Jan. 4, 2007
NEW ORLEANS (AP) -Brady Quinn fell short again in the big game.
The surefire first-round draft pick couldn't find a way to get Notre Dame the big win he's been so desperate to deliver, failing for the third time this season against top 10 competition to complete more than 50 percent of his passes as Notre Dame lost 41-14 to LSU in the Sugar Bowl on Wednesday night.
His problems started on the game's first play, when he underthrew open tight end John Carlson when LSU got some pressure on him. But unlike in the loss to Michigan, when Quinn barely had time to breathe before he had a defender in his face, against the Tigers he missed even when he had plenty of time. On Notre Dame's second possession, he overthrew Jeff Samardzija when he was open along the left sideline.
Quinn also repeatedly had passes batted down along the line, and he didn't get enough help from his receivers, such as when tight end Marcus Freeman dropped what would have been a first-down pass on Notre Dame's first possession - and when a pass by Quinn bounced high off Rhema McKnight and was intercepted by LaRon Landry.
Quinn was just 15-of-35 passing for a season-low 148 yards. His other games of completing 50 percent or fewer of his passes came against Michigan, when he was 24-of-48, and against USC, when he was 22-of-45.
He threw only seven interceptions all season, but three came against the Wolverines and two against the Tigers - and nearly had another pass intercepted, but that was overturned when it was reviewed by officials.
Quinn did throw TD passes of 24 yards to David Grimes and 10 yards to Jeff Samardzija against the Tigers, but couldn't muster enough offense to match the potent LSU offense - and the Irish defense had no chance of slowing the Tigers.
The knock on Quinn early in his career was that he was a 50 percent passer who had his best performances in losses - primarily because the Irish had to pass so much to try to get back into games. That changed when coach Charlie Weis arrived last year and helped Quinn become a more complete passer.
He led the Irish to two thrilling comeback victories this season over Michigan State and UCLA, but he couldn't provide a victory when the Irish needed it most.
The Irish did manage to win twice against top 10 teams with Quinn at quarterback, beating No. 8 Michigan 28-20 in 2004 and No. 3 Michigan 17-10 in 2005. But in 2004 the Irish won despite Quinn, who threw for just 178 yards with three interceptions, and last year he threw for just 140 yards against a Wolverines squad that finished the season 7-5.
Quinn, who won the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award given to the nation's top senior quarterback, finishes his career with 36 Notre Dame records and will be remembered as the quarterback who helped restore the Irish back to respectability.
But it was a disappointing end to what had been a somewhat disappointing season for Quinn. He came into the season as the Heisman Trophy favorite, following a record-setting junior season, and the Fighting Irish came into the season with the No. 2 ranking. But neither Quinn nor the Irish could live up to expectations, with Quinn finishing third for the Heisman and the Irish finishing out of the top 10.
That's not the legacy Quinn was hoping for.