Blue and Gold Illustrated

May 2017 Issue

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

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24 MAY 2017 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED BY BRYAN DRISKELL N otre Dame's offense put up good numbers in 2016, av- eraging 30.9 points and 417.6 yards per game. Un- fortunately, those numbers became outweighed by an offense that consistently struggled to make game- winning plays — especially late. Now under the leadership of new coordinator Chip Long, Notre Dame will look to have an offensive resur- gence. Long has upped the unit's tempo and brought wrinkles that should help maximize the athleticism on that side of the ball. Just two years removed from a re- cord-setting 2015 season, Notre Dame has plenty of talent returning to the lineup. Leading receiver Equanimeous St. Brown plus All-American offensive linemen Mike McGlinchey and Quen- ton Nelson will lead the way in 2017. In addition, running back Josh Adams is poised for a big junior campaign be- hind an improving group of blockers. In order to complete the bounce back and put together a playoff- caliber offense, Notre Dame needs several players to emerge in the fall. During the first spring under Long, those players had breakout perfor- mances — and they were not alone. Here are our top five players who put together much improved or breakout performances: BRANDON WIMBUSH JUNIOR QUARTERBACK For the first time in years, Notre Dame did not have a quarterback battle raging during the spring. The lack of competition for the starting position allowed the Irish staff to fo- cus on building up Wimbush. Rated as a consensus top-75 recruit coming out of Jersey City (N.J.) St. Pe- ter's Prep, Wimbush has all the phys- ical tools to be an elite quarterback. What he lacks is the experience, and right now he remains an unknown. When it comes to successful quarter- back play, no one really knows how a signal-caller will perform under du- ress until he faces it in games. That did not stop Wimbush from having a strong spring session and giving the Irish staff some confidence that it has a potential difference maker at the position. Wimbush's physical tools were on full display — his arm talent is outstanding, he proved to be a playmaker with his legs and he clearly worked to speed up his release. Even more important, Wimbush showed the poise needed to thrive at quarterback. From the first practice to the final TOP SPRING BREAKOUT PLAYERS: OFFENSE Several skill players emerged to show they can make an impact for the Irish Junior wide receiver Miles Boykin, who had five catches for 102 yards in the Blue-Gold Game, was a consistent playmaker for the Notre Dame offense this spring. PHOTO BY JOE RAYMOND

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