Ryan Greene runs — and plays — with his head for Notre Dame

SHARE Ryan Greene runs — and plays — with his head for Notre Dame

NILES — Despite the importance of a quarterback’s health to a football team, Notre Dame coach Mike Hennessey didn’t seem worried after watching Ryan Greene relentlessly charge down the field.

“He brings it to people,” Hennessey said of his senior quarterback. “If a guy’s running like that, you don’t worry about it.”

Greene’s grit cost him on a second-and-seven early in the fourth quarter Friday against Marist, when he ran through one hit before his helmet was knocked off on a second hit. He had to sit out the ensuing third-and-three as a result.

No one on the Dons’ sideline seemed too bothered, however.

“He is a survivor,” senior running back Chris James said. “He did all that for the team, sacrificing himself for the first down.”

It wasn’t the only time Greene took a risk. Though he never quite pulled a John Elway — flying through two tacklers to win his first championship in Super Bowl XXXII — he ran headfirst all night. Sliding clearly wasn’t in the senior’s mind.

“He’s great,” James said. “That’s my boy. Running behind Greene, he’s definitely a bruiser. There’s some plays where it’s like, ‘Greene, don’t run the ball,’ and he just runs somebody over and it’s like, ‘Alright Greene, good

job.’ ”

Beyond possessing the toughness to run the ball, Greene also showed off plenty of speed in Notre Dame’s 45-35 victory. The quarterback finished with 59 yards on 10 carries.

“He understands now when he’s got to tuck it and run,” Hennessey said. “And he’s a heck of a runner.”

Just as important, Greene seems unfazed by pressure in the pocket, which has been particularly critical with an inexperienced offensive line protecting him.

On the Dons’ second drive of the third quarter, they faced a third-and-five. Greene took a big hit but was able to find senior wide receiver Matt Galloway past the marker. He later narrowly avoided a sack on second-and-seven from the Notre Dame 40-yard line, quickly firing a pass to James. Notre Dame would take a 25-14 lead at the end of the drive.

“He’s got great poise,” Hennessey said. “He understands what he’s doing with the offense, and he understands that he’s out there to make plays and not to sit back and not make mistakes. You’ve got to take some challenges.”

His fourth-down conversion with 2:48 remaining and the Dons up 3 was a typical demonstration of the senior’s skill set. He was immediately flushed out of the pocket by two defenders, and angling backwards and to the right, Greene slung an 11-yard pass to Galloway.

“A lot of adrenaline going on that play,” Greene said. “The game was riding high on that play. We ran an action pass. I had a D-I player chasing after me on that play and got rid of him and made a big pass. That was probably the biggest pass of the game right there.”

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