College Football

Will the real Brady Quinn please stand up?

Pressure busts pipes.  An ESPN Instant Classic in East Lansing defined the difference between rebuilding a fallen program and the pressure of great expectations. I want to talk about pressure.

The burden of physical or mental distress that turns Shaquille O’Neal into a 350-pound punch line when he toes the free throw line.

The constraint of circumstances that’s left baseball’s most gifted player, Alex Rodriguez, looking like he needs to watch the Tom Emanski instructional videos on loop.  

Because the stress or urgency of matters demanding the most attention four weeks into college football’s 2006 season is this question:

Will the real Brady Quinn please stand up?

Golden Dome haters and loyalists alike are basking in the wildly debatable level of Quinn’s 2006 functionality.

Is he the consensus All-American who rewrote the Notre Dame record books a season ago, hitting on nearly 65 percent of his passes for 3,919 yards and 32 touchdowns?

The player pegged LAST season as the top NFL Draft prospect for 2007?

Or is he the skittish signal-caller who struggled with Georgia Tech’s blitzkrieg defense in the season opener?  

Stat line: 246 yards on 23-for-38 passing, rush TD in a 14-10 road win.

Is he the Charlie Weis “all-day tough” quarterback who bounced back big in Week 2 as the Irish rolled over Penn State, 41-17 with Quinn hitting on nearly 70 percent of his passes for 287 yards and 3 scores?

Or is he the hesitant Heisman hopeful suffering from a heavy dose of media sensation overload (see: ESPN, SI and TSN cover shots) who got punched in the mouth and looked as lost as Linus without his security blanket last week against Michigan?  

Stat line: 24-for-48, 234 yards, 4 turnovers responsible for and one enormously bruised ego after a 47-21 shellacking at home against the Wolverines.

Forget last season’s transformation from middling career 50.8 percent passer with a near 1-to-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio to overnight celebrity under Weis’ tutelage, and even the weekly, schizophrenic melodrama played out over the seasons’ first three games.

Last night in East Lansing, Brady Quinn played on both sides of the fence in the same game!

Is he the arctic starter who opened the game 2-for-8 for 6 yards as Michigan State jumped out to a 17-0 lead?  Or the searing closer who finished 9-for-15 for 187 yards and tossed 3 second half touchdowns?  Is he the bemused, misfiring prodigy who played like he was auditioning for the lead role in the next great point-shaving scandal?  Or the definition of cool, calm and collected in the face of $14 million worth of BCS aspirations saved (for the moment) by the luck of the Irish?

The craziest part of this bipolar equation: I don’t think Brady Quinn even knows.

Because last night, between a rain-soaked bought of fumblitis and leading Notre Dame’s 19-point fourth quarter comeback, Quinn did something I’ve never seen him do before.

He made the Eli Manning face, a facial construct usually reserved for the penultimate moment before the end of all things (see: Heisman and BCS Championship hopes).

As it stands, Notre Dame could still run the table, beat USC in The Coliseum on November 25 and be the best one-loss team in the country with a realistic shot at playing for the title in Glendale, Arizona on January 8, 2007.  

Because nobody’s escaping the SEC without at least one loss and Ohio State, USC and West Virginia all came back to the field in lackluster performances over the weekend.  

But if the real Brady Quinn doesn’t stand up, he’ll be linked to Eli’s big brother Peyton in a realm that no college quarterback wants to call home: the best there ever was, who never won a thing.  

3 replies on “Will the real Brady Quinn please stand up?”

Still hope for QUinn.. If Brady Quinn wasn’t at the hype machine known as Notre Dame, he’d still be Mr. Hesiman. He’s still going to be the #1 QB taken in the draft.

I’ve been thinking about it and I can’t decide if the reason I’ve been flapping my arms testifying to Quinn’s superior talent is because I actually think it, or because of the hype. And honestly, if his face wasn’t in my mailbox 3 weeks ago on ESPN magazine’s cover, I don’t know if I’d still be running around defending him. Yup I admit it. I’m as malleable as a paper clip.

I liken him to Beltran–no denying his talent, but a .270 BA isn’t the outstanding rack I want to hang my hat on.

Anyways,that said, I really enjoyed this. Nice job, great angle…well-played, well-played.

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