Inexperience, deficit too much to overcome
When starting quarterback Dayne Crist left with an injury after Notre Dame's opening drive, backups Tommy Rees and Nate Montana stepped in. The results: zero points. Rees went 0-for-2 with an interception. Coach Brian Kelly turned to Montana, who offers more mobility. Montana had more success, going 8-for-17 for 104 yards and an interception passing, and running for 23 yards on four carries. He connected with Theo Riddick on a 37-yard pass that nearly led to a score near the end of the first half, but was off target on an end-zone pass to end the half. Both Montana and Rees made their first Notre Dame appearances in the Michigan game. Notre Dame's inexperience at quarterback showed as Michigan built a 21-7 lead in Saturday's 28-24 Wolverines victory, with Crist returning in the second half to lead a comeback. Of the backups' performance, Kelly said, "I did a poor job preparing them." Kelly switched to Montana after two ineffective series from Rees. "Nate gives us a little more running than maybe Tom does," Montana said. "And I didn't want to throw it all over the yard with Tom given the circumstances of the game. I needed to eat some clock. And Nate gave us a better option where he could run the football, too." Kelly said that preparing the backups better might include developing specific packages of plays for them to use if called upon in a game situation. When asked about the injury after the game, Crist said, "Just running the ball, just took a hit kind of on the side of the helmet. I had trouble seeing out of my right eye after that. Tried to get back into focus. I wanted to play but wanted to make sure I was all right as well. Trainers and staff were doing tests on this eye to make sure I was okay to play. And they decided I was OK to play after that."
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