(UHND.com) – Brady Quinn desperately wanted to close out his Notre Dame career with a win over USC, one of the few things missing from his illustrious career at Notre Dame. Unfortunately for Quinn and the Irish, Notre Dame’s all time leading passer will leave South Bend with out a win over the Trojans, but Quinn did not go down without a fight and despite some rumblings that he performed poorly, he battled till the end.
A lot of pundits, and even some Notre Dame fans, have labeled Quinn’s performance this past weekend as “poor” or “sub-par.” Some have even suggested that he was outplayed by first time starter John David Booty Saturday night.
Maybe I’m missing something, but how can anyone objectively state that Booty had a better game than Quinn? Booty faced a much weaker defense and still managed to throw two interceptions – one to a defensive tackle. Booty also had the luxury of having some wide open receivers who made some fabulous catches (see Dwayne Jarrett’s one handed sideline grab).
Now I’m not saying Booty didn’t play well. He threw three touchdowns and led his team to a 20 point over the Irish, but he had the benefit of multiple gamebreakers on his offense. For the Notre Dame offense, Brady Quinn was the ONLY gamebreaker.
Quinn may have finished with a completion percentage under 50% completing just 22 of 45 passes, but how many of those passes were dropped? How many of those passes where throw aways when Quinn simply had no receivers open and defenders in his face?
In 45 pass attempts, Quinn did not turn the ball over once. He didn’t fumble. He didn’t throw a single interception. He did, however, throw three touchdowns (and had a 4th dropped) and threw for 279 yards.
Did Quinn have his best game? No, he didn’t, but did he play well enough to have Notre Dame in the game? He certainly did.
Quinn also played most of the second half in noticeable pain after getting hit as threw early in the third quarter. ABC showed Quinn warming up on the sideline and wincing as he threw, but he wouldn’t miss a play and would go on the throw two touchdowns after getting hurt.
So while the marquee win eludes Brady Quinn’s resume at Notre Dame, let’s not forget that Quinn was not surrounded by boat loads of offensive talent throughout his career. Even these past two years, especially this year, Quinn was still successful with, for the most part, two receivers.
Last year, after Rhema McKnight went down with an injury, Notre Dame’s wide receiving threats pretty much started and finished with Jeff Samardzija and Maurice Stovall. This year with Stovall gone, the Irish offense still mainly stuck with two wide receivers with McKnight and Samardzija.
This isn’t to say the Irish did not have talent on offense, but when a five wide receiver set includes a running back and a tight end – you aren’t exactly deep at receiver. Saturday against USC, Notre Dame five wide receiver was made up of Rhema McKnight, Jeff Samardzija, Marucs Freeman, and Chase Anastacio.
McKnight and Samardzija are both among the all time leaders in Notre Dame in receptions, yards, and touchdowns, but the other three receivers do not exactly strike fear for opposing defenses. Anastacio has just three career catches, Freeman 14, and while Walker has set Notre Dame receiving records for running backs, he’s more of a threat on screens since he does not have elite speed to play receiver.
Through all of the hits he’s taken this year, and throughout his career, you never hear Quinn complain about the beatings he’s taken, the dropped passes, or anything else. He’s taken losses like Saturday’s to USC with class and has always gotten right back up and gave it his all.
Notre Dame will have quarterbacks in the future who win the kind of games the Irish have lost over the last couple of years, and they will most likely have quarterbacks who break the records Quinn has set over the last two years, but the Irish will be hard pressed to find another quarter with as much heart and determination that we’ve seen on display on autumn Saturdays for the last four years.
So, while fantasize about seeing Jimmy Clausen, or whoever ends up starting, lead the Irish onto the field next year, let’s not forget how Quinn has battled for the Irish over the past four years and cherish whatever bowl game Notre Dame plays in since it will be the last time we will get to see Quinn put on his #10 jersey for the Irish.