There is no ambiguity in Dayne Crist's goal heading into 2009.
"It's kind of hit-or-miss for me. There's nothing else that's very tangible other than playing time," Crist said. "That's the one thing that I haven't had yet and that's what I want."
As spring practice has begun, Crist's intentions are clear.
Crist will be a sophomore in 2009 with four years of eligibility after sitting out as a freshman. With last year's backup, Evan Sharpley, concentrating on baseball, Crist becomes Jimmy Clausen's immediate understudy, but does not plan on playing that role long.
"I'm coming to compete. I'm trying to go in there and just apply everything that I've learned in the offseason," he said. "With a year of experience in practice last year, I just hope that translates into a good spring and then a good camp."
Head coach Charlie Weis stamped out any idea of a quarterback controversy, but he does not want that to preclude Crist from competing.
"I don't think that Dayne wants to sit there and wait until Jimmy graduates to say it's time for me to play. So I think Dayne is coming into the spring to try to make it tough on Jimmy and I think that's exactly what he should be doing," said Weis.
"He understands, Jimmy is the starting quarterback, he's number two. He understands that if he intends to beat him out, he'll have to play better than him. That would be a nice problem to have to deal with.
While Weis made it clear that Clausen will be the starter, he will be pushed in ways that Brady Quinn was not.
"Jimmy is the starter, it's his job to lose. Now, Brady didn't have any competition when I was here," Weis said. "I think the best thing that's going to happen for Jimmy is the fact that he's got a guy pushing him. The guy pushing him that's trying to unseat him and I think that that will only make him better as well."
Crist has already started the pushing.
"We're pushing each other and at the same time, we're helping each other. Jimmy's been a great help to me and I think that I have been able to help Jimmy a little bit," he said. "We're good friends, we help each other out, but when it comes down to it, we're both competitors and we're both competing for the job."
Crist did not come to South Bend as a freshman looking to wait a year to compete, but he has no regrets about doing so now.
"I'm never going to be pessimistic about that year. I learned tons and tons of stuff that I didn't know before and more importantly just feel more comfortable in the offense," he said. "I've got a year of going to school in the offense and getting coaching from Coach Weis and Coach Powlus."
You can add Sharpley to that list as one of his chief duties last season was to make sure that he got the new kid up to speed.
"He was extremely helpful. Evan is a great guy on and off the field, an incredible mentor," said Crist. "He was very instrumental in my development last year and I thank him a lot for that."
The sophomore-to-be believes that the experience will help him now.
"I feel much more comfortable. Now it's going in there and not freaking out walking up to the line and just being able to go and play," he said. "I feel comfortable with my reads and just being able to go in there and just play football."
Crist is not going to put any added pressure on himself this spring as he tries to prove that he should be the guy.
"I need to go out and just compete on every play and stress the importance of each play," he said. "I need to execute in all of my progressions and reads and everything like that and play within the offense and I think I should be okay.
"I'm just trying to do everything I can to put myself in the best position."