It is hard to imagine anybody calling Notre Dame freshman quarterback Dayne Crist selfish. In fact, it is not clear if he even fully understands the meaning of the word.
With Jimmy Clausen having a spectacular year, Crist understands that his role on the team is to learn the offense for the future while cheering on receiver Michael Floyd and other classmates that have made impacts as rookies.
"It sounds selfish, but I'm just as excited as he is when he's making a catch or scoring a touchdown," Crist said. "Those are all great guys. They're your friends and it just means a lot to see these guys making an impact on the field this year. It's very exciting."
While Clausen took his lumps as a freshman, Crist has been able to sit back, watch and learn.
"It's incredibly beneficial being able to see Jimmy do it and see Evan do it and see it live in a game helps to kind of put the X's and O's together," said Crist. "You kind of get a real feel for how it works and how it applies to a game, just kind of the decisions that need to be made and just watch these guys and the decisions that they make."
With Clausen focusing on preparing for the upcoming opponent each week, it has been senior backup quarterback Evan Sharpley's job to keep the freshman up to speed.
"Evan's been incredibly beneficial to me. Not only on the field, but off the field, just advice about carrying yourself and what it means to be a quarterback at Notre Dame," said Crist. "He's really helped me and really helped my learning curve a great deal. He's been here for four years and really knows the offense very, very well. He just kind of helps me to see things that I wouldn't ordinarily be looking for and I think that it's been a huge service having Evan around. I'm real appreciative for everything that he's done."
Head coach Charlie Weis and Crist each agreed that the freshman suffered from a bout of information overload during preseason camp, but was starting to emerge toward the end of camp.
"Right after camp things definitely started to slow down. Now it's just a matter of trying to fine-tune everything. I feel that I have a very good grasp of the offense so far," said Crist. "Obviously, I'm nowhere near perfect and won't stop trying to improve until I get to that point. But everyday I seem to be picking things up a little bit better and I'm just trying to improve everyday and just take in as much as possible."
Crist was not surprised that he had trouble picking up the offense right away.
"Coming in and throughout the summer I knew that it was going to be a lot to take in. Like I said, I'm just trying to learn and pick up something new out of the offense and just trying to get better at one aspect of my game each day," he said. "Practice has been going pretty well so far. From the summer and looking to now, I have a much better understanding and grasp of the offense and Coach Weis' system. It's been great coming out everyday and trying to learn and get better."
Notre Dame runs a pro-style offense and as Clausen proved last year, it is tough for any player to learn straight out of high school, but Crist is starting to get it.
"Trying to pick up a new offense can be very difficult. Obviously, with the extent of Coach Weis' offense and the intricacies within his offense are kind of a lot to pick up on," he said. "But I think I picked up the verbiage, terminology, overall concepts and things like that. From now, like I said, it's just trying to fine-tune everything and get to where I can get comfortable and do this on a regular basis."
With Clausen and Sharpley standing between Crist and the field, it is unlikely that he will see any game action in 2008, but Crist is confident that he could do an adequate job if he had to.
"I think so. I think that I'm comfortable enough with the basics of our offense that I could go in there and do something if needed," he said. "But obviously I'm still miles away from where I need to be. Again, I just try to go in to each practice and each meeting just trying to get better and just trying to prepare myself as much as possible to be on the field and just be able to go and play well if I was called upon."