Dayne Crist Named Starter for ’11 Season

Dayne Crist was named the starting quarterback for Notre Dame in 2011 after coming back from his second major knee injury in the last two years on Tuesday. (Photo / Icon SMI)

After declaring the quarterback race was too close to call just a little over a week ago, Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly named senior Dayne Crist his starting quarterback for the 2011 season after a quarterback battle between Crist and sophomore Tommy Rees that started in spring ball.

“We named a starting quarterback and that will be Dayne Crist,” Kelly said on Tuesday. “He will start for us against the University of South Florida.  Both of those young men, Dayne and Tommy Rees, had a great battle for that starting position, but Dayne will be our starter and I expect him to be the starter for 13 weeks.  We have great confidence in his ability to lead our team to a championship.”

“He is a much better football player.  He is a much better quarterback,” Kelly said of his starting quarterback.  “I would say quite frankly and honestly, he’s the kind of guy I want to coach.  He’s tougher mentally.  He handles himself in that leadership position the way I want our quarterbacks to handle it,” he would add.

That level of comfort with Crist as the starting quarterback didn’t always exist last year according to Kelly.  “I didn’t know Dayne very well last year.  I can’t tell you that I felt the same way about him last year, but I do now.  Subjectively those are things that take time and you have to look at all of those factors when making your decision.”

Part of this new level of comfort with Crist came from the relationship Kelly built with the former five start recruit over the last year and a half and their ability to communicate better.  “It allows me to coach Dayne with better communication.  We’re on the same page relative to what my expectations of him are.   You can say it will allow me to coach him better because we can communicate better.  He knows what I want from him and that takes time sometimes.”

With Crist as the starting quarterback, one of the key concerns is the chance of another major injury.  Crist has after all suffered two major knee injuries over the last two seasons causing him to miss significant time.  Despite his injury history, he will not be limited at all in what he is allowed to do with his legs once he gets onto the field for live action against USF in less than two week.

“He has to.  He can’t play any other way,” Kelly said when asked whether or not Crist would be able to let loose with his legs.  “He has to play the game the way it comes to him.  One of the things he did in camp was show great escapability.  After two knee surgeries he moved well, he was able to extend plays, and that was obviously part of the overall decision making process.  We couldn’t have someone who couldn’t extend plays in our offensive system.”

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That running ability is one of the main physical traits that separates Crist and Tommy Ress – along with arm strength.  Crist is not going to be confused with Denard Robinson anytime soon, but he certainly can run the ball effectively when the opportunity exists.  People tend to forget that even though Crist missed most, if not all, of five games last year, he still led the team in rushing touchdowns with four.

While Crist has the edge in terms of physical traits – arm strength, size, running ability – Rees held a major edge in one department – wins and losses.  Rees was 4-0 as the starter and even though defense played a major role in that record, it was something that had to be considered.  According to Kelly, however, Rees’s record down the stretch was not a major factor in his decision process.

“A little bit,” Kelly said when asked about Rees record and how it factored into his decision.  “It was still about his growth and development as a quarterback as well.  He had things that as a true freshman he had to get better at and he did.  Tommy’s a much better quarterback than he was last year.  That’s why although it was a difficult decision, it’s one I like to make when you have guys that are developing.  They are both getting better as quarterbacks.  Tommy had that going for him, being 4-0, but it was more about he was a better quarterback and made great progress.  It’s just, at this point, Dayne is in that position to be the starter.

I have been saying all off-season that for Notre Dame to have a truly special season, Crist had to win the starting position heading into the season.  Between Rees and him, Crist has the edge in almost every physical category and has the ability to win games that Rees can’t at this point in his career if Kelly is able to coach it out of him.  There are areas where Crist struggled last year – most notably accuracy in the short passing game – but in terms of who has the higher ceiling, Crist holds the edge and if Kelly is able to get him to reach anywhere close to that ceiling, the Notre Dame offense could be a force by season’s end.


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  1. fxm 8 years ago

    Jarron Jones is on board, maybe we are becoming D-line U.

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  2. BrooklynKyle 8 years ago

    So I’m guessing that golden tate and brady quinn are #2 and #1 respectively in the best of the 2000s countdown?

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  3. qb 8 years ago

    “I see Michigan losing to Notre Dame” Detroit Free Press

    “Michigan loses against Notre Dame”

    These are pro michigan sites. likewise vegas has ND +2 @ Michigan

    likewise, almost every talking head predicted Crist would get the nod over Reese.

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  4. Chris 8 years ago

    Almost every blog or poll I see they have the Irish losing to Michigan…sup with that? New coach – lay the smack down on Robinson…? Should be a high energy game at night though – should be a barn burner and I am seeing an Irish win if D plays tough. I will be at the Michigan State game and am greatly looking forward to that one! GO IRISH!

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    1. fxm 8 years ago

      I think they are assuming that under Hoke they will play much better D and that Denard is going to continue to be unstoppable (which may be true). I think they overrate the defensive improvement under Hoke and we do indeed outscore them. I do think we will need more than 35 points to win.

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    2. Shazamrock 8 years ago


      Mich.St ALWAYS gets ND after the Michigan game.
      They got a sweet little deal going on there.
      It would be very difficult for any team to “get-up” after playing the Wolverines, let alone playing them in the first night game ever at the big house.
      While we are starting our season with South Florida and Michigan, the Spartans open with Youngstown St. & Florida Atlantic.
      I’ve never been in favor of the early season cupcakes like a lot of schools schedule, but whomever makes our schedules should take these facts into account every once in a while. Maybe try to cut the guys a break every now and then.
      Wish we could open the season with Mich St. and then play South Florida AFTER Michigan.

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      1. Chris 8 years ago

        No – I think we have Michigan State this year. I am not into the defensive hype – I need to see results on the field first before buying in. But, if they show they have real game against South Florida – lets agree to revisit the match up w/ Michigan State next week?

        I truly belive this is the year to really make a run. Next years scedule is absolutely brutal. They need to play to their ability – remain focused and not make stupid mistakes. A break on injuries this year would be nice too. If the defense proves there was no hype and they are the real deal – they have a damn good chance of making a run this year. GO IRISH!

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  5. C-Dog 8 years ago

    JC, I’d love to see that too. Yes, the Rocket return was amazing. And you make a good connection to something, regarding coaching leadership. When that happened under Holtz, the team did not do OMG, we did something great, now let’s coast. Kelly did some good things last year in creating expectations of greatness. Weis, would let the kids get the mindset of having one thing go right and then be star struck by the excitement, forgetting that the other team wanted to punch them in the mouth the next time on the field. Kelly should have these kids realizing that immediately after the band finishes playing and the extra point has been made, it’s back to business. WE have to land the next punch. And when the opponent is down, you only let them up after 60 minutes is up and the game over. We should watch how Kelly handles the game through the entire 60 minutes. If this team is ready for prime time, then the Irish, not South Florida will make it a 60 minute game.

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