Quarterback Brady Quinn will lead the 2004 Irish on the field on Saturday night, and he won't be intimidated in the slightest. The Dublin, Ohio native loves away games.
"It's completely different playing an away game in college than it was in high school," Quinn said. "I know what to expect now. You get out there early, the fans are out there early, kind of heckling you.
"It's a lot of fun. I think sometimes people kind of look at away games as a big disadvantage. I kind of like having more pressure put on you, having more odds against you."
While away games can be fun, sitting around waiting to play a night game can lead to distractions with so much extra time on hand.
Quinn says his teammates have been through the night games before, and they know how to handle the time between waking up and actually playing the game.
"I think it can be at times," the sophomore quarterback said when asked if waiting for a night game can get annoying. "I think we're pretty prepared and have a good idea of what it's going to be like there. I think we're going to be alright."
There is no question Quinn appears much more confident this season than the previous year. The sophomore business major says he's confident for a few reasons.
"Last year, there was a lot of question marks," he said. "This year, there's a lot of answers. Everything is kind of laid out there. The only question mark is kind of the win or lose column. That's why I'm excited to get out there and get it on."
Another reason he is confident is the number 38. "38" has been used as motivation this off-season and fall camp. It represents the number of points the Irish gave up last season against their arch rival, Michigan. Quinn says "38" has been a constant on his mind as well as the minds of his teammates.
"That was pretty much embedded on everyone's forehead," Quinn said. "I think any time you looked at each other, maybe our first thought was ‘hey, what's up,' our second thought was ‘thinking 38 or some sort.' It was the main focus for us, and I think it still is, even with BYU in front of us. It wasn't necessarily focusing on the Michigan game, but kind of looking at last season, at least for me. We don't want that to have that happen that again."
The Irish also return four starters along the offensive line this season and that also gives Quinn a lot of confidence.
"Offensive line (play) will dictate how we do this year," Quinn said. "That's the basis of our offense. How they protect and how they run block will definitely determine how we do this year."
"That's something they've been working on—just holding their blocks as long as they can," Quinn said when asked how the pass protection has been this fall. "They've done a great job of protection this fall."
Quinn and his offensive line experienced the very depths of disappointment last year struggling through a dismal 5-7 season. He says that experience has brought he and his protectors much closer together.
"I'd have to say so, going through last season together and being back together this season," Quinn said when asked if he feels a bond with his offensive linemen.
"Looking back at all the off-season workouts, and all the work we've put in towards this, I think you definitely feel a brotherhood and a closeness that when times get tough, you're going to be able to rely on one another."
Offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Bill Diedrick has always said he's never satisfied with anything. We asked Quinn what Diedrick has told him he still has left to improve in his game.
"It's pretty much everything," Quinn said laughingly. "That's kind of the general criteria. It's like everything has to be improving. It's kind of what we're shooting for."
Despite all the reasons for the Irish offense to feel good about themselves, Quinn says it still all comes down to one thing—execuition.
"One thing is consistency," Quinn said when asked what his team can do to make sure they don't have a season like the previous. "I think the coaches have really harped about that. We were just inconsistent, whether that was passing game and running game. I don't think we ever put both together in one game."
There is no question Quinn is a much more relaxed and confident quarterback. That should be a good sign for Irish fans as the Irish get set to play BYU on Saturday.