Notre Dame football: 3 reasons the Irish made the right decision at QB


Notre Dame football: 3 reasons the Irish made the right decision at QB

PASADENA, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 01: Jack Coan #17 of the Wisconsin Badgers, and now Notre Dame football team throws a pass against the Oregon Ducks during the first half in the Rose Bowl game presented by Northwestern Mutual at Rose Bowl on January 01, 2020, in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

The Notre Dame football team officially has a starting quarterback, as Jack Coan was named the starter for Week 1 on Saturday.

Brian Kelly announced through Twitter on August 14th that Jack Coan would be the starting quarterback for the Notre Dame football team in their Week 1 game against Florida State.

This, of course, is what most people expected to happen. Coan was brought in as a graduate transfer from Wisconsin, to have him start, and the plan was that he would act as a stopgap between Ian Book and the next long-term starter.

The next long-term starter would presumably be the true freshman Tyler Buchner, Drew Pyne, or possibly even 2022 recruit Steve Angeli.

Coan gets the job after losing his at Wisconsin following an injury that he suffered at the start of last season. The year before that, though, Coan took the Badgers to the Rose Bowl, before losing to Justin Herbert and Oregon.

That season, Coan was solid, as he threw for a 69.6% completion percentage, 2,727 yards, and 18 TDs in 2019. That is comparable to Book’s 2020 season when he threw for a 64.6% completion percentage, 2,830 yards, and 15 TDs.

So, while Coan had two more games in 2019 than Book did in 2020, the two have similar seasons, at least from a statistical point of view.

Of course, Coan was the expected starter, but he did face a quarterback battle this past Spring and the first week or so of Summer practice. It’s a job he had to prove that he deserved, so let’s take a look at why Coan is the right choice to start.

Next: Their 2021 Potential

Notre Dame football: 3 reasons the Irish made the right decision at QB

PASADENA, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 01: Jack Coan #17 of the Wisconsin Badgers, and now Notre Dame football team throws a pass against the Oregon Ducks during the first half in the Rose Bowl game presented by Northwestern Mutual at Rose Bowl on January 01, 2020, in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

The Notre Dame football team officially has a starting quarterback, as Jack Coan was named the starter for Week 1 on Saturday.

Brian Kelly announced through Twitter on August 14th that Jack Coan would be the starting quarterback for the Notre Dame football team in their Week 1 game against Florida State.

This, of course, is what most people expected to happen. Coan was brought in as a graduate transfer from Wisconsin, to have him start, and the plan was that he would act as a stopgap between Ian Book and the next long-term starter.

The next long-term starter would presumably be the true freshman Tyler Buchner, Drew Pyne, or possibly even 2022 recruit Steve Angeli.

Coan gets the job after losing his at Wisconsin following an injury that he suffered at the start of last season. The year before that, though, Coan took the Badgers to the Rose Bowl, before losing to Justin Herbert and Oregon.

That season, Coan was solid, as he threw for a 69.6% completion percentage, 2,727 yards, and 18 TDs in 2019. That is comparable to Book’s 2020 season when he threw for a 64.6% completion percentage, 2,830 yards, and 15 TDs.

So, while Coan had two more games in 2019 than Book did in 2020, the two have similar seasons, at least from a statistical point of view.

Of course, Coan was the expected starter, but he did face a quarterback battle this past Spring and the first week or so of Summer practice. It’s a job he had to prove that he deserved, so let’s take a look at why Coan is the right choice to start.

Next: Their 2021 Potential
Notre Dame football: 3 reasons the Irish made the right decision at QB

SOUTH BEND, INDIANA – MAY 01: Jack Coan #17 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish warms up before the Blue-Gold Spring Game at Notre Dame Stadium on May 01, 2021, in South Bend, Indiana. (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)

Coan Has the Highest Floor

At this point, we know what Jack Coan’s ceiling is going to be, and it’s not as high as someone like Sam Howell at North Carolina, or even Desmond Ridder at Cincinnati. We know that Tyler Buchner, in particular, has a tremendous amount of potential, and that isn’t a knock on Drew Pyne, of course, who also has every possibility of developing into a great college quarterback.

There’s just one issue with choosing Buchner or Pyne right now. Their floors are much lower than Coan. You know what you’re getting with Coan, but you put Buchner out there at quarterback, and he could very easily be overwhelmed and not ready to compete yet.

It has the possibility of being a disaster. You can say the same thing about Pyne, who has done a lot to prove he should be the backup quarterback this offseason.

So, you go with Jack Coan at quarterback to make sure that your quarterback position is stable, while you develop the potential behind Coan. You don’t shatter the confidence or development of a young quarterback on a gamble, and you put the best chance to win on the field for this season.

Notre Dame football: 3 reasons the Irish made the right decision at QB

MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA – NOVEMBER 30: Quarterback Jack Coan #17 of the Wisconsin Badgers celebrates defeating the Minnesota Golden Gophers with fans after the game at TCF Bank Stadium on November 30, 2019, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Badgers defeated the Golden Gophers 38-17. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

Coan Has the Most Experience

One of the most important reasons for Jack Coan to be the starter is that he brings the most experience. Buchner, for one, is a true freshman, and he was also a high school senior, living in California, during the pandemic. That means he didn’t even play his senior year of high school.

As much as fans might be excited about his upside, and want to see what Buchner can do, it’s just irresponsible to throw him to the wolves. For his part, Drew Pyne saw some playing time last season, mostly in relief. In that time, he managed to complete 2/3 passes for 12 yards.

That’s not much more experience, but at least he has a year learning Tommy Rees’ system.

Coan, on the other hand, is entering his fifth year of college. During his one season as the full-time starter at Wisconsin, he took them to the Rose Bowl. He proved himself to be a winner. He did so with a higher completion percentage than any of Ian Book’s three seasons in South Bend.

Now, he’ll have better talent around him than he did at Wisconsin.

The experience that Jack Coan brings to Notre Dame is vital. In a two-minute drill, he’ll be calm and collected enough to handle any issues that might come up. He’ll also have a better understanding of pressures that he’s going up against from opposing defenses and know how to read secondaries quicker than Pyne or Buchner could.

Notre Dame football: 3 reasons the Irish made the right decision at QB

May 1, 2021; Notre Dame, Indiana, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish quarterback Jack Coan (17) takes the snap in the first half of the Blue-Gold Game at Notre Dame Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Coan Earned the Job

Everyone knows that Jack Coan was brought into Notre Dame to act as a stopgap between Ian Book and Tyler Buchner, but the truth is that this job wasn’t given to Coan. He received a legitimate challenge from not just Buchner, but last season’s backup in Drew Pyne as well.

As recently as this week, Pyne was working with the first-team offense, so this was a legitimate competition into the summer.

None of this is to say that Coan doesn’t have some obvious limitations at quarterback. At the end of the day, Book was a more mobile option, and no one is going to confuse Coan with a Sam Howell-type pocket passer.

Still, he is the best option that the team has available to them right now, and he proved that this offseason.

Make no mistake, this competition isn’t over either. Coan was named the starter now so that he can focus on building chemistry and not looking over his shoulder at the young guns behind him. But, if Coan comes out and struggles early, there is a good chance that he finds a seat on the bench.

Kelly has been willing to bench even winning quarterbacks for a better option in the past, and there is no reason to think that he won’t if there is a better option available. In the same vein, even though Coan was brought in as a grad transfer, he had to prove he was the best option to get to this point.

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