SAN ANTONIO - Dayne Crist showed potential fit for Jimmy Clausen's successor.
But whether or not the sophomore quarterback could be ready to take the reins next season should Clausen enter the NFL Draft was thrown into question Saturday night during Notre Dame's 40-14 rout of Washington State in the Alamodome.
Early in the fourth quarter on what figured to be Crist's final series with the Irish ahead by five touchdowns, Notre Dame's back-up quarterback got tangled in a tackle and went down with a knee injury. The severity of that injury is unclear, but Charlie Weis said Crist will have an MRI on Monday.
"He thought that he heard something (in the knee)," Weis said. "It was definitely a knee. He said, 'I have loose knees anyway.' He was cautiously optimistic."
The injury tinted the night for Clausen, who re-aggravated his turf toe in the third quarter but still finished 22-of-27 for 268 yards and two touchdowns. Clausen also helped Crist get over some third quarter jitters when the back-up short hopped a pass to Golden Tate that could have turned into a big gain.
"I just kept telling him just go out there, you know what to do, make a play and have some fun," Clausen said. "To see him make that pass, a frozen rope, that was spectacular."
As much as Crist has impressed this season with his mobility, making the zone read play a future staple of Weis' playbook, the former five-star recruit fired a laser to John Goodman early in the fourth quarter that turned into a 64-yard touchdown. It was the first touchdown pass of Crist's career and the first touchdown catch of Goodman's.
But less than two minutes later, Crist's night and potentially much more was over. He finished 2-of-6 for 69 yards and that touchdown. Again, Clausen tried to get his teammate and childhood friend from California in the right frame of mind.
"He was pretty bummed," Clausen said. "I just told him to keep his head up. He'll be back soon enough. Dayne's a real big competitor and he'll be back real soon. Hopefully he'll be back next week.
"I've known him for so long, it's just heartbreaking."