SOUTH BEND – Notre Dame backup quarterback Dayne Crist used his time on the sideline wisely last year.
The sophomore, who didnt take a game snap last season, solved the mysteries of coach Charlie Weis complex offense.
Last year at this time, I was struggling just to call plays, Crist said. Now you go from calling the plays to running the plays to running the offense.
Crist will likely not run the offense for two more seasons, as junior quarterback Jimmy Clausen enters his third year as the starter.
But that doesnt mean the 6-foot-4, 235-pound Crist isnt preparing like a starter.
Weis said he and quarterbacks coach Ron Powlus meet individually with Clausen and Crist at different times to get each quarterback ready for games.
Id like for (Crist) to mentally prepare as if he were the starting quarterback, Weis said. Sometimes the second quarterback can get into a comfort zone because he knows he doesnt have to be the guy who has to be out there. As you know, you are one play away from being the starting quarterback.
Powlus said Crist has taken the tutorial sessions well and is pleased with the sophomores progress.
They are at different developmental stages, so there are different levels of thinking so the meetings certainly go a little differently, Powlus said. But there is no doubt, the goal is to get Dayne prepared to go play.
Crist, who moved ahead of three-year backup Evan Sharpley, who is now the third string quarterback, has the pedigree to be a starter.
The Sherman Oaks, Calif., native was a five-star recruit out of Notre Dame High School. Crist threw for 2,178 yards with 16 touchdowns and ran for 454 yards and two touchdowns as a senior.
He was selected to play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl and was a finalist for the 2008 U.S. Army Player of the Year award. Rivals.com ranked him the 25th-best prospect in the nation and the second-best pro-style quarterback as a senior.
Im just trying to build on everything and have command and control of the offense, said Crist, who has been friends with Clausen since middle school. With every rep and every practice, Im preparing to be the starter.