Samardzija scorches UW
Notre Dame junior receiver Jeff Samardzija had not caught a touchdown pass entering this season. What notoriety he had achieved was because...
Seattle Times staff reporter
Notre Dame junior receiver Jeff Samardzija had not caught a touchdown pass entering this season.
What notoriety he had achieved was because he was a two-sport athlete, balancing pitching for the Irish baseball team with spring football.
But yesterday, a reporter joked to the 6-foot-5 wide receiver, who started the season as a backup, that Samardzija had a good start to his Heisman Trophy campaign.
Or was it a joke? After yesterday, Samardzija (pronounced Sa-mar-ja) is one of the hottest receivers in the nation.
He caught eight passes for 164 yards, one for a 52-yard touchdown from quarterback Brady Quinn. It was his best day in a Notre Dame uniform as the Irish beat Washington 36-17 at Husky Stadium.
Samardzija has caught 21 passes in four games this season, which is four more than he caught all last season. He also has a touchdown in each game this year. "I took advantage of coverages," said Samardzija, who grew up in Valparaiso, Ind., about an hour away from the Notre Dame's South Bend campus. "I took advantage of the situation."
On one completion, the Huskies were playing tight "press" coverage, and a play-action pass helped him get open.
He also took advantage of his height all afternoon, something the tall Irish pass-catchers (four are 6 feet 5 or taller) did all day against the smaller Washington defensive backs.
"When I get the opportunity, it is something I have to do," he said.
The only noticeable mistake he made was botching the hold on a point-after snap. He rushed and put the ball down sideways.
"There was no need to rush," Samardzija said. He added that he has been holding for place-kicks since high school so it isn't as if he is new to the job.
Notre Dame also never got off a 42-yard field-goal attempt in the first half because of a low snap.
Still, there were few lowlights, particularly in the second half.
"This team is feeding off each other's confidence," Samardzija said.
When it comes to playing Washington, no one plays with more confidence than junior quarterback Quinn.
Last year, he threw four first-half touchdown passes in a 38-3 Irish romp over the Huskies in South Bend. Yesterday, he completed 25 of 37 passes for 327 yards and one TD, which was the long ball to Samardzija. He wasn't intercepted or sacked.
Quinn smiled when asked if he would like to play Washington every week. But he also is playing well against other opponents. Last week, he made Irish history when he became the first Notre Dame quarterback to throw five touchdown passes in a game. He passed for 487 yards and set a school record with 33 completions in the 44-41 overtime loss to Michigan State.
Quinn now has 1,181 yards this season, and has 10 touchdowns with only two interceptions.
"The numbers will show that this offense is to my liking," Quinn said. "I feel extremely comfortable with the type of offense and with the way things are going."
Especially when he's throwing to Samardzija.
Craig Smith: 206-464-8279 or firstname.lastname@example.org
|Battered by Brady|
|Brady Quinn has passed for 593 yards and five TDs in two games against Washington:|
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