Quarterback Dayne Crist will carry the Fighting Irish hopes on his broad shoulders when Notre Dame open their 2010 season against Purdue at home Sept. 4.
"When you cut through it, we're going to be tied to his ability to run our offense," says new coach Brian Kelly. "He's extremely capable of being what everyone wants the Notre Dame quarterback to be, but he's got no résumé. He hasn't played."
Of course he hasn't played. Crist tore the ACL in his right knee Oct. 31 when the Irish battered Washington State 40-14.
And he only got 20 passes in four games as Jimmy Clausen's backup last season.
They're big shoes to fill, especially with a repaired ACL.
"We're cheating nature a little bit, but it was so important for me to get him out there because he just doesn't have much experience," Kelly says.
"Our defensive coaches are responsible for protecting him. If you can't protect Dayne Crist, you're not going to be coaching here."
"I'm trying to embrace every challenge," Crist said. "I think we've got a great offense in place. I think we have a great team. I think it all depends on how we come together as a team."
"I think it's definitely faster than anything I've ever experienced," Crist said. "Once we get a greater knowledge of his offense, I think we'll be operating a lot faster."