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Notre Dame Media Day: Crist ready to lead talented offense

Sam Werner | Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Thirty-eight minutes and 11 seconds.

 That’s less time than it takes to watch an episode of your favorite TV show online. It’s probably just enough time to deliver a pizza.

 It’s also the total amount of playing time junior starting quarterback Dayne Crist has heading into the 2010 season.

 Crist didn’t see any action in 2008, and played in four games last season before tearing his ACL against on Oct. 31 against Washington State.

 Despite the lack of experience, Crist will be forced to lead his team in Irish coach Brian Kelly’s spread offense, which relies heavily on the quarterback’s decision-making.

 Still, Crist is confident that the past two years have prepared him to step into the spotlight.

 “Through that experience and through that patience, I think that I was able to mature a great deal,” he said. “I learned a lot in those years, and I think those first two years were extremely beneficial to where I am now as a person, as a quarterback.”

 While Crist will be the offensive leader for the Irish, he certainly won’t have to do it all himself. Junior wide receiver Michael Floyd has the potential to be one of the best receivers in the country, and has drawn rave reviews from the coaching staff about his work ethic in practice.

 “Michael Floyd’s a really good football player, and that guy’s got the opportunity to do a lot of things in this offense and make a lot of plays,” wide receivers coach Tony Alford said. “Obviously we know about his physical tools, but he really likes to play the game, and wants to learn and get better.”

 Sophomore Theo Riddick moved from running back to receiver in the spring, and has already emerged as a probable starter in the season opener against Purdue.

 “I think Theo has a chance to be an incredibly explosive player, one of the nation’s best,” Crist said.

 While most associate the spread offense with a high-flying passing attack, Kelly and the rest of the coaching staff seemed supremely confident about their team’s ability to run the football. Last year, Notre Dame ranked 84th in the country in rushing offense. That doesn’t matter to new running backs coach Tim Hinton, though.

 “I spent no time watching Notre Dame film from last year,” he said. “So really, to tell you who’s played how many minutes, I honestly to this day can’t tell you.”

 Hinton did say that senior Armando Allen has emerged as the likely starter, but that senior Robert Hughes, junior Jonas Gray and sophomore Cierre Wood would all see action.

 “The idea is every day we go out, we want Jonas, Cierre and Robert to want to be the best,” Hinton said. “We want Armando to not ever want to not be the best, and that competition’s going to go on day in and day out.”

The Irish also have All-American talent at tight end in junior Kyle

Rudolph. Rudolph will be especially valuable in Kelly’s system, which keeps a tight end on the field for every play. Tight ends coach Mike Denbrock emphasized the need for Rudolph, as well as senior Mike Ragone, to be strong as blockers as well as pass-catchers.

 “A lot of programs give lip service to the fact that their tight end has to do both [block and catch passes],” Denbrock said. “Well ours actually has to for our offense to go as good as it needs to.”

 Crist may be the face of the new-look Irish offense, but he’ll have to rely on his teammates to put up the big numbers a Brian Kelly offense can produce.

 “The talent around me on offense is extraordinary at every position,” Crist said. “As a result of that, you’ve got a great level of confidence, a real sense of calm going out there knowing that you can trust all the other 10 guys out there on offense.”