Think of all the highly publicized quarterbacks in ND history: Brady Quinn, Jimmy Clausen, Joe Theismann, Steve Beuerlein. There’s even a subgroup of stars who wore the same number (#3)- Joe Montana, Rick Mirer, Ron Powlus.
By Paul M. Banks
Crist, a Canoga Park native, coincidentally also played his high school ball at a school named Notre Dame. He ran a spread offense similar to what new Coach Brian Kelly has implemented, so his transition should be a smooth one. Crist has only thrown 20 passes in his college career, but he is very highly touted, a consensus top 25 national prospect when he was being recruited. I spoke with Crist at ND Media Day about what he expects this season.
It all starts and ends in preparation for the new offense, as the Irish make an adjustment from the pro-style to the spread-option.
“I think it is all repetition. “Intensity through repetition” has kind of been a saying that the team has held tight to throughout the new regime and it’s something that they have instilled at every position. Intensity through repetition really gives you that unconscious confidence,” Crist said.
“It just helps with spacing overall. Again, that truly fits the system and what Coach Kelly wants and conceptually what he’s asking of our whole offense in general. The spread is just something that really makes defenses, as the name says, spread out and it creates a lot of space and matchups that we like to exploit,” Crist continued.
Every quarterback, but spread quarterbacks especially, are asked to make plays with their feet in addition to making plays with their arm. It helps Crist and the Irish that he ran a spread-style offense in high school. But footwork is perhaps the fundamental component of the game that Crist needs to work on the most, in order to augment his game.
He spoke about adjusting his footwork.
“I think it is just that it was so different than what I was used to. It was a definite change compounded that I was coming in off of the torn ACL. It’s not necessarily my foot coordination but my foot speed was lacking. There was a lot going on there so it was a definite challenge to work through that and continually try and improve and build upon what we had established. It was definitely challenging but it was something that we’ve worked through and we’ve got a good foundation for going into the season.”
Last year, Clausen put up ridiculously good numbers, but the overall perception of his 2009 season isn’t as positive as his numbers would indicate. Probably because the team finished just 6-6 last season.
“As a quarterback, you can’t get caught up in statistics, because that will really throw you off. It will really throw you for a loop…but Coach Kelly puts a great emphasis on completions. Completions are what keeps drives going, you just have to get first downs, because the spread is no good if you’re going three-and-out, then there’s no point in running it; if you’re not moving the chains,” Crist stated.
In this style of offense, short completions supplement the running game as a way to play ball control and convert short yardage situations, as a way of keeping the clock ticking. On September 4th the Irish open their season at home versus Purdue. That is when Crist will begin to fell the pressure and spotlight of the position.
“Pressure is what you make it, I really just try to embrace whatever pressure is put upon me. I think I have a pretty good understanding of what it means to be the quarterback at Notre Dame, I’ve been fortunate to see Jimmy go through it for two years, and when you spend every day with a guy like that, it’s almost (other than the game experience part) like you’re doing it yourself.”
Written by Paul M. Banks, president and CEO of The Sports Bank.net , a Midwest-focused webzine. He is also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, the Chicago Tribune’s blog network, Walter Football.com, the Washington Times Communities, Yardbarker Network and Fox Sports.com
You can follow him on Twitter @thesportsbank and @bigtenguru