There is a certain “it’s too soon” aspect to so quickly be breaking down film of a potential Ian Book replacement quarterback. After spending the better part of the last three years looking at the prospects of the offense through the lens of Books abilities, it’s jarring to think of someone else in the role.
But, everything moves on so that’s what has been going on since former Wisconsin starting quarterback Jack Coan announced his commitment to play for Notre Dame in 2021 last night. The immediate upside was hitting “Wisconsin Michigan 2019” into the YouTube search engine and watching that beauty of a contest a couple times over. If you haven’t yet, go ahead and check that one out, it’s a tremendous watch. And now that our quarterback posted a 35-14 victory over the Wolverines in 2019, the other game that shall not be mentioned no longer matters.
I am happy to report that after watching the most Wisconsin football I ever have over the last 24 hours, it is my opinion that Coan is good at the sport, and it’s nice that he wants to play quarterback for us.
Big Game Experience
In his only full season as the starter, Coan’s team started 10-2 and finished 10-4, after some unfortunate fumbling and a special teams blunder cost him a Rose Bowl victory against Justin Herbert and the Oregon Ducks. He played at #8 Minnesota in a blizzard for the right to play in the Big 10 title game. (Where he dropped dimes).
He led Ohio State 21-17 in the second half of the Big 10 title game before ultimately succumbing to the playoff bound Buckeyes. He presided over a massacre of #11 Michigan as well. Those are some high quality wins over highly ranked opponents as well as some big stages. Notre Dame opens at Florida State next season, which is bound to carry some excitement given it’s a season opener and fans could be out in full force. Coan is a guy we can feel comfortable won’t be rattled.
The lack of mobility in a this offense is going to be jarring. They’ve had a legit running option at quarterback since 2014. On the plus side, no more 3rd and seven quarterback sweeps! As a former lacrosse player though, Coan can move around if need be and the opportunity presents itself. He’s nimble enough to evade a single rusher and since teams aren’t going to game plan around stopping his legs, he can seize on opportunities the defense gives him. And he was able to do it against teams like Ohio State and Michigan, some fast, aggressive defenses.
Poise In The Pocket, Anticipation, Decision Making
These are in my opinion Coan’s greatest strengths and what make him a good quarterback at this level. Because Coan doesn’t have the legs to get him out of trouble, he depends more on making solid pre-snap reads and going through his progressions. If he wasn’t able to do these things he wouldn’t be a player at this level.
His decision making and being able to diagnose where to go with the ball and get it out accurately is the trade off on the improvisation. He doesn’t need to improvise as much because he does better within the framework of the play.
This is a quarterback who threw for over 2,700 yards, posted a 69% completion percentage, an 18 to 5 touchdown to interception ratio, and posted a higher passer rating than Ian Book in both his 2019 and 2020 seasons, and was just shy of Books 2018 rating. There are questions about his ability to throw the ball over top of the defense–which is sure to thrill everyone!–but that’s nothing new to this offense. He’s a quarterback whose skills can be built around and there is no reason to think the receiving talent is any better at Wisconsin than it is at Notre Dame. This is a player the Irish can win with, right away.