The Notre Dame offensive gameplan was a lot like those paintings at kiosks in malls across the country. It took a little while for us to really notice, but once we saw it, it was as clear as day.
Brandon Wimbush was whatever the opposite of grounded is supposed to be.
Of all of the different qualities individual quarterbacks on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish roster have, Brandon Wimbush has one that stands above the rest — he can run the football very, very well. In 2017, Brandon had 803 yards rushing and 14 touchdowns. It’s what he does best, and it is what makes the Irish offense dangerous.
What he has struggled with, obviously, has been his role as the passer. Last season just looked disastrous at times, and most of the other times weren’t all that great either. I saw signs of improvement in Notre Dame’s win over the Michigan Wolverines last week, but there was still plenty of doubt surrounding Brandon’s arm.
So in comes the MAC’s Ball State Cardinals. It’s pretty much the easiest game Notre Dame is supposed to have on the schedule this year. It was a game that the Irish were favored by more than 34 points to win, and many were predicting the offense would hang around 50 points.
Of course... that was because most of us figured that Notre Dame was going to run their offense and just plain overpower the Cardinals.
NOT SO FAST MY FRIEND!
It looked pretty deliberate to me and many others that the gameplan coming into this game was for Brandon Wimbush to pass, pass, pass. Perhaps Brian Kelly and Chip Long thought this was a great opportunity to help Brandon’s confidence moving forward — I don’t know, but the dramatic shortage of designed quarterback runs was very noticeable.
Kelly was asked about it in the post game press conferene:
“I don’t think it was intentional. It was part of playcalling and part of what we were doing. Sometimes we look too much into the whole ‘Did you run him? Did you not run him?’
“The game and the circumstances dictate the playcalling. Chip (Long) has to flow with the game. I don’t think he gets into it and says “I’m going to run him more or I’m not going to run him more.”
I’m going to go ahead and call bullshit on this one. Ball State was doing something so ridiculously different than the other 13 teams that Wimbush has faced with Chip Long calling the plays?
If this is the way it actually goes down, then there is no reason why Ian Book should still be QB2. GET WITH THE FLOW... and dictate the game yourself (especially against an inferior opponent). Using this excuse is just a bunch of crap.
Notre Dame was trying to use the passing game to help improve Brandon Wimbush’s confidence. It wasn’t needed, and probably only did the opposite with 3 interceptions. Wimbush finished the day throwing the ball for 297 yards (career high) and about a 55% completion percentage.
The experiment was a fail, and now there is only more pressure on Brandon and more doubt about why Ian Book is only handing the ball off for touchdowns inside the 5 yard line.
Nothing about today made much sense. The questions don’t make sense and the answers make even less sense. The Irish have a week to figure this all out. If they don’t change, the zero in the loss column will.