Saturday, August 4, 2012

Total package? Coaches say QB Dayne Crist has all intangibles

Head coach Charlie Weis walks past as quarterback Dayne Crist pulls the offense into the huddle during practice on Thursday, Aug. 2, 2012.

Head coach Charlie Weis walks past as quarterback Dayne Crist pulls the offense into the huddle during practice on Thursday, Aug. 2, 2012.



Head coach Charlie Weis walks past as quarterback Dayne Crist pulls the offense into the huddle during practice on Thursday, Aug. 2, 2012.

Throw. Run. Lead. Console. Counsel.

The many jobs of a quarterback run the gamut of actions and emotions, and the way each is executed, as well as the demeanor with which the quarterback operates, can make or break a team.

Teams fortunate enough to have an unflappable presence taking snaps have the chance to win a lot of games. Teams with a signal caller as temperamental as he is accurate could be in for a long and unpredictable season.

Few places have seen the ebbs and flows of the quarterback position like Kansas University, which has enjoyed wild success from John Hadl, Bobby Douglass, David Jaynes and Todd Reesing, but also seen as many as three or four quarterbacks start during a couple of different, difficult seasons.

While there are plenty of obvious advantages that go along with having a reliable quarterback, the benefits go far beyond scoring points. Quality quarterback play can do wonders for every position on the field, and with fifth-year senior Dayne Crist slated to start for the Jayhawks this fall, KU’s assistant coaches recently weighed in on how Crist can be a factor all over the field.

“To me, it’s No. 1,” defensive coordinator Dave Campo said of top QB play. “When I was the head coach of the (Dallas) Cowboys, I didn’t have a quarterback. I believe you really can’t win without a quarterback. You have to have a leader that steps out of that huddle and commands some respect and has some talent. And I think the guys that we’ve got in here are beyond my expectation.”

Although Campo was snake-bitten as a head coach, he was coaching defense in Dallas when Hall of Famer Troy Aikman led America’s Team to multiple Super Bowl titles. Few have called Aikman one of the finest physical passers to play the game, but Campo said Aikman was stellar at running a team.

“That’s what he did,” Campo said. “He came in, and he was in control from the very beginning, and I think that’s a big part of it.”

Sounds a little like the guy KU has calling the shots now.

Even though Crist’s five-star ranking and Notre Dame-signing days are behind him, he’s arguably the best pure quarterback to call plays at Kansas in years. From his prototypical 6-foot-4, 235-pound frame to his advanced intelligence and understanding of both the game and KU coach Charlie Weis, Crist’s mere presence on the roster, within the huddle and in the locker room, already has made a positive impact on the Jayhawks.

“It’s huge,” tight ends coach Jeff Blasko said, “especially in this offensive system. It’s a quarterback-driven system. For it to have any success, you need someone who is skilled at that position.”

While Crist is new to several of the KU coaches, players like him are not. Nearly all of Weis’ assistants have worked with at least one big-time quarterback during their careers. Aikman. Brady. Clausen. Harbaugh. Reesing. Tebow. Quinn. And those are just the headliners.

Quarterbacks coach Ron Powlus actually was one of those QBs, and during his four years as Notre Dame’s starting QB, Powlus learned not only what it took to be a productive leader, but also why.

“The quarterback doesn’t have to be the best quarterback ever,” Powlus said. “But when he is the guy the team rallies around, that’s when you have an opportunity to have a good team. It’s hard to have a team succeed when there are quarterback issues — hard, hard, hard, because all eyes are on the quarterback all the time.”

Powlus said he had not seen anything negative from Crist since the moment he arrived.

“Leadership, experience … you can tell that he’s been there, done that,” Powlus said. “He had a very good understanding of our offensive system, which kind of permeated through the rest of the offensive players.”

The guys he’s throwing or handing off to are not the only players on the team who can benefit from Crist’s confidence.

“When you have a great leader at the quarterback position, it helps not just your offense, but it helps your defense,” wide receivers coach Rob Ianello said.

Put a different way by running backs coach Reggie Mitchell: “I think it does everything for a team. If you look at the teams that are successful in college, they all have a great quarterback, and they have a great quarterback that’s a leader.”

Although he still must show it when the lights come on and the games count, Crist has done most things right so far, including making himself one of the gang. That has been particularly helpful for the guys on the offensive line, with whom Crist made it a point to lock down a strong bond right away.

“That’s everything,” said O-Line coach Tim Grunhard, who played 11 seasons in the NFL. “The offensive line and the quarterback, their relationship is closer than any other relationship on the team.”

So whether it’s the guys he’s throwing to, the hogs blocking for him or the players on the other side of the ball, the Jayhawks’ success this season is tied directly to Crist. Because of that, the KU players and coaches are leaning on him like few KU players have been leaned on before.

“They are,” Powlus said. “And it is critically important because he’s the guy that’s talking in the huddle, he’s the guy that’s leading the team, he’s the guy that says, ‘Follow me, let’s go.’ When you have someone in that position that you can rely on as a good-character kid, a hard-working kid, a mentally tough kid — all the intangible factors — it puts you in a good position because it sets a mind-set for your whole team.”


escaped_labrat 9 years, 3 months ago

Can hardly stand the wait for the season to begin. I think that says a lot about the agony of the past two years....ready for a new start!

Terry N Tom Denner 9 years, 3 months ago

My son & I will be going to as many home games as we can this season. Can't wait to see the looks on the other teams faces when the Hawks smack the smirks & smiles off their faces.

tical523 9 years, 3 months ago

We have a great QB and a very very good O Line, that alone makes an offense solid and then think about our stable of RB's. . . Pierson, Bourbon, Cox and Sims, all legit Big XII running backs. Like Grundhart said "we will be able to run the ball". I do not know about our deep passing threat until I see Omigie step up or Josh Ford play some games but our short passing game will be lethal with Crist to Patterson, Pick and Beshears. I have a buddy on the team and he has said several times how lethal Crist is at throwing dink and dunks and leading the reciever perfectly so a lot of RAC yards are possible and you only need ten for a first down so we could stay on the field a long time and frustrate defenses. Can't wait, and I'm also jayhawk optimistic about our D.

number1jayhawker 9 years, 3 months ago

That's called YACs. Yards After Catch


Dan Pawlowski 9 years, 3 months ago

RACs sound more formidable than YACs. RAC sounds like inflicting pain. YAC sounds like your puking.

Dan Pawlowski 9 years, 3 months ago

I am assuming you were responding to number1 ?

tical523 9 years, 3 months ago

sorry, glad you got my point though. ROCK CHALK

Marcia Parsons 9 years, 3 months ago

I agree about the defense. At least they will have a plan this year, and know where they are supposed to be. I'd expect them to be so relieved they will give it everything they have.

LAJayhawk 9 years, 3 months ago

They will be organized and in shape.... that's like a 400,000% improvement right there!

KGphoto 9 years, 3 months ago

I was saying this the last two years. If your QB isn't one of the captains, you're dead in the water. Webb tried as hard as he could but he just didn't have it. I don't think it was entirely his fault either. To be a leader you have to be confident. To be confident you have to know exactly what's going on at all times. I don't think coach Long knew what was going on so...

Crist obviously knows more about the offense than any other player. Part of that is his experience with the Xs and Os, but part of it is his experience with Weis. He already knows Weis' expectations, and what kind of prep is needed to fulfill them.

This is the kind of stuff that normally takes years to develop. I can't believe we find ourselves in a position to have immediate expertise and leadership in a turnaround year. And then to have another excellent QB in waiting that can use this year to develop his own leadership at KU.

This is gonna be good.

--Unrelated-- Russia is playing USA in Bball right now.

KGphoto 9 years, 3 months ago

Oh crud. That's Volleyball, not basketball. False alarm. But don't forget to tune in for those Sasha Kaun games!

danmoore 9 years, 3 months ago

If Weis is the coach he's supposed to be 5 wins is a reasonable expectation. Of the 10 losses from last season only 4 were winnable. A good coach should be able to turn those 4 losses into atleast 2 wins. I'm counting my chickens before they hatch. Two non-con wins and 2 conference wins plus one surprise win.

LAJayhawk 9 years, 3 months ago

I still can't believe Crist is on this team.

vd 9 years, 3 months ago

Put a different way by running backs coach Reggie Mitchell: “I think it does everything for a team. If you look at the teams that are successful in college, they all have a great quarterback, and they have a great quarterback that’s a leader.”

Who were the QBs in last years BCS championship game?

qringer 9 years, 3 months ago

Have no idea, but MAN were they AWESOME;

gratefulhawk 9 years, 3 months ago

jayhawk on the hat, JAYHAWK on the hat! and red legs.

Micky Baker 9 years, 3 months ago

Outstanding article. Matt Tait is becoming a super star.

Micky Baker 9 years, 3 months ago

I think that it is true that if the QB has all the intangibles and leads on and off the field, like Tood Reesing and Mark Williams did in the past 20 years (not to leave out guys like Chip Hillary who was also impressive), a team has a good chance of winning a lot of games. I don't think our offense is short on talent, and I think we have some legit talent on defense at safety, Linebacker, Defensive End, and I like Greg Brown a lot. He may be the strongest guy on the team pound for pound.

I am very excited about seeing this team play this year.

Micky Baker 9 years, 3 months ago

Here is what I'm thinking about this team. It is like when Rich Gannon took over the QB position for the Oakland Raiders. Except, I think Dayne Crist is better than Rich Gannon.

Tim Brown was probably headed for the Hall of Fame, but when Jerry Rice paired up with him, you had two of the most intelligent receivers any team could have on the field at one time. I have met a personal friend of Daymond Patterson who says Daymond is intelligent and very talented, so all I can say is Daymond could be KU's Tim Brown. I like Beshears too. Kale Pick could be the Jerry Rice of the combo however.

There are couple of deep threats that the team could have with Shepperd and Ford. Get those guys the ball in stride, and even a fast defense will be seeing the back of their Jerseys as they cross the goal line. Then mix that in with the deep backfield and the experienced offensive line. This offense could be very good this year and the years to follow.

The defense looks as if it's going to improve a lot. If the defense is a pleasant surprise, other teams are going to regret running up the score on KU the past two seasons. It could be the other way around this year.

Jeffery Barrett 9 years, 3 months ago

Did you just compare Kale Pick to Jerry Rice????

Lance Hobson 9 years, 3 months ago

Lots of coaching experience running this team and lots of excitement about Crist and some of these others, I just hope he doesn't get hurt too early and that our defense can tackle someone.

TXJAYHAWK7 9 years, 3 months ago

I wonder how the rest of the quarterbacks performed this summer. Id love ot see the workout sheet and see who actually led the way for the quarterbacks. If Dayne is at 10% the other guys should be on target or better .

Brad Watson 9 years, 3 months ago

Crist is the first blue chipper to ever come to Kansas...I don't even think the great Dave Jaynes was a blue if Dayne can just stop from fumbling the ball between his legs on the goal line like during the USC game I think we might see an eventual KU Hall of Fame guy....I like this Crist kid... always have...he hes been snake bit a few times and Brian Kelly had no patience...though I think the personalities of the two never were there.And Charlie keep Dayne away from the Country Club Plaza...we dont need a Jaynes repeat..though that happened when he was with the Chiefs...Wow.Go Dayne Crist..or it it Cryst...either way..we are behind you a1000 percent..and thanks for choosing our school!!!!

danmoore 9 years, 3 months ago

What happened to Jaynes at the plaza?

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