Notre Dame has lost seven players to transfer, and more are expected, but the even bigger news was the arrival of Wisconsin grad transfer quarterback Jack Coan. With uncertainty at the position, Coan adds experience and savvy play to the depth chart.
In the latest Irish Breakdown episode, football analyst Vince DeDario and publisher Bryan Driskell dive into the latest transfers and break down the game of Jack Coan.
There are a number of aspects of Coan's game that I like. He's experienced and has played in some big games. He's played in a Big Ten title game, he's played in the Rose Bowl and he's won a road game over a Top 10 opponent.
The first thing that stands out on film is his accuracy in the short to intermediate game. I'm not talking accuracy from the standpoint of him completing 69% of his passes, that is more system driven than anything. I'm talking about accuracy beyond that, practical accuracy, things like understanding proper ball placement, and being able to execute it.
Here's an example:
Coan also shows good anticipation as a passer, which tells me he had a firm grasp of his offense, and also what defenses were trying to do. You can't be great with ball placement if you aren't comfortable with knowing what the defense is going to do. You'll even see Coan throw receivers open, something the Irish offense was missing the last couple of seasons.
Coan is a smart and savvy quarterback that is also willing to take chances. Those three things combined with his strong ball placement to make this touchdown throw:
Part of being a smart and savvy quarterback is being willing to take aggressive but smart chances. In the clip below, you see Coan make a great pre-snap read, a quick post-snap read and then he quickly gets the ball out between three defenders. No, he doesn't have great arm talent, but on plays like this the mind is more important than the arm.
Coan doesn't throw deep a lot, but his timing and decision making allow him to overcome his lack of ideal arm strength and lack of ideal downfield accuracy.
Part of Coan's ability to make good reads and get the ball out quickly is due to his understanding of the defense. Part of his effectiveness as a quarterback is then taking that understanding of the defense and then having the ability to manipulate defenders to open up throwing lanes or one-on-one opportunities.
In the clip below, watch Coan use his eyes to manipulate the backside defender, and then immediately go the one-on-one once he gets the safety moving in the direction he wants.
There are some areas that concern me with Coan as well. He's not a great athlete, which surprised me because he was committed to Notre Dame for lacrosse at one point in his prep career. He has good pocket footwork, but his lack of foot quickness can result in him getting sacked in instances where a more mobile quarterback (Ian Book) might be able to get away.
Coan also took more hits than I expected from the backside, which shows me he doesn't see his backside as well as he sees what is happening in front of him and to his throwing arm side.
He is going to be limited with some of the tougher throws, especially the far hash or deep out throws. Here's an example where you can see the ball doesn't jump out of his hand like stronger armed quarterbacks:
Overall, Coan is a smart, savvy and productive quarterback. His numbers were limited by the system, but he has the tools to put up very good numbers thanks to his accuracy, intelligence and willingness to take chances. Notre Dame's staff must protect his lack of top athleticism and understand he isn't going to power the ball downfield, but also use the traits he does have to remain aggressive and know that downfield shots can still be had, but they must be schemed.
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