Blue and Gold Illustrated

Nov. 18, 2023

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

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42 NOV. 18, 2023 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED FOOTBALL RECRUITING BY KYLE KELLY C J Carr quickly put the first loss of his senior season in the rearview mir- ror by responding with one of his most efficient per- formances in 2023. Carr, Notre Dame's long- time 2024 class quarter- back commit, completed 17 of 20 passes for 200 yards with 2 touchdowns to lead Saline (Mich.) High to a 56-14 first-round playoff victory over Ann Arbor Pioneer Oct. 27. Carr is the No. 1 prospect in Michigan, and the No. 6 quarterback and No. 56 overall player nationally in the On3 Industry Rank- ing. Through 10 games this season, he had connected on 178 of 249 throws (68.7 percent) for 2,551 yards with 21 touchdowns and 6 interceptions. He also had 32 carries for 208 yards (6.5 per carry) and 8 touchdowns. Here are five thoughts on his perfor- mance in the playoff game. 1. More Than Just A Game Manager While Carr completed 85.0 percent of his passes, his performance was mostly about the throws he did not complete. The Saline High offense essentially utilizes Carr as a game manager with dink-and-dunk play calls that result in easy and effective tosses. He aver- aged 11.8 yards per competition and 10.0 yards per attempt. Carr has mastered the Hornets' of- fense, and his approach is surgical. However, the three incompletions he registered were telling. The first was a 40-yard throw into the end zone to a wide-open receiver, a picture-perfect pass with the right amount of touch, precision and air underneath it. If Carr's receiver had caught that pass, the senior signal-caller would have averaged 12.9 yards per completion on the night. It would have gone down as a 32-yard touchdown pass (Carr's strike came near the 40-yard line). Later on in the game, Carr's next incompletion was a dime. On this one, his throw came from his own 20-yard line and landed right in the hands of his receiver on the Pioneer 38-yard line. If Saline's pass catcher makes that play, it goes down as a 42-yard completion. Carr should have easily been 19 of 20 for 282 yards with 3 touchdowns. For what it's worth, he nearly had a third touchdown credited on his stat sheet. Another one of his receivers was just inches away from hitting the pylon for a score. 2. Learning To Fight Another Day Now, it is time to discuss Carr's third incomple- tion: A throw-away. Upon orchestrating the Saline offense into the red zone, Carr dropped back to pass and scrambled backward. A few Pioneer defenders chased him; Carr then chose to run in the opposite direction. He put the play to bed by throwing the ball out of bounds. Blue & Gold Illustrated has watched Carr in per- son twice this season. During both games, there were a few plays in each one where he tried to extend plays by running around the field to make something out of nothing. Ironically, most of the time, he ended up making a miraculous throw that justified his risky scrambles. However, that is not going to work in the col- legiate ranks. On college football Saturdays, Carr will face much faster defenders — some might even be quicker than him. Those prayer-like plays will frequently go unanswered and result in drive-damaging sacks. Still, it's an easy fix. Irish quarter- backs coach Gino Guidugli must reinforce to Carr that when he has nothing, throw the ball away. 3. Can Make Things Happen With His Legs Carr's mobility remains one of the most underrated parts of his game. Although he was not asked to use his legs much in the playoff contest, when he did, it resulted in important gains. On a 96-yard scoring drive, Carr had rushes of 4 and 8 yards. Those proved key in keeping the series alive and ultimately helping the Hornets reach the end zone. He is also a highly effective rusher inside the 5-yard line, utilizing his vision and strength to barrel forward for touchdowns. 4. An Authentic Leader Afterward, BGI interviewed Carr, who said this season is the most fun he has ever had playing football. That is apparent when watching his interactions with his teammates. You would never know he has been committed to Notre Dame for 16 months. He does not deck himself out in Irish gear or act like he is too important to enjoy the team's ca- maraderie. We've witnessed several occasions where he conversed with both upperclassmen and underclassmen separately. Everyone on that team loves Carr. Of course, all is right when you're winning. Still, it is quite noticeable that Carr is comfortable in his own skin. That authenticity is key when being Notre Dame's quarterback. Carr simply has it on and off the field. 5. Ready For The Spotlight Over a year and a half of covering Carr, we have interviewed Carr several times and have been im- pressed with his ability to answer questions — the tough ones included. He always gives thoughtful answers. We have joked with him that he has a public relations coach helping him craft his answers. To my knowledge, he does not. Carr is just that sea- soned — and as the grandson of former Michigan coach Lloyd Carr — has been in the spotlight since he was young. As is the case with most quarterbacks, personal- ity and mental makeup are key in helping achieve success. Carr has both, which, at the very least, will provide a platform for winning football games for the Fighting Irish. ✦ Five Playoff Game Observations On Irish QB Commit CJ Carr Carr is having a stellar senior season for Saline (Mich.) High. Through 10 games, he had completed 178 of 249 throws for 2,551 yards with 21 touchdowns and 6 interceptions. PHOTO BY KYLE KELLY

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