One-on-one with Irish legend Brady Quinn
Saturday’s showdown against Clemson marks the eighth time a top-ranked team has visited Notre Dame Stadium. The Irish are 2-5 in those match-ups. Brady Quinn, former Notre Dame Quarterback and Fox Sports analyst, gave his thoughts on the Notre Dame-Clemson game.
"I definitely think the Irish can win it. They're one of the top 4 teams in the country, right now. They have played really, really good football. I love what Tommy Rees has done this year, taking over as their offensive play caller and really playing to the strengths of this team. And I think their best football is still ahead of them, at this point. So, there's no doubt that they can beat Clemson,” Brady said. "Then you factor in the standpoint that Trevor Lawrence won't be a part of it. That obviously, helps to make your case, anytime they don't have a talented player like that - a guy who they saw in his freshman year, be able to beat them in a semi-final game. It's going to really come down to, I think, a few things. DJ Uiagalelei is their freshman quarterback, who ended up helping them comeback in the win over BC, last week. He's a very talented kid, really strong arm. So, he's capable, especially with Amari Rodgers and Cornell Powell at the wide receiver position. But it all starts with Etienne. Notre Dame's Defense - Clark Lea has got to figure out a way of stopping Travis Etienne. If the defense can stop him, limit his big plays, almost similar to when we played USC, with Reggie Bush, I think they're going to have a chance. On the flip side, they've got to be able to dominate the line of scrimmage. This Clemson defensive front and the way, Brent Venables, their defensive coordinator, likes to bring pressure, they need to figure out a way of running the football, staying ahead of the chains, and then, not allowing much too pressure on Ian Book, give him time back there. Because, next to Pitt, they're probably the next best team in the ACC on giving pressure to opposing quarterbacks."
"There is so much conversation about Ian Book, we've seen what he can do, what he can't do and what he still needs to work on. How do you think he needs to get those improvements done to get Notre Dame to that next level?" Allison asked.
"Well, Ian is a great quarterback. He's one of the best in college football. I think people on the outside, who don't have to play the position, don't really understand. You're a product, a lot of time, of what's around you. Think about what they lost. You go back to last year. They lost Chase Claypool, you lose Cole Kmet. I mean, those were your top two targets in the passing game that you're trying to find ways to get the ball to,” Brady said. “So, it's tough to start over and to be able to find who those guys are the next season. I think they're still trying to figure out who that's going to be consistently. At times, Bennett Skowronek, the grad transfer has looked good. Javon McKinley has been in that spot. You know, Wilkins had a nice game this past week. I don't know that any one player has solidified themselves in that spot. Michael Mayer has really emerged, their freshman tight end, is that mis-match for them. But he's just a freshman. It's a lot to ask of a freshman, who's still growing and learning the college game. Bottom line is, quarterback play is so much a product of what's around you and a lot of times, you can only do so much, that those guys can handle too. So, Ian has played great this year, he's going to continue to do well. This is going to be a big game for him. As much as we want to talk about the passing game, he's going to have to use his legs and the reason, why I say that is, Clemson gets away with not putting enough players around the line of scrimmage to stop the run. They get away with it, almost every game, almost every week. This is a game where they can't afford to do that. So, if he becomes a part of the run game, that's just one extra defender they've got to put into the box to stop him. And that's where those one-on-one opportunities come from the outside. That's where the guys, like Javon McKinley, or Skowronek, or Mayer, or whoever else you want to factor inside the conversation. That's where I think they can be productive and have some success."
"And of course, Notre Dame, there's haters out there. They say they're overrated. Where do you have Notre Dame ranked in your personal rankings right now?" Allison asked.
"Yeah, they're a top four team. I think you look at the Ohio State, Bama, Clemson, Notre Dame is right there with them,” Brady said. “Those are the best four teams, in my opinion, in college football right now. And the fortunate thing is we get kind of a little preview of not just Notre Dame-Clemson now, but maybe a preview for the ACC Championship. Cause there's no doubt about it, whoever loses this game is still in contention, to be able to be right back in that ACC Championship game, and again, a shot of playing for the College Football Playoff.”
"Can you give us your final score prediction. What are you expecting? Notre Dame, can they get it done against Clemson? Can they knock them off?" Allison asked.
"I think in order for Notre Dame to do it, they've got to keep it a low scoring game. They can't allow Etienne to get going. So, I like a 28-27 Notre Dame victory. That's what I foresee happening in this one,” Brady said.
"And just a final question for you. You are now the father of three beautiful little girls. What's been more challenging? Being a quarterback, being on tv, or running around being a girl dad?” Allison asked.
"I would say that playing the position of quarterback has really prepared me for everything in life, probably with the exception of having three little girls. That's been the one blitz, or the one pressure that I'm still trying to figure out the best play forward, the best way to attack it. But, I'm learning each day as it goes. I couldn't be any happier. I love little Sloan, Tegan and Cassidy. They're all so different. Kind of lumped in there at ages, 4, 2 and 8 months, but each one of them already has just kind of has their own unique personality and the way they go about life. So, I feel very blessed,” Brady said.