Notre Dame quarterback Jack Coan certainly impressed in his first game in an Irish uniform, leading the team to a 41-38 victory over Florida State. I've dove into the film and it's time to hand out grades.
STATS: 26 com., 35 att., 74.3% comp., 366 yards, 4 TD, 1 INT
Coan was harassed throughout the game but he remained poised, and when Notre Dame was behind or needed plays to be made he made them. After Notre Dame fell behind 14-7 in the second quarter Coan led the offense to back-to-back scoring drives to put the Irish up 17-14 at halftime. He went 4-5 on the two drives for 61 yards and added two positives gains in the run game.
Florida State opened the second half with a long touchdown and that is when Coan truly went off. Coan went 8-8 for 175 yards and three touchdowns in the third quarter. After Florida State took that first second half lead Coan responded with two great throws to Kevin Austin for 29 and 37 yards, the second being a perfectly placed touchdown pass.
Those two throws were also notable because those were the throws Coan was missing in the first half. Coan went 14-19 for 160 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the first half, but his big misses were on down the field throws to Braden Lenzy and Austin on a deep balls where both players had at least a step.
On the two third quarter throws Coan got the ball out much quicker, which was a clear adjustment to the speed of his receivers while also knowing where his arm strength is.
Coan was also money on third down in the second half. He went 3-6 for 32 yards on third down in the first two quarters, throwing one touchdown and converting just two of the third down opportunities. In the second half Coan went 4-4 on third down, throwing for 104 yards and two touchdowns. His first touchdown pass came on 4th-and-1 when he hit Michael Mayer on a corner route for a touchdown.
So on third and fourth downs Coan went 9-12 for 178 yards and four touchdowns.
Coan did a good job handling the pressure at times, including his early third quarter throw to Austin that kicked off the first drive of the half. Florida State had an edge rusher come off the edge unblocked but Coan knew he had a one-on-one to Austin that he wanted, so he slid away from the edge rusher, set his feet and let loose with a downfield throw.
Coan was very aggressive in this game, throwing seven non-hail mary throws that went at least 20 yards past the line of scrimmage and he had four more attempts (all completions) that went at least 15 yards past the line, including his 41-yard touchdown score to Mayer. That throw didn't go to 20 yards simply because of how quickly Coan saw the defense blew the coverage and how quickly he got the ball out to Mayer.
In the game Coan completed 7-12 throws that traveled at least 15 yards past the line, which included the hail mary at the end of regulation that resulted in his only interception of the game. Coan threw for 199 yards on those seven completions. That's good for 16.6 yards per attempt (18.1 if you remove the hail mary attempt) and 28.4 yards per completion.
Coan completed an impressive 74.3% of his throws despite having two easy drops by Mayer. If those plays are made Coan is likely over 400 yards and he's at 80% completions. Coan's 74.3% completion rate was the best road mark by a Notre Dame quarterback since 2013, when Tommy Rees completed 77.3% of his throws against Air Force.
Coan wasn't perfect with how he managed the pocket, and there were times he rushed through his reads in a way that made me think he was concerned about the pass rush that was getting to him. He had a couple of opportunities to get rid of the ball downfield on some pressures but he rushed his reads a bit and took a sack.
Coan's timing with his reads was always where I want it to be, which is to be expected for an opener, and even more so in an opener when a player is on a new team. There were about 3-4 more throws he could have made if he would have worked through his progressions a bit cleaner.
I'm not sure if Coan had the ability to pull the ball on the RPOs that Notre Dame ran (he always handed it off) and I'm not sure if he had the freedom to pull the ball on handoffs when the backside of the line crashed. If he didn't then he needs to be given that freedom in the future because the inability to protect the backside edge was one of the many issues Notre Dame had in the run game.
Coan was not as sharp in the first half as I would want him to be. He completed throws but his ball placement wasn't nearly as good as it was in the first half. I loved that he took shots and that he gave Wilkins a chance to make a play, and his wideout rewarded that confidence, but Coan needs to get that ball at least four more inches to the outside. He also underthrew Kyren Williams on a fourth down that kept his back from having the momentum to get to the perimeter and move the chains.
Throw in Coan's underthrows in the first half and you have enough to knock his grade down to an A-, but that's a pretty picky grade. It's hard to find too much fault in a performance as good as Coan's, but those areas need to get cleaned up.
Here is Coan's passing chart against Florida State. The top row are throws that traveled at least 20 yards past the line. The second row are throws between 11-19 yards past the line, the third column is throws 1-9 yards past the line and the final row are throws behind the line.
The left column are throws that went to the left and were at least two yards outside the left hash to the left sideline. The right is the same in that direction. The middle column are throws that were between two yards outside each hash to the middle.
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