A few weeks ago I wrote a blog post about why I thought Dayne Crist should be the starter over Tommy Rees. The four reasons I cited were talent, learning curve, advanced metrics, and the future of the program. I felt like the combination of those four points gave Crist the edge in what many(including Coach Kelly) said was an extremely even quarterback competition. Well…when you are wrong you are wrong and I was certainly wrong about this.
I underestimated Rees’s edge in accuracy and perhaps undervalued his intangibles. Rees may not have NFL arm strength like Dayne Crist, but he does a much better job of putting the ball on his receivers. After rewatching the broadcast there were several examples of Rees’s accuracy being well beyond Crist’s. Crist missed Michael Floyd on simple curl and comebacks routes that stall drives and kill momentum. Rees was able to execute the offense much more effectively because his accuracy put the Irish in 3rd-and-manageable situations.
While the accuracy disparity became evident, it’s the intangibles that ultimately separates the two quarterbacks. Crist seems to be a bit of a front-runner. He led a terrific drive on the opening possession before Jonas Gray fumbled the ball away for a score. On Crist’s next redzone possession he made a terrible throw and a terrible decision that ended in an interception in the endzone. Crist’s body language was noticeably different after that play. His throws became even less accurate and he seemed to shrink in the moment when the team needed him to be the leader. Compare that sequence to Rees’s first interception that went off of TJ Jones shoulder as he wasn’t looking(seriously…WTF TJ?). Rees came back on the very next possession and led the Irish to a 66-yard touchdown drive. Rees certainly wasn’t perfect. He seemed to be too locked into Floyd at times and did throw the INT that essentially ended the game, but Rees did enough to merit being the starting quarterback for Notre Dame going forward.
Rees looks about 11 years-old, he doesn’t have a big arm, he isn’t very athletic, but he just has ‘It’. Intangibles, a winner’s mentality, a calmness, leadership, what the french call a certain…I don’t know what. Flashback about ten years ago and you’ll see another quarterback controversy that is eerily similar to this one. The New England Patriots had a highly touted, veteran, quarterback with all the physical tools you would want in a quarterback and he was backed up by a young and gangly 6th round draft pick. Drew Bledsoe, like Crist last year, lost his job to injury and was replaced by the younger Tom Brady. Brady and Rees aren’t going to wow anybody with measurables, but they both have a quality that can’t be taught. The Patriots decided to go with Brady even when Bledsoe was cleared to play. Brady led the Patriots to the AFC Championship before injuring his ankle and being replaced by Bledsoe. Bledsoe was ready and his performance gave the Patriots a win and place in the Superbowl. Notre Dame can only hope that Dayne Crist handles this situation with the same class and professionalism as Drew Bledsoe. Crist’s job is still to help the Irish win games. He needs to be a leader on the sidelines, in the classroom, in practice, and in the locker room. The Irish, like the Patriots did in 2001, may need to call on Crist again should something happen to Rees.
PS: While I wouldn’t want Crist to transfer, I think Notre Dame should give him his release should he ask for it. Crist still has another year of eligibility and should be awarded a 6th year if he appeals to the NCAA for a medical redshirt. Crist provides depth at the position, but if he wants to leave the program for a school like Cal or UCLA then he should be allowed to do so.
PPS: I still agree with Coach Kelly’s decision to award Crist the starting position. Crist is the veteran, Crist has better physical tools, and Crist originally lost his starting position due to injury. Crist worked extremely hard to rehab from two major knee surgeries and he deserved the chance to prove he could lead the team on Saturdays. It’s unfortunate that this decision resulted in a loss for the Irish, but Kelly made the correct call by giving Crist a chance…and is also making the correct decision now by awarding the starting job to Rees.
PPPS: I want to see some Everett Golson packages.
PPPPS: To all the commentors from the Crist blog who wanted Rees….You were right, I was wrong. You’re smart, I am stupid. You’re good looking, I am…not attractive.
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The most memorable things from the first weekend of college football
1. Hey Erin Andrews…you’ve got company. Samantha Steele explodes on to the hot ESPN sideline reporter scene.
Just blue Steele all over the place. Samantha Steele so hot right now, Samantha Steele.
2. What the hell was going on with those Maryland uniforms? Those are by far the ugliest things I have ever seen. They looked like they should have been playing at Midevil Times in Rosemont.
3. To all of the people who disagreed with me about Dayne Crist…you were right, I was wrong. You’re smart, I am stupid. You’re good looking, I am…not attractive.
Rees needs to be the starter going forward with some Everett Golson sprinkled in.
4. Who knew games could be called for lightning?
I still can’t believe that not finishing games is an option in football. The West Virginia and Michigan games being called cost me money as both games were deemed a push because they didn’t play a full 60 minutes. Notre Dame did it right. Delay the game for as long as needed, then head back out and finish the game. This was something lacrosse or soccer would do…not football.
5. Russell Wilson makes Wisconsin really effing good
Be afraid BigTen, be very afraid. Wilson didn’t even look all that sharp, but he is clearly the best QB the Badgers have ever had. Wisconsin could very well be a National Title Contender if they can get their run defense tightened up.
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The four-man quarterback competition taking place this fall at Notre Dame is getting plenty of media coverage and everyone seems to have an opinion. It is easy to get into Tommy Rees’s corner. The kid went 4-0 down the stretch with wins against “quality” opponents like Utah, USC, and Miami, while Crist went 4-4 with embarrassing losses to Stanford and Navy. Having said that, Dayne Crist MUST be the starting quarterback for Notre Dame. Giving the nod to Dane Crist is the best move for the Irish in both the short and long-term.
Crist is just better. Even though it often looked like Coach Kelly hated Dayne Crist on the sidelines, the truth of the matter is that Crist gives the offense a greater ceiling than Tommy Rees. Crist has far superior physical skills that enables the Irish offense to threaten defenses both vertically and horizontally. As much as I like Tommy Rees, there are certain throws that he simply can’t make. Notre Dame’s offense will be far less predictable with Crist running the show. Crist is also the superior athlete, and all reports are that he has regained his mobility after his second major knee surgery.
Year Two in the System. If Dayne Crist looked completely lost on the field at times last year, it’s because he was. Crist and Rees had essentially the same amount of time to learn the new system as both quarterbacks participated in the 2010 spring practice. Crist’s participation was even somewhat more limited than Rees’s due to his knee surgery. However, being the upper classman, Crist had much more of the playbook thrown at him in comparison to Rees. By the time Rees became the starter, the 10 other guys on the field were also more comfortable in the new system. Crist had to deal with not only his learning curve, but that of his teammates as well.
Numbers Don’t Lie: Crist actually faced tougher competition. Rees certainly knocked off some impressive names, and ND fans everywhere will remember him as the starting QB who finally beat SC. The truth of the matter is that the Irish faced much tougher teams in the beginning of their season. Crist played against 6 teams that played in bowl games including two conference champions in Michigan State and Stanford. Advanced metrics show that Crist played much higher quality defenses than Rees.
The Future of the Program: No matter who wins the starting job this fall, neither Dayne Crist nor Tommy Rees are the future of the position. I believe that title will belong to freshman Everett Golson. Golson is the most mobile of any quarterback on campus, but Golson isn’t just an athlete. Golson has an explosive arm and was rated as the most accurate high school quarterback when he attended the ELITE 11 camp. If Golson were 6’3″ and 210lbs, he would have been the top rated player in the country coming out of high school. Golson has all the tools to be a great college quarterback that can lead the Irish to a national title. He is a Troy Smith clone who seems to have been born to play in the Kelly spread offense. If Rees becomes the starter this season, that could stunt not only the growth of the program, but the growth of Golson. The quarterback position would be again unsettled next season and possibly the 2013 season as well. Allowing Crist to be the bridge to Golson is the best route for the future of the Notre Dame football program.
wake up the echoes. Go Irish
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