Freshman Tommy Rees of Lake Forest, who threw four touchdown passes in place of Crist against Tulsa, is Notre Dame's starting quarterback. The Irish are off this weekend and will play No. 8 Utah (8-0) on Nov. 13 at home. Junior Nate Montana will back up Rees. Kelly said one of two freshmen, Andrew Hendrix or Luke Massa, will be the No. 3 quarterback against Utah.
It's the second knee injury in less than a year for Crist. He suffered a torn ACL in his right knee on Oct. 31, 2009 against Washington State.
In his first year as a starter, Crist completed 174-of-294 passes (59 percent) for 2,033 yards, 15 touchdowns and seven interceptions.
''I told him sometimes we look for answers, but sometimes there are no answers,'' Kelly said. ''I told him, 'You've been through this before. You've already exhibited the strength, the mental and physical toughness to get through this. As difficult as it is, you've got the strength to get through it again.'''
Rees, the son of former Bears director of college scouting Bill Rees, was 33-of-54 for 334 yards, four touchdowns and three interceptions against Tulsa. He became the first freshman at Notre Dame to throw four touchdown passes in one game. But his interception in the end zone from the Tulsa 19 was the clinching blow in the loss.
''He's a young man we can win with. He showed that [Saturday],'' Kelly said. ''It's not going to be flawless. We can clean up some things and help him a lot in certain situations.
''Our game plan [for Tulsa] was established. He had to run some things that were maybe a little bit out of his league. But he handled himself very, very well. We can play winning football with him.''