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September 15, 2010
The last time Dayne Crist took a blow to the head comparable to this, he didn't remember anything until he woke up in his bed the following morning with a concussion.
The shot he took from Michigan safety Jordan Kovacs early in the first quarter last Saturday blurred his vision and put him out of commission for the rest of the first half before he returned to action for the final 30 minutes of Notre Dame's 28-24 loss to the Wolverines.
Crist rallied the Irish from a 21-7 deficit to a 24-21 lead, only to see the Wolverines score the game-winning touchdown with 27 seconds remaining.
Wednesday afternoon, Crist reflected upon the hit from Kovacs, his distorted memory of what happened in the immediate aftermath, and his current status as the Irish prepare for a night game at Michigan State this weekend.
"I'm 100 percent now," Crist said. "When I was able to return to the game, I felt that I was fine and that I could compete at a high level. I just wanted to be out there with the rest of my guys and finish the game. Afterwards, I felt fine and I got progressively better."
Indeed, Crist felt pretty good in the second half, otherwise he wouldn't have been able to rally the Irish from a 14-point deficit with 53- and 95-yard touchdown passes to TJ Jones and Kyle Rudolph respectively.
But there were some shaky moments after a helmet-to-helmet hit on a 19-yard run that scrambled Crist's world. Crist took seven more snaps in the drive after the hit, completing 3-of-4 passes, running for a 12-yard score that was negated by penalty, and then ultimately scoring a touchdown from one yard out.
"I just remember getting up, being a little dazed, trying to shake it off and moving on to the next play," Crist said. "It was blurry to the point where I couldn't see anything out of my right eye. I pushed through it and tried to finish the drive. Then after it was done, it all kind of hit me, and that's when the trainers (stepped in)."
Notre Dame's Dr. Jim Moriarity and head trainer Jim Russ determined that Crist should remain sidelined at least through halftime. Tommy Rees and Nate Montana played quarterback in the next eight series. Crist began loosening up with 6:12 left in the first half, but did not campaign to enter the game with three seconds left in the half and the Irish on the Michigan three-yard line.
"If it was up to me, I would have wanted to be out there the entire time," Crist said. "But
Crist did his best to make a contribution to Rees and Montana, but it took a while for the cobwebs to clear.
"As time went on, I was trying to help them," Crist said. "But initially they had me kind of removed from everything. They were running tests and trying to see where I was. When I could, I offered support and counsel to those guys. Obviously, I wish I could have done more."
The day after the game, Brian Kelly called Crist's experience second-half performance a coming-of-age moment in his football career.
"It's going to come with experience," Crist said. "It's another situation I was presented with so that was a challenge. Just by being out there, I'm gaining more experience that is very valuable.
"We wish we would have come out on top, but you just have to learn what you can from it, move on and come through the next time you're in that situation."