Montana outduels Crist in Blue-Gold game
SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Nate Montana, unfamiliar with the spotlight, sheepishly approached the podium following Saturday's Blue-Gold spring football game at the University of Notre Dame.
"Do I just talk?" he asked.
"No, they'll ask you questions," an Irish official responded.
Son of Joe had himself another enjoyable spring game, (albeit against a mostly second-team defense) out-dueling probable starting quarterback Dayne Crist. Montanta completed 18 of 30 passes for 223 yards and three touchdowns, leading the Gold team to a 27-19 victory over the Blue squad.
Montana shined last April, then left Notre Dame for Pasadena City College to continue his development under center. Coach Brian Kelly, making his debut at Notre Dame Stadium, liked what he saw from Montana, though he'd prefer to see it on a routine basis.
"I thought Nate was pretty good," he said. "Nate does some things really well, and then I'll lose him for a couple of plays. It's more about him playing (more)."
Saturday was more about Crist, who finished 20-for-31 for 172 yards and one score, throwing two interceptions -- only one of which was his doing after receiver Duval Kamara dropped an easy ball.
As charming as Montana's performance was, it isn't unrealistic to believe this is the last time we hear from him. Kelly brought in a good crop of quarterbacks, some of whom won't arrive until the fall, and the walk-on with legendary lineage just isn't consistent enough to make a lasting impact.
It was the most live snaps Crist's taken at Notre Dame and his surgically-repaired knee held up as well as his wits, indicating he's ready to take on the life-in-a-fish-bowl challenge that comes with being the face of the Irish program.
"A world ahead right now," he said. "It was a little overwhelming at first, but now everything has started to slow down a little bit, and everyone has been able to kind of settle in and just go out and play."
Kelly was less concerned about grading Crist's performance as he was with the process as a whole.
"I thought he did some good things, threw the ball in the seam, the vertical, push throws that we've tried to get into our offense quite a bit," he said. "As he feels more comfortable, he'll be able to slide and extend plays longer."
Kelly did do a decent job balancing the teams to gauge just exactly where his squad is going into the summer. And there were plenty of positives to take away from the performance in front of 27,241 fans.
"You can look good, you can run fast, you can do all those things," Kelly said. "But can you play the game of football? Today, we intentionally wanted a competitive situation ... so we could find out who are those guys who have the innate ability to play the game."
A few guys who did just that were:
Closing the door on the draft
During the first quarter of the spring game, it was announced that former Irish offensive tackle Sam Young was selected by the Dallas Cowboys 179th overall in the sixth round of the NFL Draft. Dallas surely was impressed with Young's durability after the Florida native set an Irish record for career starts with 50.
In the second quarter, fellow lineman Eric Olsen, who shifted to center as a senior last season, was picked 183rd overall in the sixth round by Denver. Olsen started 31 consecutive games, including three different positions, to close out his career in South Bend.
Safety Kyle McCarthy went undrafted.