Oct. 1, 2005
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) – Brady Quinn’s big numbers are starting to result in Notre Dame victories.
Quinn passed for 440 yards and three touchdowns against 22nd-ranked Purdue on Saturday night, leading No. 13 Notre Dame to a 49-28 victory.
It’s the second straight game that Quinn has passed for over 300 yards and won. He had been 0-3 in such games before beating Washington a week earlier, and just 1-7 in games when he passed for at least 230 yards.
Quinn credits his improvement to coach Charlie Weis.
“He’s a great teacher. He’s taught me so many things about how to run an offense and be a leader,” Quinn said. “A lot of things he learned in the NFL, he’s brought down to teach me.”
Quinn looked a lot like another Weis student, Tom Brady of the New England Patriots, in the way he beat the Purdue secondary, mixing mostly short passes with just enough deep throws to keep the Boilermakers off balance.
“Brady picked them apart,” Weis said. “We were taking 3-yard passes and turning them into 15, 20 yards gains.”
Quinn was 20-for-23 for 283 yards in the first half to lead Notre Dame (4-1) to a 28-0 intermission lead. He finished the game 29-of-36 – a career-high 80.5 percent – and threw a TD pass for a 10th straight game, tying a school record set by Heisman Trophy winner John Huarte in 1964.
“Brady is performing like the leader we need him to be and I look for him to continue to progress in upcoming games,” Weis said.
He’ll need to. Next up for the Irish is No. 1 USC on Oct. 15 in South Bend.
The loss was the biggest by the Boilermakers since losing 31-3 at Michigan in 2003. Purdue fell to 12-27 against ranked opponents under ninth-year coach Joe Tiller.
“We couldn’t stop the run or the passing game,” Tiller said. “I guess I’m not shocked, but I’m disappointed in the outcome.”
Quinn had lost his first two games against the Boilermakers despite passing for a combined 729 yards. The problem in 2003, his first collegiate start, was he was intercepted four times and didn’t have a TD pass. Last year he was sacked seven times in a 41-16 loss.
“I wasn’t thinking anything about revenge coming into this game,” Quinn said. “What enabled us to win was the execution of our game plan.”
On Saturday night, though, Quinn didn’t throw an interception until the Irish were up 35-14 – and the Irish intercepted the ball back on the next play – and he was hardly pressured as he cut up the Purdue secondary.
Quinn passed for at least 300 yards for a third straight game. Previously, no Irish quarterback had passed for 300 yards twice in a season. He now has five games in his career of over 300 yards passing. In three of those he has surpassed 400 yards, but before Saturday night the two 400-yard efforts had ended in defeat.
“He played like a great player,” Tiller said. “He’s a talented player.”
Quinn completed eight straight passes at one point and 11 straight at another. Quinn’s primary targets were Maurice Stovall and Samardzija.
Stovall finished with eight catches for 134 yards, including four catches for 71 yards on Notre Dame’s second scoring drive. Samardzija had a diving one-handed catch for 41 yards to the 1-yard line to set up Notre Dame’s first score. He also had a 55-yard TD catch and a 4-yard catch for a score, becoming the first Irish receiver to have TD catches in the team’s first five games. He finished with seven catches for 153 yards.
Samardzija said he wasn’t surprised by the 49 points by the Irish.
“Why not, It’s just something you’ve got to expect. You’ve just got to always talk about that next step.”
The five straight games with touchdown catches are the most for an Irish receiver since Malcolm Johnson had six straight during the 1998 season.
Notre Dame tight end John Carlson had his first career TD catch in the fourth quarter, a 22-yard pass from Quinn, who left the game with 11:31 left in the fourth quarter.
Dorien Bryant had a career-high 14 catches for Purdue, two of them for touchdowns, for 127 yards. Brandon Kirsch was 29-of-44 passing for 274 yards with one interception. Kory Sheets ran for two touchdowns in the fourth quarter.
Quinn’s performance Saturday night gave him 6,038 career yards passing, third on the school’s career list behind Steve Beuerlein with 6,527 in 1983-86 and Ron Powlus with 7,602 in 1994-97.
“The kid’s a hard worker,” Weis said. “Each week he shows signs of evolving and getting better.”