Notre Dame Football: Dayne Crist Named Starter at QB, and Other Camp News
With fall camp having transitioned solely into preparation for South Florida, many announcements and revelations have come to light.
Luckily, many of those things are positive.
All signs are pointing toward a tremendous season from Brian Kelly's Fighting Irish squad based on the upbeat attitude of the coaching staff and players during the last two weeks.
What should you have learned so far during camp?
Find out as we sift through the news, notes and updates from fall camp.
Dayne Crist Will Be the Starting Quarterback
The starting quarterback battle was the biggest storyline throughout camp and culminated with Brian Kelly announcing Dayne Crist as the starter.
That should come as great news to Fighting Irish fans as Crist is the more experienced and skilled quarterback on the depth chart.
Before going down with a tear to his patellar tendon against Tulsa last season, Crist threw for 2,033 yards, 15 touchdowns and seven interceptions.
Those figures are impressive considering Crist had only played eight games and was playing in a new system.
With a year of experience under his belt, look for Dayne Crist to have an outstanding season in Year Two of the Brian Kelly era.
Freshmen Will Be in Big Roles
With depth being an issue at running back and wide receiver, freshmen at those positions will be thrown into the fire and expected to produce.
At running back, Cam McDaniel and George Atkinson will be sharing reps behind Jonas Gray and Cierre Wood.
Brian Kelly has stated that he needs three consistent running backs in his offense, so it's apparent that McDaniel and Atkinson will have no choice but to prove that they have what it takes to be successful at the college level.
Each player experienced tremendous success in high school, but whether that success will translate to the college game remains to be seen.
At wide receiver, DaVaris Daniels and Matthias Farley are going to see the field right away in the seven-man rotation that Kelly employs.
According to coach Kelly, neither are truly ready to play, but will have to play due to lack of depth.
Here's to hoping that these freshmen will play well.
Surprises in Other Starting Battles
Aside from naming Dayne Crist as the starting quarterback, Brian Kelly announced other starters at his press conference today.
The outcome of position battles are as follows:
- Chris Watt over Andrew Nuss at left guard
- Jamoris Slaughter over Zeke Motta at strong safety
- Dan Fox over Carlo Calabrese at inside linebacker
- Sean Cwynar over Louis Nix at nose guard
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the four is Dan Fox earning starting duties at inside linebacker after Carlo Calabrese started eight games at the position last season.
Kelly stated that Fox won the job because he "didn't like contact last year, but now he likes it".
Another incumbent starter being uprooted is Zeke Motta at strong safety. In essence, he took the job from Jamoris Slaughter after Slaughter went down with an ankle injury at the beginning of last season.
It's expected that Motta will still see significant action this season.
Progress on the Recruiting Trail
The coaching staff knows that it must establish depth at each position if the team is to be a championship contender on an annual basis.
The most pressing needs are at running back and wide receiver.
Highly touted running back Byron Marshall recently took an unofficial visit to Notre Dame and said that he really enjoyed it.
Marshall also said that he would most likely be taking his official visit over the weekend of the USC game.
Another running back that the Fighting Irish are in hot pursuit of is North Carolina native Keith Marshall.
Marshall has set up three official visits during his high school season, one of which is a trip to South Bend for the USC game. It would be a coup for the coaching staff to receive a commitment from him.
On the defensive side of the ball, the coaching staff is in hot pursuit of more elite defensive linemen despite having received a commitment from defensive tackle and Indianapolis native Sheldon Day.
Ifeadi Odenigbo, Noah Spence and Ken Ekanem are all popular names in recruiting and each has shown interest in Notre Dame.
Clarification at Running Back
This shouldn't come as a surprise, but Brian Kelly made it clear today that Cierre Wood will be used as the feature back in the offense.
That's not to say that Jonas Gray won't contribute, but his role will be limited and could open up depending on how he performs for the rest of fall camp.
It's of tremendous importance that Cierre Wood stay healthy this season or else the running game will take a huge hit.
If Wood does remain healthy and Gray proves to be a reliable second option, then the offense will be just fine.