another instance, Crist had Rudolph open in the end zone in the second quarter, but air mailed the pass instead of dropping it over the coverage into the waiting hands of his All American tight end.

While his touch passes might have been a little off, when he had a passing lane and could uncork his arm, he showed a canon.  In fact, on some of his throws he showed a stronger arm than his predecessor Jimmy Clausen.  If he can start to show the accuracy and touch that Clausen developed, the Irish offense will be able to score a lot of points this season.

Brian Kelly said throughout camp that he wouldn’t throw everything at Crist right away and would let him digest everything as he went along and that was evident on Saturday.  The play calling was a touch vanilla, but it put Crist in a situation where he could make some high percentage plays.

One area we didn’t see much from Crist was in the run game.  There were a few designed quarterback runs called, but they were few and far between and when they were called Crist didn’t look entirely comfortable running them.   With the limited depth at quarterback I wouldn’t be surprised if we didn’t see very many designed runs from Crist each week.

With a start under his belt and a week to review the film from Saturday, look for Crist to take some more chances down field and get a little more of the offense to play with from Kelly.  ” There’s a lot more that he’s capable of doing,” Kelly said Saturday before adding, “I think he’s going to make great progress from week one to week two.”

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  1. Crist is going to utilize the talent around him. It is a winning formula: ask Alabama and LSU fans. If there is a questionmark, then I question if Crist can lead a game-winning drive in crunch time against a tough defense. Other than that, Crist is a tough QB with plenty of talent. I’m going to enjoy watching him become better and better as the year progresses.

  2. Fundementally sound football….that is the base of all good offences to come. As far as defence good tackling and it seems like they were in the right spots to make plays…the only concern I have is contain…so the OLBs better contain…of Denard will have success on sat.

  3. I was happy with the offense. They were 3 plays away from really putting a hurt on Purdue. 1) Riddick dropping that pass at the end of the first half, that would have converted, were we then had to kick a field goal. 2) Floyd’s fumble, and 3) the safety. If those plays went the other way, which more times than not I believe all will, we would have put a world of hurt on Purdue.

  4. Michigan’s secondary is banged up so Crist will have the opportunity to air it out. Crist should also have more time in the pocket as he will not be facing two DE’s like he did with Purdue. One observation about the game last week was with Robert Hughes. Why not use him instead of allen on the safety play. Why not use him more in the red zone. What I also noticed on defense was not only better tackling but also a tendency to drive the tackle backwards limiting yardage gains. In the past few years ND would miss tackles or not wrap up. They also allowed the runner or WR to fall forward gaining an extra yard or two. It was rare on Sat to see anyone do this. Great victory none the less. This should have been a 35 to 10 victory.

  5. What I liked about this game was how solid both sides of the ball were. Last season we would have lost that game in the 4th quarter. When our guys got tired Kelly went 3 deep on the defensive side of the ball an there wasn’t much drop off. Looking ahead to Michigan, I can say I believe Kelly played it pretty vanilla A. for Crist and B. as to not showcase the entire offense over the first 6 weeks of the season which is the hardest part of our schedule. Kelly knows how to play the spread and we saw Saturday he can contain explosive players, look for him to do the same thing on next week. UConn doesn’t have as explosive of an offense as ND and our D is looking solid, I think Teo is going to be a huge factor this weekend with his mobility and instincts. Look for him to shadow Robinson. GO IRISH!!!!

  6. I don’t think they spread the field very well at all. They’ll really need to go down field more often next week to open up the dump passes and running game. With the running game comes play action, and with play action comes post-pattern touchdowns to Rudolph!

    Go irish…beat the Weasels…oops..i mean Wolverines!

  7. It is scary how good ND’s Offense looked in a very contained game plan. There was really no deep ball thrown all game by them. If you watched Cincy when they were on a roll last year, Kelly likes to mix it up with short stuff, long throws and hand offs to the RB’s. When Kelly adds the deep ball to Floyd, TJ and Riddick, things will open up even more for Wood/Allen and Rudolph.

    The talk already is about how nervous everyone is watching Michigan this weekend. I will note that Michigan fans are having the same conversation about ND and how good we looked this past weekend. It should be great match up. GO IRISH!!!!

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