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Notre Dame Football

Spring Game Serves As Motivation For Phil Jurkovec

April 15, 2019

Notre Dame quarterback Phil Jurkovec hasn’t experienced disappointment much in his football career. Heck, the 6-foot-5, 235-pounder hasn’t dealt with losing much in his career as he lost four games in three years as the starting quarterback at Pine-Richland (Pa.) High School. 

On Saturday, Jurkovec got his first extensive playing time in a Notre Dame uniform and turned in a mixed performance in the Blue-Gold game. 

Jurkovec completed 15-of-26 passes for 135 yards, but was sacked 12 times as he was wearing a non-contact red jersey, a jersey he would have preferred not to wear. 

“I would have rather gone live and just played, but with the circumstances, I couldn’t do that,” stated Jurkovec. “It was very disappointing and a pretty terrible day on my part.” 

It might sound like an excuse and likely is an excuse to a point, but Jurkovec’s strength is improvising and using his physical style of play to his advantage. 

“I felt like I wasn’t playing real football with the red jersey and you’re getting touched,” explained Jurkovec. “I guess I got that in my head and I was trying to play differently than I usually play when we’re going live.” 

While the storylines will be negative for the most part, Jurkovec had several positive moments on Saturday and throughout the spring. The Gibsonia native was able to show flashes on Saturday while admitting he started to press in the second half. 

“I think I started off well with my reads,” said Jurkovec. “Towards the end, I was trying to make things happen. I should have been smarter by throwing the ball away or trying to get upfield.” 

Jurkovec’s face was one of disappointment following the game, but it was a face I had seen before from the former Pine-Richland star. 

Rewind to 2016 and Pine-Richland just lost a tough road game at St. Edward (Ohio).

Jurkovec completed 20-of-31 passes for 296 yards, rushed for 108 yards and scored four touchdowns. However, he threw a pick late in the fourth quarter to allow St. Edward to steal the win. 

Following the game, Jurkovec had the same look on his face as he did on Saturday afternoon. He didn’t say much and wanted to get back to work. 

Jurkovec went to work. Pine-Richland only lost one more game over the last two seasons with Jurkovec as the starting quarterback, which was his final game in week six in 2016 to Central Catholic (Pa.) where he tore a ligament in his thumb in the first half, but managed 350 yards passing, 111 yards on the ground and scored four touchdowns.

The Western PA native will now get back to work and build on the positives of the spring.

“This spring has been really helpful for me working with Coach Rees on a lot of footwork and reads,” said Jurkovec. “It’s been a good spring overall.

“I’m not happy with where I’m at right now. I need to get a lot better in terms of 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.” 

Jurkovec also knows he can make big plays in Notre Dame’s offense as he left plays he’s made in practice on the field on Saturday.

“The standard I have for myself is that I would do better,” said Jurkovec. “A lot of those routes and plays we were doing, I’ve done and hit before. I expected more.

“I can say I’ve learned a lot. I just need to get a lot better.” 

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