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There's really no place to hide

Even in another country, Quinn still in spotlight

Published: Sunday, April 09, 2006 -- The Truth, B5

Last updated: 4/9/2006 12:03:01 AM

By Ben Ford

Truth Staff

NOTRE DAME -- Brady Quinn spent Spring Break in the Cayman Islands -- he has the tan to prove it -- in order to vacation with his girlfriend and escape, if briefly, the notoriety that comes with being the starting quarterback at Notre Dame.


If total anonymity was what he was after, however, Quinn didn't travel far enough away.


"I got noticed a decent amount, but maybe not as much as I would if I would have went somewhere in the States or maybe Mexico or something like that," he said recently.


If the combined might of the publicity machines at Notre Dame and NBC is fully exercised between now and next fall, there might not be a corner of the world to which Quinn can safely flee. The school, with coach Charlie Weis' blessing, has already labeled him a Heisman Trophy candidate, and the media scrutiny will only intensify as the season approaches.


But that's OK with Quinn, who considers the Heisman a consolation prize next to the national championship trophy.


"You guys can say all you want about that, but it all reverts back to one thing -- it's about us winning every game and us winning a national championship," Quinn said. "Because if we put ourselves in a position to play for the national championship, all those good things will come with it."


Good things were in abundant supply during Quinn's junior season, in which he became Notre Dame's career passing leader in several categories. His adjustment to Weis' offensive system appeared seamless, but Quinn, like his coach, is more apt to look for the cracks in the sidewalk than pause to appreciate the overall smoothness.


"You obviously see in a game like Ohio State times when we didn't perform the way we needed to," Quinn said, referring to Notre Dame's loss in the Fiesta Bowl. "I think until you see us perform the way we're capable of week-in and week-out on a consistent basis, no one's going to be satisfied with where our offense is at.


"Until you are perfect every time you step on the field, you can always work on every part of your game."


Weis and Quinn were seemingly tethered to each other during spring practice a year ago, as the coach worked to acclimate the quarterback to his system. The two are working closely again this season, but off a new list of priorities, which includes stronger leadership and improving Quinn's play-action and screen passes.


"I would say he's as hard on me, or expects just as much, if not more," Quinn said.


According to Quinn, the Irish offense has no ceiling, but just how high it eventually reaches is still largely dependent on him.


"I think now we're at the expanding mode," Weis said. "We're just the opposite [of last spring]. Because of what he can handle ... it's going to allow me to do some things that I was not capable of doing last year because I didn't know whether they could handle it or not.


"There's a number of things you can do mentally in football that makes the game a lot easier. For the coach, it makes it easier because I can stand on the sideline and tell you what is going to happen before the ball is snapped, but it doesn't do any good if I am the one that knows and the quarterback doesn't know. So when he understands, usually you have a better chance."


Notre Dame has its best chance at greatness in years, but somewhat surprisingly, Quinn isn't impatient for the season to arrive. He plans on savoring his final college football season, just as he savored those days on the beach where he was -- almost, anyway -- just another guy.


"This is my last spring ball, this is my last time around," Quinn said. "That's really how I try to look at things. Not only do I try to take things in and enjoy them, I'm trying to make sure I get the most out of every possible opportunity I have."


Contact Ben Ford at bford@etruth.com.

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