Notre Dame Football: Brandon Wimbush Struggled During Saturday’s Practice

Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

The single biggest debate over the offseason about the Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team has been about Brandon Wimbush, and if he should be the starting quarterback. Many have pointed to Ian Book as the guy that should be playing, but ever since spring, Wimbush has held the QB1 position pretty firmly.

We have heard a lot of good things about Wimbush and his improvements, but a quick look at the practice video shows a lot more of the same. The easy throws — the throws a quarterback should make in his sleep, have been his biggest obstacle.

It is just ONE practice and Brian Kelly had this to say:

“Last year he struggled with the short throws. De-accelerating, not finishing. He’s improving. Now the athletic throws need to improve. Let it go and trust it. He’s cerebral and he thinks about things too much at times. He had a great day yesterday. He needs to move the offense better. Ian was outstanding in moving the second group. At the end of the day, you can’t be worried about your throws or you can’t move the offense.”

One practice is one practice. I’m not trying to sell anyone on the fact that this is anything other than a concern, but I remain patient that the staff will be able to work this out with Wimbush. If not, I think it’s fairly obvious that Kelly won’t hesitate to use the hook.

I offer no more commentary than that, because I’m not willing to jump the gun after one practice during a camp that by all other accounts has been really good for Wimbush.


I read he struggled during warm-ups...

But looked much better during 11-on-11

Ok, fair article, but there's no buts ...

OK, fair article, as stated it’s just one practice & it’s a concern BW missed easy throws a QB should make in his sleep & maybe BW can fix that with proper coaching and be a model of consistency for one whole season. But there’s no buts … it’s not a good excuse to say he missed easy throws but then he looked much better later, that’s justifying inconsistency, that’s not winning football, unless we want to see 50% W’s and 50% L’s after the season. Furthermore, what makes BW’s easy throw misses (in the video) and misses into the target net (in the video) a greater concern is that we have been hearing all kinds of news of BW working on improving during the offseason and being much better in his footwork , throwing motion and precision. The ND QB needs to move the O, period. If the ND O is struggling there has to be confidence the ND QB can make the easy throw to keep the O moving forward. ND’s passing game needs to be substantially better & more consistent this year for ND to have any chance to run the table. From recent practice reports and what Kelly said after practice and looking at the last practice video it seems that Book is now seriously challenging BW for the starting QB role, and that’s good for both QB’s. Both BW and Book’s performance will be carefully watched the rest of training. It will get more interesting as QB’s practice against different coverages and trick D plays, where a QB’s knowledge of the D is critical to command the RPO. It’s just one practice, but seems Kelly’s patience is running out. A QB not making good RPO decisions fast enough, throwing poorly or into double coverage and missing easy throws is not going to win the QB job. Maybe bad passing was ok last year, ND had an awesome O line and RB’s, this year bad passing will increase the # of L’s. It’s time for BW to get his act together and be a good QB consistently, or this is the time of Book. Maybe Kelly shouldn’t have cancelled the practice after Culver.

I noticed some of the same in other practices, too.

He skied a few short passes over WR’s heads. All that makes me nervous. I hope he works it all out, but I’m still 50/50 on him. And I don’t trust Kelly not to be spin doctoring. I still hope for the best, though, because the best could be great.

Ok he's been great, now he's struggling

Can’t wait for the next practice where he looks decidedly average.

Seems about right

Yes BW put in a lot of work this offseason but I was not expecting him to be a 70% passer this season.

His play is going to be more heavily scrutinized and I’m more interested in how he bounces back. That’s the key to developing consistency. I mean every QB has bad throws, bad practices etc.

If the clamoring for book is worth anything, then BW struggling in a practice shouldn’t matter.

There is no pressure and no one covering the WRs so it will be much tougher to make accurate throws in games.

Not sure that’s how the "yips" work

If that’s what this is. Too much thinking is I think the issue, not too much info.

Yeah I understand that

But he could’ve of just had a bad practice, nothing to do with pressure. I think that’s apart of becoming consistent with all the work and changes he’s done this offseason. It’s one thing to do it in drills, but different to do it in live football. but as the reporter said they are probably projecting a bunch of thoughts into it with all the scrutiny, along with the defensive play, etc. could be any number of factors contributing. I’m more interested in how BW practices the next day.

Optimistically ....

I hope you’re right, … Michigan game will be telling, they’ll play the run, ND QB, whoever that is will have to call the right play & entire team execute

Having a bad practice is one thing

Defenses making good plays, players dropping balls, whatever….. but if you are struggling, that is something you can’t blame on someone else. Wimbush is a very talented athlete, someone who in the right offense, makes a serious case for a possible top award. That being said, I’ve yet to see one single game where I felt happy he was our QB. I think this practice is just another reason why I feel the Irish are better served moving on from Wimbush. He’s been the #1 guy now for like 18 months…he shouldnt be "struggling".

Not a single game? You obviously are very hard to please.

I thought he did fairly well against at least half our opponents, okay against a couple and could have done better against 4. Still, a 10-3 record following a 4-8 year where our previous QB was a preseason Heisman hopeful looks pretty decent. Against Michigan State, Miami (OH), USC, NC State, Wake Forest and Navy, BW managed to pass for 11 TDs and rush for an additional 8 TDs. That’s over 3 TD’s per game, even though he didn’t necessarily light up the passing stats column. I’ll take the 6 wins where the QB leads the team to an average of 41 points a game. Of course, if Book had started all those games, I’m sure you feel that the Irish would have scored at least 50 points a game with Book responsible for at least 25 TDs. Before you think that though, you might want to check out his stats for his only start of the season against UNC. Against arguably the worst team we played all year, Book went 17 for 31 (54.8%) for 146 yards, 1 TD and 2 INTs. He also rushed for 11 yards and no TDs. Be careful what you wish for, DR. Remember, we’re just one year removed from Kizer and his 4-8 record. Book could take us back there just as easily as BW could.

Obviously ...

… your recall is selective. Wimbush started last year generally well except he didn’t do well in a game that counted a lot vs Georgia, as for example others didn’t play well either, like McGlinchey missing a block leading to sack in last possession, AND BW missed a totally open receiver before the sack, read the game analysis to learn more. BW fell apart at season’s end, he just couldn’t perform against the stronger teams like Miami, Stanford and LSU. Bottom line his completion rate was under 50%, that’s poor, but a good ND running game offset the poor passing in many games. This year ND doesn’t have the luxury of a superb O line and outstanding RB, so let’s be real, the running game this year can not be better than last year. Ergo the ND QB must be a better passer. So missing easy passes in practice (watch the video!) is not acceptable, passes missing the entire target net (watch the video) is not acceptable. And consider the aforementioned misses were even without the D covering the receivers. Watch the video and where Book and Murk we’re putting the ball on open receivers vs BW, watch the video! BW’s challenge is to get better on QB passing fundamentals, AND to get better at faster reading of D’s, to make better decisions, to execute the RPO well consistently, and to adapt to situational chaos. That’s a lot, maybe too much? BW is s terrific person, no questions there. So it’s good to hear Book & BW are challenging each other and Murk looking good too. This will be the year of ND’s return to a passing QB for any chance to run the tsble and Kelly (under some pressure too) has to start the best QB. If BW can fix all his problems and be a passing QB then he may win the Heisman and should be under consideration for a statue outside ND stadium, next to Kelly’s statue. Let’s get real people!

So you mean to tell me that BW was the only

terrible looking player in the Miami game lol

I think watched the same video you are referring to and the video showed some terrible throws by BW and I also saw him comeback and make better throws right behind the bad ones. Now from what I heard, Wimbush terrible throws came in warmups.

Nevertheless, it seems to me from the video I saw is that only BW and Jurk are competing for the QB spot. Didn’t see much of Book. I think the reporters question and BKs response give more context than the "BW threw some bad passes were doomed" perspective

In video ....

BW & Jurk throwing to receivers ,,,, BW & Book into target nrt

I may be selective in bringing up these particular games...

…but no more so than many here who are selectively pointing out BW’s worst moments. Some balance maybe? At least give this guy the benefit of the doubt before the season starts. You can weep and wail all you want once he blows the Michigan game and needs his backups to salvage the game.

So you kind of showcased the problem AND the solution

He stinks throwing the ball. Stats and eye test and everything bears that out. But he is a great team leader on O and absolutely makes plays. How do we maximize his assets and limit his liabilities? Move him away from QB but keep putting the ball in his hands. Make him a Reggie Bush and hand the ball off in the backfield, run jet sweeps with him at WR. throw some screens his way. Make him a wildcat QB.

Not a single game

Is absolutely correct. You’re confusing great athlete with good QB. BW is simply not a great or even good QB. Two games above 55% completion percentage. His single best game was against MSU, a team we torched running the ball on. I have no illusions of Book being some massively better player, but he is the better throwing QB. Clearwall’s reply to this thread is exactly what needs to happen. Get him in the game, put the ball in his hands, allow him to be the dynamic player he is. Let him run some wildcat, let him throw a few passes, but do not allow him to be the starting QB. Teams will still have to respect his abilities, and you don’t have to force either Book or Jurkovec to be perfect overnight right away.

You bring up Kizer’s record in a 4-8 season, but fail to mention the fact that we had a defense destroyed by a bad coordinator on top of injuries piled up out the wazoo. However, Kizer still accounted for more yards, and more TDs (34 to 30). He had a better completion percentage too. He had two games that were below 50% completion throwing…a loss to VT and a loss in the infamous hurricane game in which we had no business throwing (blame that on BK). 4-8 wasn’t on Kizer, it was on the lack of defense and the bad playcalling decisions of our HC. Not much changed in 2017 on offense aside from losing Kizer, but ALOT changed on the defensive side of things…

so you're going to leave out Kizer's terrible Stanford game???

You're confusing passing stats with offensive efficiency and scoring

ND was the 11th most efficient offence last season, the best in the BK era. BW had 14 (FOURTEEN) rushing touchdowns. A QBs job is to move the ball efficiently and win games, not just to pass. It all works together.

Also, I feel like I’m in crazy town with everyone saying how Book is a better passer. He was decent for being plopped into a few games, but he also threw a backbreaking pick six against Miami and only had a 1:1 TD to INT ratio (much worse than BWs 16:6 ratio). Not to mention, he played awful against North Carolina, who had one of the worst passing defenses in the country last year. Complaining about BW in Miami or LSU and selectively choosing to forget Book against North Carolina and Miami doesn’t make sense.

So yeah, maybe Book completed 5% more passes, but he also threw more interceptions and is not as good of a runner. I’ll take balls in the dirt over balls into the hands of opposing backs any day of the week.

*Note: none of this is to say that Book is a bad QB, or that he can’t win games or be a good QB. It’s just saying that people who are crapping on BW as if he had a bad season, are stupid and are not looking at the full picture. BW had a terrible passing season, but a pretty good QB season.

How effective is he "driving the offense'

When he’s throwing 10 feet over guys, throwing balls in the dirt, missing wide open short passes? And he might be moving us too, but he’s putting a huge strain on the offense to do so. Furthermore, DR mentioned this but we dont have McGlinchey and Nelson and Adams this year to take the load off the terrible passing of BW this year. That was a luxury last year. 2nd and 10, 3rd and 10, not as big a deal when you have JA running for 1200 a game and the entire left side of the OL with gaping holes. Can we count on that this year? And even if you could, would you WANT that? Or would you rather have Book who wont run for 300 a game and 2-3 TDs but will put you in 2nd and 5, 3rd and 3 most of the time and then rely on BW as a wildcat or a RB/WR hybrid to make the electric plays he did last year? I’d rather maximize the talent of my ENTIRE roster than stubbornly force a "he’s our QB live or die" mantra.

Even throwing "10 feet over guys, balls into the dirt, and missing short passes"

BW was still more effective than Book last year as a passer, or at least equal. BW protected the ball better, threw less picks per attempt, had a slightly higher YPA, and a slightly higher QBR. Book had a slightly higher completion percentage. The stats are there, and while they don’t tell the whole story, they do tell most of it. To me, this sounds like a nod to BW in the passing department. Plus, I think everyone can agree he was a better runner.

You’re implying that 2nd and 10 and 3rd and 10 was the norm last year with BW, but the stats and games just don’t back that up. It’s a false premise. Our offense was super efficient last year with BW at the helm, obviously in part due to a great line. But Book had that line too.

I get what your argument is, but the idea that Book will be more effective in putting us in short yardage situations is just not backed up by the data. Will passing be more important this year than last because of a less strong line, probably, but all of this talk about BW "stalling the offense" last year is just hot air.

You’re in a time warp ...

Last year is gone, done, finito, acabado! Last year ND had a super O line, super RD, so was great situation for a running QB like BW except when ND run was stuffed by Georgia, Stanford, Miami & LSU. This year ND will not have a great running game. You need to think why others think you crazy thinking BW a better passer than Book. Miami game was 20-0 (over) when Book threw interception. NC was his 1st start an a W, check ESPN stats on passes, yardage ,,,, So no your comparing apples & oranges thus the crazy reputation. Times have changed, get with it! Lol

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