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Mike Gilloon | Thursday, April 14, 2005

All Brady Quinn needs for motivation to improve this spring is a pocket football schedule.

“You have to prepare yourself for the Tennessees, USCs, Michigans, Michigan States … all those tough teams,” the Irish quarterback said about his mindset going into the upcoming season. “You have a battle week in and week out.”

Barring injury, the junior will navigate the Irish for the third consecutive year.

Quinn is the only Notre Dame quarterback on the roster with any considerable experience and the clear starter ahead of David Wolke, Darrin Bragg and Marty Mooney.

Scholarship recruit Evan Sharpley and walk-on Dan Gorski will join the team in the fall, but neither is expected to challenge for anything more than the backup role.

Despite the lack of competition at his position, Quinn is not worried about complacency.

“Your motivation never is necessarily the person behind you, because you’re only going to be doing enough to beat them,” Quinn said.

“You need to be playing the best you possibly can so you can exceed all expectations of everyone else and win a national championship. That’s more or less the goal every time you go out there.”

Quinn has had his share of ups and downs since taking over the starting role against Purdue in 2003.

He threw for 1,831 yards, nine touchdowns and 15 interceptions in his freshman season.

Last season, his numbers improved as the 6-foot-4, 228-pounder tossed 17 touchdowns and threw for 2,586 yards with only 10 interceptions.

As spring football winds down and the 2005 season looms, the pressure is greater than ever on Quinn as he tries to lead the Irish back to college football’s elite.

But he is thankful for the presence of former Notre Dame quarterback Ron Powlus, who is filling in for quarterback coach David Cutcliffe while Cutcliffe recovers from heart surgery in Mississippi.

“One thing I’ve been able to do over the last couple of weeks is talk to [Powlus] about his past experiences,” Quinn said.

“He’s been a great resource and someone to talk to. He always tries to get you to move on to the next play. Don’t worry about the last play, whether it was good or bad, you can’t worry about that.”

The lack of another veteran quarterback has given Quinn a lot of one-on-one time with Irish head coach Charlie Weis.

Weis’ ability to design powerful offenses coupled with the fact that starters return at every offensive position for Notre Dame gives Quinn confidence as he faces the pressures of next season.

“I feel extremely comfortable out there,” Quinn said. “When you have an offense with a lot of guys coming back, you feel comfortable with the guys up front, with your receivers [and with] what you can expect from them running their pass routes.”