With less than three weeks until the Fighting Irish travel to Tallahassee, Head Coach Brian Kelly has officially announced Jack Coan as the starting quarterback. It is no surprise that the former Wisconsin Quarterback will take over the reins in South Bend. Coan has the most experience, and from all reports, he has been the favorite since his arrival on campus.
Jack Coan Statistics
Can Coan take his game to the next level in South Bend? During his time at Wisconsin, Coan went 297 for 437 (68%) with 3,278 yards, 23 passing touchdowns and 8 interceptions. In 2019, the former Badger Quarterback had a 70% completion percentage in 14 games, punctuated by a Rose Bowl berth. On the ground, Coan had 76 attempts for -11 yards (sacks do play a factor).
However, after watching the spring game, the Notre Dame Quarterback did show signs of mobility. Under the Irish Offense, I expect him to use his legs more than he did in Madison. Coan does not have the rushing pedigree like Ian Book, but fans should not expect a negative rushing total either.
The Irish Quarterback had a respectable spring game. During the Blue-Gold Game, Jack Coan went 18 for 31 with 197 total passing yards, and the longest completion was for 32 yards. He did not have any touchdowns or interceptions. It was just a small sample size for the Irish Quarterback, but a good performance, nonetheless.
OC Tommy Rees enters Year Two
The downfield passing attack looks to improve this year. But, without a doubt, the most extensive expansion Notre Dame needs to make in 2021 is the deep passing attack. There were numerous reasons why it suffered last fall, but many are projecting the Irish to take more shots of 20+ yards this season.
The landscape of college football has shifted. Superstar quarterbacks and playmaking wide receivers are now torching even the best defenses across the country consistently. The last two national champions, LSU and Alabama, had some of the finest receiving corps in college football history.
For the Irish to compete for a national championship, they will need to expand the passing attack.
Crucial receivers are returning for the Fighting Irish. Kevin Austin Jr. and a healthy Braden Lenzy will undoubtedly bolster the Irish passing game. In addition, Avery Davis finally comes back with an entire season at wide receiver under his belt after switching positions several times. Also returning is sophomore tight end Michael Mayer who is even stronger and more experienced than a year ago.
While Joe Wilkins Jr., Lawrence Keys III, Lorenzo Styles Jr., and others can impact the offense. Last year, the Irish Offense did not bring in much support off the bench to the receiving core. With the depth at the position, hopefully, the entire group will be utilized more this season.
Elite Running Back Duo Will Help
Williams and Tyree may be the best running back duo in football. Last year, Kyren Williams had 211 attempts for 1,125 yards (5.3 yards per carry) with 13 rushing touchdowns. While Chris Tyree had 73 attempts for 496 yards (6.8 yards per carry), and his longest rush was 94 yards.
Jack Coan will be blessed with a solid offensive line, talented receiving options, and accompanied by one of the best pair of running backs in the nation. As a result, the Notre Dame Quarterback is in a tremendous position to be successful this season.
Both running backs can help in the passing game. In 2020, Williams had 35 catches for 313 yards, and Tyree had 8 catches for 65 yards. I expect those numbers to increase this fall as both players continue their maturation process in South Bend.
Week 1 Starter is Solidified
No quarterback carousel this fall. There has not been a significant quarterback shakeup in South Bend since Ian Book replaced Brandon Wimbush in 2018. With that transition, Book became Notre Dame’s all-time win leader, and Coan is the clear choice to start in 2021.
There could have been a significant battle with Tyler Buchner, but due to an injury in high school, no senior season, and youth, Jack Coan was the apparent selection. But after watching the Blue-Gold Game, Buchner has a lot of potential, and Notre Dame fans should be ecstatic for his future with the Fighting Irish.
College Football has overlooked Jack Coan. In the preseason, Coan has been left off virtually every awards watch list. He has been unnoticed by everyone outside of Notre Dame fans. But, as I wrote earlier, Jack Coan led the Badgers to the Rose Bowl with a 70% completion percentage in 2019, which is no easy task.
Under Tommy Rees and the spread offense, I anticipate Coan to put up good numbers and give the Irish another shot at the College Football Playoffs.
The Irish are #7 in the Coaches Poll. Notre Dame made the playoffs in 2020 with a run-heavy offense and essentially no downfield passing attack. If Jack Coan can expand the field with his arm, it will only add another dimension for the Irish.
With the talented group of skill position players returning and Jack Coan’s ability to sit in the pocket, I am excited to see this offense in 2021.