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Brady Quinn

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Quinn leading Irish back into style


Brady Quinn



Associated Press


10/28/2005 1:13:44 PM


SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) - Brady Quinn doesn't think being quarterback for the Fighting Irish is a glamour position, even if he is helping bring Notre Dame back into style.


High profile, yes. High pressure, yes. Glamorous?


"I don't know if I look at it that way. It's a big responsibility, I think, especially a big pair of shoes to fill when you look at past players that have played here," he said. "You're talking about (Joe) Montana and (Joe) Theismann."


Not to mention Heisman Trophy winners Angelo Bertelli, John Lujack, Paul Hornung and John Huarte. It's a storied position with some uninspiring chapters in recent years.


Since 2000, the Irish have had a run of quarterbacks. Arnaz Battle and Gary Godsey lasted two games each as starter. Matt LoVecchio lasted 10 games and Carlyle Holiday started 24. LoVecchio and Holiday had some success, primarily because of strong Irish defences.


Notre Dame didn't have stability at quarterback until Quinn took over as a freshman in the fourth game of the 2003 season. Quinn had some individual success from the beginning - passing for 297 yards against Purdue in his first start and for 350 yards against Boston College in his fourth start.


But the Irish were an unspectacular 10-11 in Quinn's first two years as starter and the offence struggled mightily under coach Tyrone Willingham. During Quinn's freshman season, Notre Dame averaged 179 yards a game passing and was rated 92nd in the nation. Last year, the Irish averaged 218 yards and were rated 54th.


Quinn concedes it was difficult.


"Sometimes you wished you could have been put in more favourable positions where you wouldn't have to be thrust into a spot," Quinn said. "But I think any time you get playing time early you're able to see yourself grow up, progress."


Quinn progressed steadily and began setting some school records, but didn't look like he would add his name to the list of great Notre Dame quarterbacks until coach Charlie Weis - who helped Tom Brady develop into a two-time Super Bowl MVP in New England - arrived in February.


Quinn has gone from last season's 51st in the U.S. in passing, completing 16 passes a game, to fifth this season, completing 25 passes a game. His pass-completion rate has jumped from 54 percent last season to 66 per cent this year.


The ninth-ranked Irish (5-2), who are off this weekend, are averaging 340 yards passing per game. Quinn has the offence running efficiently and has the Irish in contention for a Bowl Championship Series berth.


Weis receives much of the credit for Notre Dame's success. That's fine with Quinn, who has never seemed totally comfortable in the limelight.


"We'd rather have the attention be on the coaches and have you guys talk about the things outside of us and the things we're just trying to do, because when it comes down to it, we're just trying to play a game and focus on our objectives," Quinn said.


Teammates say he has grown more confident.


"He just has a different look in his eyes," guard Dan Santucci said "He knows he's going to win."


They also say he has become a more vocal leader, both on and off the field. Centre Bob Morton said Quinn gives his teammates confidence.


"No matter what's happening in that huddle, even if we're set and ready to go, when he comes in, there's an added component of calmness in that huddle," Morton said. "That's a great thing to have in a quarterback."


Maybe more important than the impressive statistics or the trust of his teammates, Quinn has Weis' trust. That has allowed Weis to put games such as the victories over Purdue and Brigham Young into Quinn's hands.


"Some of the most experienced quarterbacks I've ever been around did not want to have a lot in their hands; they wanted you to just call the play and let's run it. Whereas there are other quarterbacks that are like sponges that just want more to do and you can count on them," Weis said. "He's one of those guys that is always there saying, 'Give me more to do.' So until he proves me wrong, I'm going to keep on giving him more to do."


Quinn showed he can handle the pressure in the 34-31 loss to top-ranked USC, leading the Irish on an 87-yard drive that would have gone down as one of the great moments in Notre Dame history if the Irish defence had held the Trojans on fourth-and-9 during the winning drive. Quinn was 4-for-4 passing for 53 yards during the Irish drive and dove for the go-ahead TD, making it 31-28, on a five-yard run with 2:04 left.


The only mistake Quinn made was scoring too fast, because the Trojans responded with a Matt Leinart touchdown with three seconds left.


For the first time since Ron Powlus stepped on campus in 1993, a Notre Dame player is being described as a Heisman hopeful - even if it is a long shot. But Quinn, a junior, could be a leading contender next season.


Weis believes Quinn has the skills to be a first-round draft pick. He also hopes Quinn has a shot at leading the Irish to a national championship next year.


"He comes to work every day," quarterbacks coach Peter Vaas said. "I don't think there's been a play on tape that we have watched that he hasn't taken a note. He is self-critical, he is self-analytical and if he continues to do those things and listen to the people around him and has the desire to get better, he will get better."

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