Blue and Gold Illustrated

Oct. 1, 2018

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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Page 16 of 55 OCT. 1, 2018 17 • Malik Zaire (2013-16) exploded out of the gates 3-0 with an MVP per- formance in his starting debut dur- ing a victory versus LSU in the 2014 Music City Bowl and a scintillating passing clinic in the 2015 opener ver- sus Texas (19 of 22 for 313 yards with three touchdowns and no intercep- tions) even though he was known more as a runner. He struggled to throw the ball ef- fectively in the next game before suf- fering a season-ending injury, and eventually fell by the wayside. • DeShone Kizer (2014-16) showed tremendous promise as a first-year starter — and then backslid his sec- ond season. Now in 2018, we are seeing a highly talented figure in Wimbush not come close to maximizing his potential. Why? EXPERIENCE NOT NECESSARY Why were Notre Dame's three best seasons — by far — under now ninth- year head coach Brian Kelly the ones when he had the least amount of ex- perience at quarterback? Those would be 12-1 under first- year starter and redshirted freshman Golson in 2012, 10-3 and No. 11 fin- ish in 2015 with first-year starter and redshirted freshman Kizer, and 10-3 and No. 11 again in 2017 with first- year starter Wimbush. If you add in the 4-0 finish to the 2010 season with freshman Tommy Rees, you are talking about the three best seasons — and one of the best stretches outside of those three — with no previous experience at quarterback. Why? One of the primary reasons is I don't believe the coaching at the po- sition has been necessarily effective in the past. From a bigger picture perspective, this is a team that continues to try to fit its offense around what the deci- sion makers want, not what best fits the team. Why do I say that? • When Crist went down and Rees took over in 2010, Notre Dame be- came a defense-oriented team that made a greater attempt to run the football (using double tight end sets for the first time when Rees had to take the throttle) — and finished 4-0 after a 4-5 start. During the 4-5 start, the Irish threw 'We Need Them Both To Win' Two days before the Sept. 22 game at Wake Forest, word on the street had spread that junior Ian Book would replace senior Brandon Wimbush as the starting quarterback despite Notre Dame's 3-0 start. When asked about it following the Sept. 20 practice, head coach Brian Kelly put on his best political hat. "They're both going to play, I've said that all year," Kelly replied when asked about the quarterback situation. "We need them both to win. They're both ready." But was Wimbush going to start? "They're both going to play … we're going to need both of them to win," Kelly repeated. How was Book during the week of preparation for Wake Forest? "We think he is a good quarterback. We recruited him to Notre Dame to win championships, just as we did with Brandon," Kelly stated. "… If we put Ian in this weekend, it will be because we believe he can help us win." The Irish head coach did note he is usually "60-40" when it comes to splitting reps among his starting quarterback and backup in practices, but it was closer to "50-50" during the Wake Forest preparation. — Lou Somogyi From the start, head coach Brian Kelly has said senior Brandon Wimbush and junior Ian Book (above) would play this season and that the Irish "need them both to win." PHOTO BY BILL PANZICA

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