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Football: Weis says BC’s Ryan has ‘it’ – like Quinn

Chris Hine | Friday, October 12, 2007

Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis said he sees shades of Tom Brady and Brady Quinn – two of Weis’ former pupils – in Boston College quarterback Matt Ryan.

But instead of using a star quarterback of Brady’s or Quinn’s caliber to design a game plan that preys on opposing defenses, Weis and the Irish secondary are the hunted – and Heisman candidate Ryan will try to pick apart Notre Dame’s defense.

“Their offense starts with Ryan. Ryan is a heck of a quarterback,” Weis said. “He’s poised, he’s tough, he’s efficient, he’s accurate. He’ll stay in the pocket when he feels the pressure. He’s a very, very, very good player.”

Last season, Ryan threw for 2,942 yards and 15 touchdowns to lead Boston College to a 10-3 record. This season, in six games, Ryan has already thrown for 15 touchdowns, 1,857 yards and a 139.41 passing efficiency rating to lead Boston College to a 6-0 start – its best since 1942.

One of the ways in which Ryan is similar to Brady and Quinn, Weis said, is Ryan’s ability to spread the ball around to different receivers. Seven Eagles receivers have more than 10 catches, and wide out Brandon Robinson leads the team with only 29 receptions.

“They don’t have one star in their pass game because he involves everybody,” Weis said. “He reminds me of the quarterbacks that I’m used to being around in that they’re not looking to create a star out of anyone as a receiver. He just can read coverages, throw the ball to the open guy on time and he’s done a very good job of doing that.”

Weis also said from what he has seen, Ryan has the “it” factor – a hard-to-define quality that makes a good quarterback great – that, Weis said, both Quinn and Brady have.

“Watching him on tape he certainly has it,” Weis said. “I’m not coaching him so I’m not around him all the time, but this kid’s a good player.”

Ryan and the Eagles will face an Irish defense that ranks No. 4 in the country in overall pass defense; but opponents have had little use for a consistent air attack against the Irish because of Notre Dame’s porous rush defense. Through six games, the Irish have given up an average of 190 yards per game on the ground, 96th in the country.

But Boston College and Ryan may come out firing early and often, Notre Dame defensive backs coach Bill Lewis said. Lewis worked with Boston College first-year head coach Jeff Jagodzinski and offensive coordinator Steve Logan when Lewis was the head coach at East Carolina from 1989-91.

“Steve’s one of those kind of guys, I swear if you’d let him throw the ball every snap, he’d throw it every snap,” Lewis said. “He’d spread you from sideline to sideline, and you’re going to see that this week. He believes in using every inch of the field and he’s got a quarterback that can throw the ball there.”

Lewis, who also coached nine seasons as the defensive nickel package coach for the Miami Dolphins, said Ryan makes different types of throws with equal effect and should be a hot commodity come draft time.

“In my opinion, he’s got to be at the top of the quarterback class coming out this year,” Lewis said. “Whether he’s the top guy, or top two or three, he’s got to be up there because he makes great decisions. He throws the ball where it’s supposed to be thrown. He gives receivers a chance to catch the ball.”

Lewis also said Ryan has the ability to make everyone around him play better.

“He raises the level of everyone around him. His offensive line wants to protect him because they say ‘Hey, if we protect this guy he can get the ball there,'” Lewis said. “The receivers are very well-coached. They’re precise in their routes. They know, ‘Hey if I run this route that I’m supposed to, he’s going to read the coverage, and he’s going to get it to the right guy and he’s going to give me a ball that I can catch.’

“That’s what’s so impressive about him.”