2006 Notre Dame Position Analysis: Quarterback

Brady Quinn has dealt with a lot of pressure in his three years at Notre Dame and he has remained cool. In his final season, don’t expect much to change except the pressure. As expectations and accolades soar to unseen levels surrounding South Bend in the past 15 years, if there’s one guy who has the ability to deal with it, it’s Quinn.

Quinn, at 6-4, 231 lbs. is THE prototypical NFL quarterback. And has been said many times before, he has the advantage of getting NFL coaching two years before entering the league. Imagine if Quinn (a four-year Irish starter) had been coached by Charlie Weis for all four years. His numbers could have very well been at or near the top in every single historical passing category.

SUPERIOR – Quinn was by far the most improved player for the Irish (and possibly even the NCAA) during the 2005 season. But the progress he has made each year is a testament to his work ethic and abilities. Note the year to year improvement, not one year did he regress in any category. The advance in his efficiency in 2005 is astounding.

Brady Quinn Career Stats

2003 47.3 1831 9 15 93.52
2004 54.1 (+6.8%) 2586 (+29%) 17 (+47%) 10 (+33%) 125.87
2005 64.9 (+10.8%) 3919 (+34%) 32 (+47%) 5 (+50%) 158.4

RECORDS – The 2005 season saw Quinn break 25 individual or career marks for Notre Dame quarterbacks. In addition, Quinn holds a total of 30 individual or career marks, a total which already has him as (statistically) the greatest Notre Dame quarterback, ever. There is one significant record that Quinn has not yet reached.

  • Passing Yards (single game) – Joe Theisman (526) vs. Southern Cal, 1970

I would not expect Quinn to reach this mark against the same team Theisman did. This year’s Thanksgiving weekend match will call for a similar game plan to last year. Ball control will be emphasized, not because the Trojans have the offensive stars of a year ago, but because their defense could be the best in Los Angeles during the Pete Carroll era. Ball control by Notre Dame would force the Trojans defense to stay on the field and get them exhausted.

If Quinn is to challenge Theisman’s mark, he will do so against a team Notre Dame will be favored in, but against a team who just seems to stick around the entire ball game. Three teams on Notre Dame’s schedule I can see Quinn rolling up 500+ yards.

  • Georgia Tech – The season opener on the road with a mobile quarterback, an All-American wide receiver, a team with a history of upsetting teams in season openers, and a young and inexperienced defensive backfield put together to replace injuries could be the ingredients for Quinn and the Irish passing game to light up the scoreboard, responding to scores from the other sideline.
  • Michigan State – The shootout game that occupies ND’s schedule. Notre Dame will score 40+ no matter what Michigan State does. The only question is which Spartans team will show up?
  • UCLA – The Pac-10 is about shoot-em-out football. Let’s go over some Bruins numbers from a year ago. The Bruins gave up 40 to Cal, 41 to Wazzu, 52 to Arizona, 35 to ASU, 66 to USC and 38 to Northwestern. In Bruins games, both teams combined to top 65 points ten times, topped 79 points seven times, and topped 90 points once. So while UCLA may forget to board their defense (gave up 34 PPG a year ago) on the plane to South Bend, can they replace Drew Olsen, Maurice Drew and Mercedes Lewis on an offense that averaged 39 PPG.

As NCAA records go, a healthy season comparable to a year ago will have Quinn find himself in among the top ten, all-time NCAA leaders in passing yards and touchdowns.

If Quinn equals his 2005 passing yardage of 3,919, he will jump to 8th just behind Kliff Kingsbury. If Quinn incredibly increases his passing yards by 411 from a year ago, Quinn will find himself in 5th place in NCAA history.

If Quinn equals his 2005 touchdown figures, he will bump the 10th place tie between Peyton Manning and Byron Leftwich. You can easily see below what he has to do to jump further up the chart than 10th.

Career Records

Career Passing Yards Career Touchdown Passes
1. Timmy Chang, Hawaii – 17,072 (2000-04) 1. Ty Detmer, BYU – 121 (1988-91)
2. Ty Detmer, BYU – 15,031 (1988-91) 2. Timmy Chang, Hawaii – 117 (2000-04)
3. Philip Rivers, NC State – 13,484 (2000-03) 3. Tim Rattay, Louisiana Tech – 115 (1997-99)
4. Tim Rattay, Louisiana Tech – 12,746 (1997-99) 4. Danny Wuerffel, Florida – 114 (1993-96)
5. Luke McCown, Louisiana Tech – 12,666 (2000-03) 5. Chad Pennington, Marshall – 100 (1997-99)
6. Chris Redman, Louisville – 12,541 (1996-99) 6. Matt Leinart, USC – 99 (2002-05)
7. Kliff Kingsbury, Texas Tech – 12,429 (1999-02) 7. Kliff Kingsbury, Texas Tech – 95 (1999-02)
8. Byron Leftwich, Marshall – 11,903 (1998-02) 8. Philip Rivers, NC State – 95 (2000-03)
9. David Greene, Georgia – 11,528 (2001-04) 9. David Klingler, Houston – 91 (1988-91)
10. Gino Guidugli, Cincinnati – 11,453 (2001-04) 10. Peyton Manning, Tennessee – 89 (1994-97)
*BRADY QUINN, NOTRE DAME – 8,336 (2003-cont.) (tie) Byron Leftwich, Marshall – 89 (1998-02)
*BRADY QUINN, NOTRE DAME – 58 (2003-cont.)

EXPECTATIONS – Not since Ron Powlus, and Rick Mirer before him has a Notre Dame quarterback had such high expectations. Luckily for all parties, Quinn has a double-digit jersey number. He has turned himself and that jersey into its own legend instead of taking on the number of a past great trying to live up to the men who had gone before. Yet, Quinn’s cool is what will carry himself and his team through the chaos that occupies living rooms across the planet. It’s amazing an athlete can stay as focused as he has shown, considering the tech savvy media that is prevalent in today’s society. Consider cameras that hide in neckties, microphones as small as needlepoint, T1 uploads from cell phones and yet a three-year starter at the University of Notre Dame has been able to keep a clean record and improve his game and his team year-after-year, free of controversy.

Waiting in the wings are a youthful bunch of talented unknowns. With the transfer of David Wolke, the Irish will look to sophomore Evan Sharpley (6’2”, 207) and a pair of freshmen in the pocket-style Zach Frazer (6’4”, 215) and the fleet-footed Demetrius Jones (6’4”, 202). Brady Quinn has attempted a Notre Dame record 1,135 passes in collegiate games. Combined, Quinn’s three backups have thrown zero. Certainly a nightmare for writers trying to fill a preseason publication with pages of carefully researched data and thoughtful analysis. Instead of trying to dissect players with no college game experience, we’ll take a look at what it takes to develop a backup quarterback.

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