Photo by Rick Kimball/ISD
Notre Dame Football

Jurkovec Settling In After Successful Fall Camp

August 27, 2019
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Sophomore quarterback Phil Jurkovec had a successful spring despite the result of the Blue-Gold game in mid-April. The 6-foot-5, 227-pounder was able to take reps as the No. 2 quarterback and truly immerse himself into Chip Long’s playbook. 
 
Jurkovec flashed the ability to move the football and hit big chunk plays, but then struggled in the spring game as the rules dictated a very different type of game than what you see on a typical Saturday in the fall. 
 
While the fans and media broke down his spring game performance, Jurkovec was probably the person who was most disappointed with the result. 
 
“I’m not happy with where I’m at right now,” Jurkovec said following the spring game. “I need to get a lot better at everything. I was hoping to be further along and I need to be.
 
“I have to put in a lot more work and film. The more reps I get will help.” 
 
Fast forward to the end of August and Notre Dame has a clear No. 2 quarterback and it doesn’t take a football expert to see Jurkovec’s confidence is growing almost by the day. 
 
“I think Phil got himself right,” Notre Dame offensive coordinator Chip Long said at Media Day. “He's out there just so much more confident throwing the ball. That's not an issue. Now we can really work on what it takes to play quarterback here and the nuances. He's a different guy than he was in the spring and that just comes with growing, having bad days and working. But like any other position, it always comes down to confidence in my opinion and he doesn't worry about the way he's throwing it, and he's throwing it great. 
 
“It's just really helped elevate his game, where I'm comfortable if he has to come in there and take over a game, which was probably my number one priority going into fall camp. He has done a great job with that. Now he needs to keep going, but he's put himself in position to help his team win when he's called upon.” 
 
Notre Dame quarterbacks coach Tommy Rees knows a thing or two about people counting him out or overreacting to things that might not matter at the end of the day. Rees felt Jurkovec took positive steps in the spring and also took accountability for his mistakes. 
 
“With Phil, a lot was made after the Blue-Gold Game, and I think there was a lot more progress during the spring than probably that game showed,” Rees explained. I think a lot of that was not unfair because he needed to play better, but probably a little misleading on where we thought he was and what he could accomplish. 
 
“For Phil’s improvement through the summer, he really after the first couple practices I think he took a lot of ownership in what he was trying to accomplish. He took more ownership in getting his feet better. He took more ownership in learning the offense and making sure when he stepped on the field, there wasn’t a drop mentally in where he wanted to be.” 
 
That ownership has impressed many around the program as it’s led to a much better player heading into the 2019 season. 
 
“One thing we’ve talked about with him throughout this entire camp is when the plays are there let’s make them,” stated Rees. “When the plays aren’t there, let’s get us to a positive gain. Let’s get us out of trouble. That’s something as a young quarterback he needed to learn. The plays are there, let’s make them, let’s deliver, but let’s also recognize when maybe it’s not there and we need to tuck it and run or when we need to throw it away and get us out of a negative play.” 
 
Jurkovec got a taste of college football as he played in two games last fall. But he will now have to take on a different approach as he enters this season being one play away from leading the Irish. 
 
“As we shift gears here and go out of camp and get ready for preparation, now it’s all about, ‘Hey, you’re a play away from being in there when it really matters,’” said Rees. “It’s a cliché. Everyone says it: ‘You need to prepare to be the starter.’ But it’s a cliché for a reason. It’s real. 
 
“You need to prepare every day with the intensity like you’re going to play on Saturday. That’s his next step of understanding. As we get ready to play our opponents, you need to be as invested in the game plan as anybody on the field.”

 
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