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Football: Not missing a beat

Douglas Farmer | Thursday, April 15, 2010

Of all the questions Irish coach Brian Kelly and his new staff faced heading into their first set of spring practices, perhaps the most pressing was whether junior quarterback Dayne Crist would participate after undergoing intensive knee surgery less than six months ago.

Now, nine practices into the spring season, Crist has been able to do everything the coaches have asked him to, offensive coordinator Charley Molnar said after Monday’s practice.

“He has never asked to take a play off, and I’ve never given him a play off,” Molnar said. “I don’t even think about it when we’re out there.”

Crist said his right knee is “between 75 and 80 percent.”

“It’s definitely not 100 percent yet, but we didn’t expect it to be,” Crist said Monday. “I think we’re a little further ahead of schedule than what we were planning on.”

While he may not be fully recovered, Crist said he is in “the last phase of restrictions,” meaning his doctors discourage any explosive cuts or jumps. Crist did hint he could possibly already perform such movements, however.

“It is not so much that we don’t feel I could do it right now, but it’s just not in the best interest,” he said. “We’ve worked so hard to get where we are now.”

The April 24 Blue-Gold Game is less than two weeks away, so fans are unlikely to see Crist truly test the knee, but he said he hopes to give it a full work-through soon.

“We’re almost at the six-month mark, and then they’ll cut me loose,” he said.

Despite the restrictions, and the rust caused by five months off the field, Crist has impressed his coaches.

“He’s got a very strong arm and seems to have great poise in the pocket,” Molnar said. “And he seems to do a good job going through his progressions.”

Molnar said he is also pleased Crist is starting to understand Kelly’s complex offense at a more in-depth level.

“Every day he seems to demonstrate more grasp and more control of the offense,” Molnar said. “I wouldn’t want to play a game in a month, but … I think he’s going to be ready by the time we play Purdue.”

When the Irish take the field against Purdue on the first Saturday in September, Crist will finally get a chance to use the offense he is still learning, and that is a chance he is already waiting for.

“The speed and tempo of [this offense] cause a lot of problems for defenses,” Crist said, his voice rising in anticipation. “I’m excited to see how it translates on the field during the season, and how it effects defenses throughout the year.”