Brian Kelly spoke with the media after the Thursday practice for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team. Let’s just say that if you had quarterback questions still ringing in your head — this isn’t going to put them to bed as far as I’m concerned.
Has Ian Book closed the gap in any way?
I think what we know more than anything else is what Brandon’s strengths are. We didn’t know that (last year) we were trying to figure out as the season went ‘What can we do? What can’t we do?’ We got frustrated at times and he got frustrated. We know exactly what he can do and we’ll set our game plan that really goes to his strengths and we’ll do the same thing with Ian and we know that we can play them both if we need to.
“I don’t even know that we’re looking at it that way that one is closing the gap. I don’t think Ian Book is ever going to be the runner that Brandon Wimbush is. I don’t know that Brandon Wimbush is ever going to spin the ball the way that Ian Book does. I think we’ve given up on that notion of who’s going to close on (the other). I think they can both help us win and if we feel like we need them both to play at certain times we’ll do it and if we don’t, we won’t.”
Is this a good problem to have?
I think in this instance it is. We’ve had ones that were dicey like it’s 1A vs. 1B, the (DeShone) Kizer/Malik Zaire situation where you had two starters. They were really kind of the same – flip a coin. And then it just didn’t go well, obviously. This is a different situation. They complement each other very well.
Circling back to quarterback, you’ve been clear that Brandon is No. 1 and Ian is No. 2. Does Brandon need that? How do you balance it so he’s not looking over his shoulder?
I would change that and say that Brandon is not concerned if we felt like Ian needed to play. Let’s say we ran Brandon six times and he needed a blow. He’s not going to be concerned about me taking him out of the game. He knows the skill set that Ian has, that he can go in there and help us win too. It’s less about worrying about it and knowing that if we need to put him in, he knows he’s a guy that can come help us win. He’s about winning instead of ‘you’re taking reps from me.
You didn’t seem like you wanted to play two (QBs) earlier this season?
The game is such a fluid situation. I didn’t go into the LSU game saying I was going to play two. Sometimes, you guys, you know the game. I mean, I want to win the game and I know I have two winners. Brandon knows and Ian knows that both of us can help this football team win. They’re much more about that. The team winning and whatever we have to do to win.
This is not going to be shared reps, ad he takes a series, and he takes a series.’ This is going to be someone goes in to help the team because it’s a fluid situation. I’m just saying that at the end of the day there’s not going to be egos involved.
Maybe I’m being too simple here, but it sounds more and more like 2018 will have a quarterback situation much like the one in 2012. Every year during the Brian Kelly era (for the most part) we find Notre Dame heading into the season with some type of “quarterback situation,” but if I was to choose one to replicate, I suppose the one that went 12-0 with a great defense is the one that has me feeling the most confident about.
Yes, yes... two quarterbacks are zero quarterbacks for most people, but, this could absolutely work given the right path. I think the biggest key is the thought about Wimbush needing a breather because he just ran a half a mile. Kelly would insert Ian Book and roll right along. I just like the thought of letting Brandon be Brandon.
It’s not the starter and closer game that Everett Golson and Tommy Rees played in 2012, but it (on the surface) has a lot of the same characteristics.
Call me a fool, and maybe I am, but the prospect of all of this has me more confident and more excited than before. Am I freaking out? Yeah, but we are a week away so we are all allowed to freak out a bit as the season is set to begin.