Blue and Gold Illustrated

February 2021

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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Page 18 of 39 FEBRUARY 2021 19 "He doesn't have the strongest arm in college football, but he can make a majority of the throws. He's a pretty accurate guy, and Coan has played on some big stages with Wisconsin at the Rose Bowl and Big Ten cham- pionship game." "He's super intelligent," Hoss added. "The coaches [at Wisconsin] will tell you that he processes infor- mation quickly and can command an offense. He knows what the defense is doing, will get you into good situ- ations and won't turn the ball over. Those are his best attributes. "He's a kid who will make the right throw. He's not going to force things and put your defense in a bad posi- tion. If he needs to make the big throw downfield, he'll make that throw." It's plausible to assume Coan will be Notre Dame's starting quarterback when the Irish hit the road to face Florida State to open the 2021 season Sept. 5 — and also when head coach Brian Kelly's squad faces Coan's for- mer team at Soldier Field Sept. 25. However, NFL Draft scout Matt Miller notes that Coan should not be automatically handed Notre Dame's starting quarterback job. "I like his short-to-intermediate passing accuracy game, but he's just not a big downfield thrower," Miller noted. "If you have a top-tier recruit coming in, I wouldn't look at Jack Coan as having locked up the start- ing job. I would keep an eye on that. "I don't think you pencil him as the surefire starter. If there's some- one with the ability to unseat him, it could be a wide-open race." Coan has 18 starts under his belt, while the four other Irish scholarship quarterbacks — true freshmen Tyler Buchner and Ron Powlus III, sopho- more Drew Pyne and junior Brendon Clark — combine for zero. Assuming there is spring practice in a couple of months, it will be a crowded quar- terback room, with Coan, Buchner and Powlus all expected to enroll in February. "In the position where Notre Dame is where they're trying to bridge the gap between Ian Book and the future of the program at the position, I don't know if it gets much bigger than Jack Coan," McNamara said. "He's bring- ing experience, is a proven winner and will be a really good addition for Notre Dame." When Notre Dame recruited Coan, there were no guarantees that he'd be the starting quarterback. That's prob- ably how he'd prefer it, too. "Jack's mentality is that he's going in to compete for the job," Hoss said. "There's no expectation that any- thing will be handed to him. I don't think he'd want it that way. He's a kid who believes that everything in life is earned — nothing is given. "There's no question that the ex- perience is light [at quarterback for Notre Dame], but that doesn't mean that there's not great players there. Jack is ready to go in and compete. That's his mindset. He does have 18 starts in the Big Ten and has played in the Rose Bowl. "His high and his low — you don't know the difference between them. You don't rattle him. He just contin- ues to work. I know Notre Dame is a huge program with a ton of expecta- tions, and the expectation he'll put on himself will be greater than what anyone can put on him." It seems the Irish are getting a total football junkie in Coan, which is ben- eficial when considering he's coming into a brand-new system. "As soon as he gets there, I'd as- sume he'll be getting in touch with the wide receivers to get on the field and learn how they run their routes and concepts," Hoss noted. "He won't 'go out' other than hanging out with the team. There's no social life for him; he's going to eat, breathe and sleep football. "He'll probably be at the facility as much as — if not more than — the staff because he'll want to learn the offense as quick as he can to get himself the best opportunity to play. He'll be a great teammate and he's always been that way." When Coan announced his inten- tions to transfer to Notre Dame on Jan. 4, he did so on Twitter. His most recent previous tweet before that was back on June 14, 2017. Coan is all about football. "Jack is a very serious kid," McNa- mara said. "He's extremely driven; he's football 24/7. He's not about hype. He's tough to nail down for a reporter because he's really just about his teammates, working his butt off and doing things the right way." Coan was listed as a four-star re- cruit and the nation's No. 241 overall prospect in the 2017 class by Rivals, and was tabbed as New York's Ga- torade Player of the Year as a senior. He set Long Island career records for passing yards (9,787) and touchdown throws (128), while also rushing for 2,551 yards (6.54 average) and 33 scores. ✦ "During conversations with Jack and what we were looking at in a school, his goals and who could coach him up to possibly get to the next level, we felt that Notre Dame had so much to offer. In addition, it's the school he was originally committed to as a 10th grader. It was just like it came full circle." SAYVILLE (N.Y.) HIGH HEAD COACH ROB HOSS ON COAN Bridging The Gap Graduate transfers Nick McCloud and Ben Skowronek played vital roles in Notre Dame's 2020 success, and that is also expected to be the case for quarterback Jack Coan with the 2021 Fighting Irish. McCloud, a cornerback, and Skowronek, a wide receiver, were teams captains at North Carolina State and Northwestern, respectively, who had their senior seasons in 2019 cut short by injuries, thereby giving each a medical red- shirt season. Both saw an opportunity at positions of need at Notre Dame in 2020, and opted to use that final college season there. Neither quite moved the needle for NFL scouts, but both provided too much big-time experience and quality pro- duction during their careers to be valued as just stopgap measures. They were instrumental pieces at positions of dire need and helped Notre Dame achieve a second College Football Playoff bid in three years. Coan likewise had his 2020 senior year at Wisconsin halted by injury. With 18 career starts at a Power Five school and plenty of ex- perience on grand stages, though, he provides a needed bridge to 2022 inside Notre Dame's extremely green 2021 quarterback room. • Junior Brendon Clark has attempted four passes in mop-up duty his first two seasons, and his "cranky" knee might require offseason surgery that could limit him this spring. • Sophomore Drew Pyne — at 5-11½, 194 pounds — needs much more physical develop- ment and took only 18 snaps as a freshman. • Incoming freshman Tyler Buchner did not even have a senior football season with CO- VID-19 canceling it in California. Classmate Ron Powlus III was signed as an insurance policy. Each of the last 10 freshman quarterbacks at Notre Dame were redshirted as rookies, other than Brandon Wimbush in 2015, who then redshirted as a sophomore. — Lou Somogyi

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