Notre Dame graduate senior right tackle Josh Lugg looked like he had been through it.
Gloves on his hands. Tape around his wrists. Sweat beading up underneath and seeping through his blue team-issued shirt. Black turf beads smattered across his face. All while he fielded questions from reporters inside the Fighting Irish’s indoor practice facility on Tuesday evening.
He uttered the word that would probably best describe him in that moment when asked to describe someone else — graduate senior quarterback Jack Coan.
“Grit,” Lugg said. “He’s gritty.”
If anyone would know, it’d be 6-7, 305-pound Lugg.
“He’s like a Navy Seal,” Lugg said. “I hate to make football comparisons to war or those who have served because those are the true warriors. But if you want to talk somebody who can lock it in and go to the next snap and not have any kind of doubt, that’s Jack Coan.”
The play that brought all of that to light has been documented in detail countless times now. But what’s it hurt to do so once more?
Coan’s middle finger on his throwing hand popped out of place two plays into the Irish’s final offensive drive against Toledo. Coan ran to the sideline, associate athletic trainer Mike Bean put his finger back in place then Coan tossed the game-winning touchdown to sophomore tight end Michael Mayer.
It all happened in a flash.
“I turned around and it was going like this,” Lugg said of Coan’s finger, sticking his own finger awkwardly to the side. “I was like, ‘Ow.’ He runs to the sidelines but then I hear him talking behind me giving us the play. I was like, ‘Wait a second.’ I was expecting Tyler [Buchner] there. He gives the play, throws a touchdown, and I never heard him complain about his finger.”
Textbook football folklore.
That’s the guy No. 12 Notre Dame (3-0) is rallying around going into Saturday’s game against No. 18 Wisconsin (1-1) at Soldier Field in Chicago. The Badgers have long been billed as one of the most physical teams in the country. Lugg wouldn’t want to have anyone other than Coan leading the Irish into battle against a team like that.
It’s of no coincidence Coan came from that program, too. He spent the first four years of his college career playing for Wisconsin head coach Paul Chryst. But to be on the level Lugg has lauded Coan for — to be akin to a Navy Seal in any regard in anyone’s eyes — says more about the person than the place he came from.
To Lugg, Coan is just built different. That’ll go a long way against the Badgers and beyond.
“It’s inspiring,” Lugg said. “It’s motivational. It pushes you. To be able to see that attitude and to have him around and the grit that he possesses, it’s great for our team.”
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