Tag:Dayne Crist
Posted on: March 24, 2011 1:48 pm
 

Spring Practice Primer: Notre Dame

Posted by Tom Fornelli

College Football has no offseason. Every coach knows that the preparation for September begins now, in Spring Practice . So we here at the Eye on College Football  will get you ready as teams open spring ball with our Spring Practice Primers . Today, we look at Notre Dame, which started spring practice on Wednesday.

Spring Practice Question: Can Notre Dame finally establish a running game?

When it comes to the way that Notre Dame finished its 2010 season, there are a lot of positives to talk about. Four straight victories against teams like Utah, USC and Miami that came as a bit of a surprise considering the Irish did it without starting quarterback Dayne Crist and starting tailback Armando Allen.

Instead the team was led by backup quarterback Tommy Rees, and a defense that played better than any unit the folks in South Bend have seen in quite a while.

So, it's no surprise that going in to the spring, the questions most people seem to be asking about Notre Dame have to do with the quarterback competition and the defense. Does Tommy Rees have a chance to keep the starting job? Will someone else emerge to replace both Rees and Crist? Can this defense maintain its late-season play, and can Manti Te'o get even better?

All are good questions to ask, and will definitely have a large impact on where Notre Dame goes in Brian Kelly's second season. Still, these aren't questions that can really be answered this spring. For the second year in a row, Dayne Crist is coming off of knee surgery and will be limited in the spring. Te'o is coming off of knee surgery as well, and won't be at full-speed either. So while we may see hints of things to come in those two areas, the answers will not come until later this summer.

One area that not many people are talking about, and also played a huge role in the late season turnaround that will definitely have a huge impact on the Irish in 2011 as well, is the running back position.

Since Charlie Weis replaced Tyrone Willingham in 2005, the running game that Notre Dame was once built upon has disappeared. The team hasn't had a featured tailback that could produce or be counted on since. Armando Allen had the talent, but through his first three seasons the results were inconsistent, and he was marred by injuries.

After having his senior season end early due to an injury, Allen is no longer in South Bend, though it turns out that Allen's absence may have been a blessing in disguise. With both Allen and Dayne Crist out, Brian Kelly placed a greater emphasis on the running game over the last month of the season.

The best friend that both a quarterback and a defense can have is a good running game. It takes pressure off of the quarterback, and time off of the clock, which allows a defense to rest on the sidelines.

The majority of the work replacing Allen went to Cierre Wood and Robert Hughes. Wood ran for at least 80 yards in four consecutive games, while Hughes played a large role in Notre Dame's victory over USC. Of course, like Allen, Hughes is gone. That leaves Cierre Wood as the team's top option, and this spring the Irish hope to find out whether he's ready to carry the load full-time.

The team feels he can, but Wood still has a bit to learn. While it's hard to deny the talent and explosiveness that Wood holds, he did show a tendency to dance a bit with the ball during his first season. There's no doubt that two words will be drilled into Wood's brain this spring: "north" and "south." If Wood can learn to hit the hole instead of dancing around and trying to run away from everybody, he definitely has the speed to break some huge runs for the Irish this season.


More Notre Dame

Wood won't be alone, however, as Notre Dame has other backs behind him on the depth chart. Jonas Gray is a senior that hasn't had much of a chance to prove himself during his first three years, but the Irish would like to see the 230-pound running back take on the role that Robert Hughes had last season, and be a short-yardage back. There's also Cameron Roberson, who redshirted in 2010, but has a lot of the qualities that Kelly and company are looking for.

He has the size to run between the tackles, and though he doesn't have great speed, he is a north-south runner. If Wood and Gray fail to meet expectations, Roberson could see himself climb up the depth chart.

Then there's Theo Riddick. Riddick came to Notre Dame as a running back before being moved to wide receiver. He could be the best running back that the Irish have on the roster, and Brian Kelly has hinted about moving him back to the position in 2011.

Which back will emerge as the team's starter, nobody knows yet. What we do know is that Brian Kelly saw how important having an effective ground game could be for his team at the end of last season, and that he'll look to keep it going in 2011.

It'll be up to one of these players, or maybe all of them, to see that it does. After all, it could be the difference between another lackluster season in South Bend, or waking up those echoes they talk so much about.
Posted on: February 16, 2011 1:03 pm
 

Notre Dame moves Luke Massa to receiver

Posted by Tom Fornelli

What was going to be a six horse race to be Notre Dame's starting quarterback in 2011 is now down to four. Nate Montana made it official and transferred to Montana on Monday, and now it's been confirmed that quarterback Luke Massa will be moving to wide receiver for the Irish. Much like Montana, Massa had the option to either switch positions or transfer to another school, and it seems he doesn't want to leave South Bend.

According to his high school coach, Steve Specht, it's a move that shouldn't be a major problem for Massa.

“I think Luke wished he had more time to prove himself at that position," Specht told the South Bend Tribune. "But on the other hand, this kid is all about helping Notre Dame. If they want him to clean the stadium, and that makes the team better, he'd be the first to do it. He'll embrace wide receiver.

“And as far as how good he can be? Well he's faster than people think. He can jump as high or higher than anybody on that team. He has phenomenal body control. I would not bet against Luke Massa.”

Massa certainly has the size to play receiver, as he's listed at 6'4 and 215 pounds. Which would mean that whichever quarterback winds up with the job, he'll have a large target to throw to.

It also means finding a starter will be a bit easier for head coach Brian Kelly. The general consensus is that Dayne Crist and Tommy Rees, who both started games in 2010, have the edge, but the coaching staff is also pretty high on Andrew Hendrix. Then there's the wild card of incoming freshman Everett Golson. Golson has already enrolled for the spring in South Bend, and some believe he's the best fit for Brian Kelly's offense. Of course, whether or not means he's ready to take over the offense from the start remains to be seen.

Though the last time Notre Dame found a dual-threat quarterback from South Carolina, Tony Rice, things turned out pretty well.
Posted on: February 9, 2011 6:55 pm
 

Nate Montana to transfer to Montana?

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Notre Dame has a bit of a logjam at quarterback next season, with Dayne Crist expected to battle Tommy Rees for the starting job in 2011. Behind those two there are also Andrew Hendrix, Luke Massa, Everett Golson and Nate Montana. That's a whole lot of quarterbacks for a limited supply of reps, so it wouldn't be all that surprising to see one of them leave South Bend.

And it appears that the one on the way out would be Montana, son of former Notre Dame quarterback and NFL Hall of Famer Joe Montana. According to the Montana student newspaper (via the Chicago Tribune) Joe Montana was at Montana on Tuesday to talk to the school's coaches. It seems that Joe is doing some ground work to see if there'd be any interest in having his son transfer to the FCS powerhouse.
Joe's son, Nate Montana, 21, currently is a backup quarterback at Notre Dame. On Wednesday, [Montana head coach Robin] Pflugrad neither confirmed nor denied that the meeting surrounded Nate Montana's possible transfer to UM.
"(Montana) has four kids and we talked about them all," Pflugrad said of the meeting, adding that he is aware of Nate's situation at Notre Dame but declined to comment further.
If Montana did transfer, it'd be the perfect situation for him. First of all, since he'd be transferring from an FBS school to an FCS school, he wouldn't have to sit out a year. Secondly, Montana is just not going to get a chance at Notre Dame, so there isn't much reason to stay if he wants to play football. Finally, his name is Nate Montana and he'd be playing for Montana.

If your name is Johnny Connecticut you don't play for Massachusetts.
Posted on: December 30, 2010 2:16 pm
 

CBS Bowl Bonanza: Sun Bowl

Posted by Tom Fornelli

The Basics: Notre Dame (7-5) vs. Miami (7-5), 2pm EST, CBS

Why You Should Watch: This is a pretty interesting matchup, not just for the teams playing in it, but because of the history between these two schools.  It's not quite the Catholics vs. Convicts matchups of the late 80s and early 90s, as neither team has been all that successful the last few years, but a win in this game could be another step on the path back to the top of the polls.  Plus it's on CBS!

Keys to Victory for Notre Dame: Ever since Dayne Crist went down during a loss against Tulsa, Tommy Rees has stepped in and played well, and the Irish haven't lost since.  Sure, Rees hasn't exactly been tearing it up in Crist's absence, but he's been managing the offense extremely well for a freshman, and the Irish have also seen their running game get going.

In order to beat Miami, the Irish will have to keep that formula going.  It was good enough to beat Utah and USC, and it could work against Miami as well.  The key will be for the offensive line to give Rees time, as the Miami pass rush will be better than any he has faced thus far.

Still, as well as Rees has played, the real reason Notre Dame has won its last three games has been the play of the defense.  The Irish have only allowed 22 points over those three games, and if they can pressure Jacory Harris it's only a matter of time before he makes a mistake.

Keys to Victory for Miami: Miami has the talent edge in this matchup.  The question is what the team's motivations will be.  The Hurricanes are playing for an interim coach in Jeff Stoutland, and you really have to wonder how badly they even want to play this game, or if they'd rather just move on.

We know that Jacory Harris will come to play as this is his last chance to redeem what's been a terrible 2010 season.  Still, that could work against Miami.  Harris' biggest problem has always been his patience, and it will be key for him to not try and do too much.  Just take what the Irish defense gives him, and move the ball down the field.

On defense, the key will be to get to Rees.  Pressure him into making mistakes, and keep the running game in check.    If Miami can do this, and the offense limits mistakes and turnovers, then there's no reason that Miami can't win this game.

The Sun Bowl is like: that fight between Evander Holyfield and Mike Tyson, the rematch, in 1997.  Yes, Holyfield was still the champion at the time, but neither fighter was the same as the ones we'd seen earlier in their careers.  Still, a win in this game, much like that title fight, would help bring some legitimacy back to either program.  I just hope that nobody bites anybody's ear off.
Posted on: December 20, 2010 3:07 pm
 

Dayne Crist has no plans to transfer

Posted by Tom Fornelli

Notre Dame quarterback Dayne Crist came to South Bend as the heir apparent to Jimmy Clausen, and after Clausen left following his junior season, Crist came into 2010 with the starting job.  Things didn't go all that well for Crist as a starter.  For the second straight season his year came to an early end thanks to a ruptured patellar tendon he suffered during a loss at home to Tulsa.

That's when Tommy Rees, a freshman, took over under center for the Irish and Notre Dame has gone 3-0 since with wins over Utah and USC.  Which has led to a lot of speculation in and around South Bend that Crist was going to transfer rather than come back and compete with Rees for the starting job next season.  Which is news to Crist, because he says he has no plans on going anywhere.

“I don't know where it comes from," Crist told the South Bend Tribune. "There's a ton of negativity anytime you're hurt. People just want to throw you under the rug, and I don't talk to any of those people. So I don't know where I'm supposed to be transferring to.

“They should be informing me, where I'm transferring to. (I'm hearing that) I'm switching positions (too) and quitting football. I don't know which position I'm supposed to switch to. You tell me.

“This is all new information to me, but know I'm confident in my ability, confident in the doctors and the rehab process, confident that I'm going to come out firing when I'm able to come back and they give me clearance on everything.”

If Crist does come back, and it sure sounds like he's going to, Brian Kelly is going to have a tough decision to make next season.  Crist may be older and have more experience than Rees, but it's hard to argue with the results that Rees has had on the field.  Rees did help the Irish take the lead late in the fourth quarter in the Tulsa game before the defense gave up a game-winning touchdown in the final minute, and has won every start since.

Rees has looked like anything but a freshman since becoming the starter, and he's had to do it while the Irish offense was also without its leading rusher in Armando Allen.  If I were to guess at what the situation would be next spring, while I believe there will be a competition, I'd have to think that Rees would start the competition on top with Crist having to play catch up.
Posted on: November 8, 2010 6:54 pm
Edited on: November 8, 2010 7:55 pm
 

Greg McElroy's, Dayne Crist's worlds collapsing

Posted by Adam Jacobi

It's hard out there for a quarterback these days. You just don't understand. Calamity befalls these poor kids at every turn, and society just turns a blind eye to their struggles.

Don't believe us? Here's Alabama senior quarterback Greg McElroy, talking about living in a world that would leave the average American waking up in a cold sweat nightly:

McElroy awoke Sunday morning with a sickening feeling. The 11th-ranked Crimson Tide had just lost for the second time to fall to a disappointing 7-2 on the season.

"It feels like the end of the world, it really does," McElroy said Monday.

The endtimes are here in Alabama, people. The world had a good run, but it's done. World: Big Bang - 2010 A.D. It will be missed.

There's no word yet from the 109 FBS starting quarterbacks who are still ranked under McElroy, but simple logic would dictate that their worlds have all ended as well; otherwise, McElroy would be a reckless exaggerator who's completely out of touch with reality.

Need more evidence that life is indescribably difficult for D-I quarterbacks? Think about the hell Dayne Crist must live in. Notre Dame is 4-5, suffering through crises on and off the field, and Crist is just beginning rehab for a ruptured patellar tendon... and that's not even the worst part, as he told Twitter this weekend:

although chipotle normally does a pretty decent job, there is nothing worse than a poorly wrapped chipotle burrito

Considering all that must make a Notre Dame quarterback's life suck, for a poorly wrapped burrito to top the list must mean that the foodstuff is unfathomably bad to deal with. Do glass shards grow in it? Does it burst into flames in direct sunlight? Does it convince your head coach not to prepare correctly for a simple triple option attack? Inquiring minds want to know!

Posted on: November 1, 2010 4:46 pm
Edited on: November 1, 2010 4:50 pm
 

Arkansas loses WR Greg Childs for season

Posted by Adam Jacobi

Arkansas ' passing game took a major hit this weekend when Greg Childs , the Razorbacks' leading receiver both this season and last, suffered a season-ending knee injury . According to head coach Bobby Petrino , Childs injured the patellar tendon in his knee -- the same tendon that Notre Dame quarterback Dayne Crist ruptured the same day , incidentally -- and the surgery and rehab will sideline Childs for 4-6 months, or well past bowl season.

Some fans will likely wonder why Childs was even playing when he was injured; his injury occurred in the fourth quarter of a game the Razorbacks would win by a 49-14 margin over hapless Vanderbilt . And yes, that's a fair question. At the same time, there's nothing about playing with a large lead that makes a player more susceptible to injury or anything; it's just rotten luck that it happened late in the contest and not, say, early next week. Or three weeks ago. Or whenever. It happened, and now Arkansas has to move on.

If there's any consolation, it's that the injury likely derails any hope Childs might have had of declaring early for the NFL draft. Childs has prototypical size and speed, but if he can't run at 100% at the combine, there's really no sense in beginning the pro process at that point. As for his collegiate career, spring ball is probably out of the question, but Childs doesn't need those reps as much as the younger players anyway; his on-field abilities are well-established as it is. By the time Childs gets through summer and fall practices, he should be 100% full speed for Week 1, and that'll be bad news for the rest of the SEC next season.



Posted on: October 31, 2010 6:22 pm
 

Irish lose starting QB and RB for season

Posted by Tom Fornelli

On Saturday Notre Dame not only lost at home to Tulsa , all but destroying any chance the team had to go to a bowl game this season, but it lost its starting quarterback as well.  Dayne Crist had to leave the game in the first half after rupturing the patellar tendon in his left knee -- nearly a year to the day he tore the ACL in his right knee -- ending his season.

Now we learn that Crist isn't the only starter the Irish are going to be missing the rest of this season.  Running back Armando Allen did not play in the Tulsa loss, battling a hip injury, and on Sunday Brian Kelly said that Allen is going to undergo surgery on his hip.  A surgery that will not only end his season, but his college career as well.

"Armando, we're setting up a potential surgery for him," Kelly told the Chicago Tribune . "We dressed him so he could run out of the tunnel one last time, because we were pretty certain he's not going to be able to play again.... He has a right and left torn cartilage in the hip, I think specifically the labrum. Very, very unusual. We treated the first one. If you watched him in the Navy game, he played hard, he played with great passion, but he did not have that second gear he had early in the year. We have not concluded it with 100 percent certainty until the surgery is done, but we believe some of this was a preexisting condition."

Allen had 514 yards and two touchdowns this season, and was on pace for the best season of his career in South Bend.  As it is, that career will come to an end with 2,144 rushing yards and 8 touchdowns.

Obviously, at 4-5 with games against USC and Utah remaining on the schedule, getting to six wins this season was going to be very hard for the Irish to do. Now that they'll be without their starting quarterback and running back, it'll be just about impossible.
 
 
 
 
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