As we count the days until Purdue week officially begins, let’s kick off another installment: The Offseason Cheatsheet. While most of you have been loyal readers and checking back multiple times each day, some of you are cramming for the Irish football season that’s 18 days away. Consider this your Du Lac approved crib-sheet for the upcoming season.
With the departure of three-year starter Jimmy Clausen to the NFL, the Irish depth chart lacks any quarterback with significant playing time. That said, the succession plan post-Clausen is falling into form with junior Dayne Crist ready to take the helm, albeit a season early than many Irish fans hoped. While his offseason was thrown a curve ball when a torn ACL suffered in mop-up time against Washington State ended his 2009 season in San Antonio, Crist rehabbed diligently through the winter, took every snap during spring drills, and is injury free and full-speed in fall camp. The battle to back up Crist starts with walk-on Nate Montana and early enrollee freshman Tommy Rees. Fellow freshman Andrew Hendrix and Luke Massa are also pushing for a spot on the depth chart, but both will likely preserve a year of eligibility this season.
Short a program? Here’s every quarterback listed on roster:
No. Name Yr. Ht./Wt. Hometown/High School
10 Dayne Crist Jr. 6-4/235 Canoga Park, CA (Notre Dame)
12 Andrew Hendrix Fr. 6-2/218 Cincinnati, OH (Moeller)
13 Tommy Rees Fr. 6-2/210 Lake Forest, IL (Lake Forest)
14 Luke Massa Fr. 6-4/215 Cincinnati, OH (St. Xavier)
15 Brian Costello Sr. 6-2/210 Pittsburgh, PA (Chartiers Valley)
16 Nate Montana Jr. 6-4/215 Concord, CA (De La Salle)
17 Matthew Mulvey Jr. 6-2/191 Del Mar, CA (La Jolla)
KELLY ON QUARTERBACKS:
On Crist: “At the end of the day, this whole conversation can be in a few
words: Dayne Crist is getting better every day,” Kelly
said. “The rest of this other stuff? It’s good. But
it’s really going to focus on Dayne’s ability and the upshot is, he’s
doing a nice job.”
On Rees: “He’s really savvy. He’s a smart kid. He has those intangibles of a
quarterback relative to seeing things before they open up. He can
anticipate very well. The ball comes out of his hand.
I want to be careful in saying he’s not number two just because he was
here longer than the other two freshmen. I think I said at the outset,
he showed us early on that he can run this offense.”
On Montana: “Nate’s problem is he has a really good day and then a really bad day. I
got to get him more consistent because Tommy’s been really consistent.”
On Hendrix: “He’s got a very strong arm. I think what stands out about Andrew is
that he’s only been a starter for a year and a half. He has not played a
lot of football. His best football is clearly in front of him.”
On Massa: “Very smart, very disciplined. He’s 6’5″, 205 pounds. He’s going to be
really big. He’s going to be a strong player. He’s got great feet,
outstanding basketball player.”
In a perfect world, the only quarterback that sees the field this year for the Irish is Dayne Crist. If all goes well, expect Crist to receive some postseason kudos and begin next season in a similar position to Brady Quinn entering his senior season, in the conversation for a certain trophy that just gave Reggie Bush the stiff-arm. Other hunches: Expect Tommy Rees to supplant Nate Montana as the primary back-up to Crist by the middle of the season. With three freshman quarterbacks on the roster, don’t expect the Irish to take a quarterback in this recruiting class unless somebody really wows the staff. Even if there’s nobody in that recruiting slot this year, expect to say goodbye to one of the three freshman. Attrition and logic, along with a lack of playing time, means somebody will leave South Bend to pursue playing time at another school.
C+ With Crist on the top of the depth chart, it’s too hard to knock the Irish, but the depth chart behind him is scary, even if Kelly’s known for having a quarterback friendly system.