QB Quandary: 3rd and Long

We conclude our first look in a series covering Notre Dame's upcoming quarterback competition with a review of the third-down performances of both Dayne Crist and Tommy Rees last fall.

Click here for Part I and a look at Dayne Crist and Tommy Rees' success in both third-and short, and third-and middle-distance situations.

Part II below examines third-and-long situations (8-12 yards needed) and third-and-unlikely conversion situations (13 yards or more).

Dayne Crist: 3rd and Long, 2010

For our purposes, long yardage was defined as 8 to 12 yards between the Irish and a first down:

Crist hit on 10 of 25 passes in 3rd or 4th and long last fall, with just five completions resulting in Irish first downs, though *two of his third down completions short of the sticks led to 4th down touchdowns on the following play – a result indicating seven of his 10 completions as successes.

A closer look at the numbers reveals one of his completions resulted in a 20-yard touchdown to Theo Riddick on 3rd and 11 at Boston College, while another was a garbage-time 37-yarder to Michael Floyd in the blowout loss to Stanford. He was sacked on three occasions, including a defining 4th down play that ended a 3rd quarter drive at Navy, while also scrambling twice: once for a yard on 3rd-and-11 in the opener vs. Purdue, and then on his final play – a 29-yard run in which he was injured on the Irish sidelines and lost for the season to a knee injury.

Of his 15 incomplete passes on 3rd-and-long, a combined nine were intended for Kyle Rudolph or Floyd. Floyd caught two of Crist's 3rd-and-long first down throws with Riddick (TD), John Goodman, and Tyler Eifert accounting for the others.

Of note: the Irish and Crist were unsuccessful in their first 10 3rd-and-long situations last fall, with eight incomplete passes and a sack intermixed.

Crist – 3rd or 4th and long:

  • Rushing: Suffered three sacks; carried twice – once for a yard in the opener, then again eight games later for 29 yards (and a season-ending injury).
  • Passing: 10 for 25 with five first downs (seven ultimately successful completions – *see above).

Tommy Rees: 3rd and Long, 2010

(Long yardage again defined as 8 to 12 yards between the Irish and a first down):

Rees hit at a 50 percent clip in 14 attempts, though only four of his seven completions on 3rd and long resulted in an Irish first down. He was sacked twice, fumbling once, but also drew a roughing call for a first down (Tulsa).

Three of Rees' four conversions on 3rd-and-long found Eifert, the other was to T.J. Jones (late vs. Miami) and three of his four total conversions in long-yardage situations occurred vs. the ‘Canes in the Sun Bowl. Conversely, both of his 3rd and long turnovers (INT, sack) were at the hands of USC in the Coliseum.

Oddly, Rees did not connect with Floyd (one attempt) on 3rd-and-long (8-12 yards needed) last season. He did, however, find Floyd for his longest pass completion of the season (to be reviewed in the next section).

Rees – 3rd or 4th and long:

  • Rushing: No rushing attempts, though Rees was sacked twice with a fumble.
  • Passing: Completed 7 of 14 passes, four resulted in Irish first downs; no touchdowns and no picks.

Crist: 3rd and Unlikely, 2010

For our purposes, unlikely yardage was defined as 13 or more yards between the Irish and a first down:

Crist connected on 6 of 11 passes in these unenviable down-and-distance situations, with three completions for Irish first downs including a touchdown. (Another positive play was a 3rd and 16 holding call drawn by Floyd that resulted in a first down vs. Michigan State.) Each of the three completions that did not result in first downs were check down throws well short of the marker. He ran just once (stopped well short) and was sacked twice.

Of note: While the Irish struggled on 3rd and long early last season (detailed above), Crist was a force in 3rd-and-unlikely distances in September, completing four straight for three first downs totaling 62 yards vs. Michigan and Michigan State. The Irish offense, however, then failed in nine consecutive similar situations, until Crist hit Tai-ler Jones for a touchdown at Navy.

Crist – 3rd or 4th and unlikely (13 yards or more):

  • Rushing: Suffered two sacks; carried once for four yards
  • Passing: 6 of 11 with three first downs (including a touchdown)

Rees: 3rd and Unlikely, 2010

(Unlikely yardage again defined as 13 or more yards between the Irish and a first down):

Rees was 5 for 7 in such situations with two completions resulting in Irish first downs and another setting up a field goal. His two check down completions were to Robert Hughes (2) and Duval Kamara, while the pair of conversions found Toma (22 yards on 3rd and 14) and Floyd (36 yards on 3rd and 16) – the latter marking the longest completion of Rees' season. One of Rees' two misses was the result of a QB hurry (Tulsa).

Rees – 3rd or 4th and unlikely (13 yards or more):

  • Rushing: No attempts
  • Passing: 5 for 7, two first downs; no TD or INT. Both conversion passes later led to Irish scores (Army and Miami).

Head-to-head analysis

Crist finished with nine 3rd down conversions in 44 long or unlikely distance opportunities, plus two more positive third down plays that led to fourth-down conversions. One of the conversions resulted in a touchdown pass to T.J. Jones.

Crist also suffered five sacks in those 44 opportunities.

Rees finished with six 3rd down conversions in 23 similar opportunities, fumbling once without throwing a touchdown or interception. Two sacks were included in his 23 chances.

Neither Crist or Rees threw a pick in "third and unlikely" distance situations, the ancillary goal of any head coach or offensive coordinator.

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