Thursday, August 17, 2006

Quinn for the Win | by Jay

There's a must-read piece on Brady Quinn in ESPN The Magazine (also available online here, subscription only. But if you dig around the ND boards this morning you may find it for free). It's a great profile piece, and has some terrific anecdotes about Brady's family and upbringing. There's also this part about how Charlie & Brady work together on the sidelines during a game:

"We came in with a big question mark." Which only got bigger when Pitt scored first. "New coach," thought wideout Jeff Samardzija, "same deal." But on Notre Dame's first drive, Quinn dumped a screen to tailback Darius Walker near midfield, then watched as defenders were blocked off the play one by one, like dominoes. Some blockers got to the end zone before the ball did. The next week, against Michigan, in the near-90-degree heat of the Big House, Notre Dame marched downfield in the first quarter with an opening no-huddle drive that rumbled like a tractor.

Against Purdue in Week 5, on third and short from the 22-yard line, Quinn jogged over to the sideline, and when Weis asked, "Do you want to go for the first down or for a touchdown?" Quinn replied, "Touchdown, but you're the coach." Weis gave him a play and got in his face: "Carlson is going to be wide open in the end zone. Don't screw it up." Quinn faked a handoff, spun and there he was -- tight end John Carlson, miles from everyone. Six.

There were quieter moments, like when Quinn came off the field after a second interception against Stanford to hear Weis say softly, "I told you to be careful. This isn't good enough." Quinn might have been able to detect the manipulation in the coach's inflection, but instead he felt as if he'd let Weis down. When Stanford took the lead with fewer than two minutes left in the game, Quinn was on a knee next to Sullivan on the sideline. "I was freaking out," says the lineman. "But he just gave me a look that said, 'Time to go.' We scored in 50 seconds." Quinn not only takes all the heat -- but he also basks in it. "Now he was tough," says Weis, "and confident."

By the end of last season, Quinn had honed his outdoor voice -- complete with Weis-taught modulation and trigger words -- and the team was listening to the quarterback the way the quarterback had listened to the coach. "You couldn't have picked anyone better for Brady," says Uncle David. "What Charlie brought Brady is a sense of assuredness."