Notre Dame quarterback Jack Coan ended the regular season as he started it
Notre Dame closed the 2021 regular season with a resounding 45-14 victory over Stanford to move up to 11-1. Offensively, the Irish racked up over 500 total yards for the second straight week and the third time this season in what was an impressive performance.
For the quarterback Jack Coan, the graduate transfer ended the regular season the same way it started for Notre Dame: with a bang.
The Long Island native methodically set the Stanford defense aside, finishing the game 26 for 35 assists (74.3%) for 345 yards and two touchdowns. The 26 completed passes equaled Coan’s season record set in Game 1 against Florida State, and the 345 passing yards was his second most important behind the 366 he threw against the Seminoles.
It was an almost perfect first half for the Irish caller. Coan completed 18 of 23 attempted passes (78.3%) for 198 yards and two touchdowns. The 18 first-half goals are higher than Coan’s total in seven of the previous 11 games. His 198 passing yards in the first 30 minutes was also more than he had thrown in five full games this season. It was Coan’s third straight game with multiple half-time touchdowns.
These numbers are all the more remarkable considering that early in the game Stanford’s greatest defensive strength was his pass defense. The Cardinal allowed just over 203 yards in the air per game heading into the game against the Irish, a number that ranked 30th nationally. Coan almost eclipsed that mark in the first half alone.
It’s clear the Irish offensive coordinator Tommy rees wanted Coan to get started early, as 14 of Notre Dame’s first 19 games were passing attempts. Coan was a perfect 4-for-4 on the opening disc of the game, and connected with Braden Lenzy on a 16-yard post in the middle to give the Irish the lead they’ve never regretted.
Coan’s only flaw in the match came during Notre Dame’s first training session in the second half. In 3rd and 2nd, Coan was trying to find the tight end Michel mayer on a quick option route but wired the pass and Stanford’s Jonathan McGill read it all the way and picked it up. Coan saw a deflected and nearly intercepted pass attempt earlier in the first half on another play where he was trying to force Mayer.
Despite these two plays, the connection between Coan and Mayer again proved fruitful for the Irish. Mayer caught nine passes for 109 yards, breaking the Notre Dame single-season receiving record by a tight end (64) in the process. It was Game 6 this season, Mayer led the team in receptions, and his 64 for the season is 22 more than the next highest receiver (Kevin Austin / Kyren Williams tied at 42).
The veteran quarterback also bounced off the drive after the interception, connecting with Kevin austin for a 61-yard completion before taking it himself into the end zone on a stealthy 1-yard quarterback. It was the second rushing touchdown of the season for Coan.
For the third week in a row, the true Irish freshman quarterback Tyler Buchner extended the second half under cross after Coan and Notre Dame built a comfortable 31-7 lead.
Once again, Buchner impressed with his legs. During his first game under the center, ball carrier Chris Tyree was able to come off for a 33-yard gain on an option play where the Cardinal was too committed to Buchner’s goalie. Two plays later, Buchner held the ball and cleared for a 33-yard touchdown, his third rushing touchdown of the season.
Coan added the icing on the cake of the game and the season for the Irish when he returned to the game with over six minutes to go in the fourth quarter and drove a 77-yard nine-game drive that ended. ended with a 12- yard Kyren williams landing. It was Notre Dame’s longest practice of the game with a time of five minutes and 26 seconds, and there was just under a minute to go.
It was a season of ups and downs for Notre Dame offensively, as the Irish struggled to have consistency or some sort of identity for the majority of the season’s opening six games. The initial exchange between Coan and Buchner (and sometimes Drew pyne) felt more like a team looking for something rather than a team effectively using the strengths of its multiple talented quarterbacks at the right time.
There is no doubt that the Irish were able to find themselves and a whole new set of equipment in the second half of the season. In the last six games of the season, Notre Dame has averaged 39.5 points per game.
While Coan’s lone season at South Bend was not without its drawbacks, the overall success that the Wisconsin transfer may have had in its first year in an entirely new program is undeniable and should not be understated. .
With the regular season over, Coan’s last line is 215 for 318 (67.6%), 2,641 yards, 20 touchdowns and 6 interceptions. Coan was billed as an accurate pitcher who could push the ball across the field and make the throws necessary to win games. You’d be hard pressed to argue that he didn’t deliver all the accounts apart from an early October game against Cincinnati.
Meanwhile, the season opener against Florida State is one of two games Buchner didn’t see action on in his first season in an Irish uniform. It’s remarkable for a freshman to come in and make an impact like Buchner did, scoring touchdowns and giving offense an extra (and much needed) dimension; at the quarterback, no less. The experience Buchner has been able to gain this season will undoubtedly pay dividends on the road for Notre-Dame. The San Diego native ends the regular season as the Irishman’s second-best rusher with 336 yards and three touchdowns.
In the end, the tandem of seasoned graduate student Coan and true freshman Buchner propelled Notre Dame to a fifth straight season of 10 wins and a third season of 11 wins in the past four years. Both quarterbacks were in their first year playing for the Irish, and both helped put the team in a position to compete in a New Years Six Bowl and potentially a National Championship. This is no small feat, and something they deserve to be commended.
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Notre Dame 2022 commits Big Board: Offense
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