Blue and Gold Illustrated

Oct. 8, 2018*

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

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6 OCT. 8, 2018 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED BY LOU SOMOGYI T he idea of forcing opposing defen- sive coordinators to prepare for two different quarterbacks or two different systems on offense might sound appealing, but it is not neces- sarily practical, according to Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly. The topic was raised during the week of preparation for the Stanford game Sept. 29 with junior Ian Book, the new starter, and senior Brandon Wimbush, who started the first three contests this season and 12 of the 13 in 2017. Wimbush's forte has been his ad- lib explosiveness as a runner, which included a quarterback school-record 14 rushing touchdowns last season among his 803 yards on the ground, the second most in one season by a Notre Dame signal-caller. His skill set was needed against Michigan's ferocious pass rush and veteran defense in the opener. Fur- thermore, he was Notre Dame's top playmaker in an offense that was rebuilding significantly at running back and did not have an alpha fig- ure among the pass catchers. "The whole offseason was focused on Brandon beating Michigan," Kelly said. "[Running backs] Jafar Armstrong and Tony Jones were not ready. [Receiver] Kevin Austin wasn't ready. This offense was not mature enough going into the Michi- gan game. "The playmaker on our offense was Brandon Wimbush. It needed to center around him." As the running backs and receiv- ing corps began to find their legs and identity, step two was using the playmaking skills of everyone to find more balance in the offense. That is where Book's grasp of sec- ond-year offensive coordinator Chip Long's system, specifically the pass- ing game, was needed, which is why Book received the starting nod at Wake Forest. Book's specialty is quick reads in the passing attack and getting the ball out of his hands rapidly and ac- curately to an assortment of targets. Ten different players caught passes from Book in the 56-27 win at Wake Forest Sept. 22, nine of them in the first half alone. "We're looking for somebody to facilitate the offense and get the ball out to our playmakers, and that was one of the reasons why we thought Ian would be a great fit for that, and that happened," Kelly said. "Two, if you're a receiver, you know that ev- ery route that I run, I've got a chance to get the football, and so that creates a great energy amongst your ranks in terms of finishing your route, be- ing precise, doing all the little things necessary to be in position to catch the football. "So it rises everybody, certainly, when you have those kind of num- bers." UNDER THE DOME TWO QUARTERBACKS, ONE SYSTEM Using separate packages for Ian Book and Brandon Wimbush is not part of the plan Keeping senior quarterback Brandon Wimbush locked in after losing his starting role is going to be vital to the team's present and future success. PHOTO BY ANGELA DRISKELL

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