Notre Dame students returned to campus from Spring Break 2017 earlier this week and the football team returns to the practice field on Wednesday. Starting quarterback Brandon Wimbush didn’t spend his spring break in Cancun or Miami or even Lake Beck though. Wimbush spent his vacation working in San Diego with renown quarterback guru George Whitfield. Will the extra work pay off?
Wimbush spent last week working with Whitfield along with Tennessee’s Jarrett Guarantano, TCU’s Kenny Hill, Indiana’s Richard Lagow and Wyoming’s Josh Allen. The group worked with Whitfield both on and off the field for the week on fundamentals and in film room situation. According to The Knowxville News Sentinel, it was no week of fun in the sun.
On the field, they will work on fundamentals and footwork. In the classroom, they will study film of their individual throwing sessions. The group will make trips to the beach to use the sand as an unstable surface and wade into water above the knees to build strength and balance on drop backs. A third of their throws during the week will be with a tennis ball to avoid arm fatigue.
The question, however, is will it work? Whitfiled told the Sentinel the goal of such a week is to deliver some incremental gains to a group of quarterbacks who hope to be among the next great college quarterbacks.
“Even if the change here is incremental, there has been some success,” Whitfield said. “If you can shave off theoretically a tenth of a second of drop so the ball arrives a tenth of a second downfield sooner, that is a win.”
Notre Dame fans are very familiar with the work of George Whitfield after all of the time former quarterback Everett Golson spent training with him during his year of exile from Notre Dame in 2013. The training was hyped by the media and fans alike and for a little while in 2014, it looked like the work did some real good for Golson.
Through the first half of the season Notre Dame was undefeated and Golson was in the Heisman conversation with 16 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. By season’s end, Notre Dame was 7-5 and Golson threw just 13 touchdowns to 10 interceptions over the final six games before losing his starting job to Malik Zaire in the Music City Bowl. In Golson’s case, however, a very strong argument could be made that the problems he encountered in 2014 were more between the earholes than anything else.
Fool Me Once?
After watching the rise and fall of Golson all within a single season, however, it’s easy to see how some Notre Dame fans may be a bit apprehensive about Wimbush working with Whitfield last week. Most fans might be surprised to learn, however, that this wasn’t the first time Wimbush trained with the quarterback guru. According to Eric Hansen, Wimbush contracted Whitfield last January before his sophomore season. Even with Kizer and Zaire in the most publicized quarterback competition in the country ahead of him, Wimbush was looking for ways to improve last year already.
Gains or Not Last Week Was Good For Wimbush, Notre Dame
Whether or not Wimbush shaved a tenth of a second off his delivery or not last week is really irrelevant. The fact that he was there working over his spring break to prepare for taking over the reigns of the Notre Dame offense is what Notre Dame fans should be focusing on. Wimbush has long been considered to be the quarterback with the “highest ceiling” of last year’s trio of signal callers, but he still heads into 2017 with very limited experience.
Let’s also not forget that Whitfield has worked with some of the best quarterbacks in the NFL and professional quarterbacks still train with him in the off-season as well. He might not have been able to work wonders with Golson four years ago, but that shouldn’t temper expectations for any gains Wimbush may have made last week. When Whitfield worked with Golson in 2013, Brian Kelly and the Notre Dame staff was well aware and Whitfield was well aware of what Kelly expected of his quarterback.
Any work WImbush put in will also undoubtedly be more beneficial to him in the long run than the work most college students did on their spring breaks. The fact that Wimbush didn’t spend his break relaxing of goofing around speaks volumes to the work he is putting in to becoming the next great Notre Dame quarterback.
Time will tell if all of the work will pay off down the road but for now, Notre Dame fans shouldn’t really care if Wimbush’s delivery is a split second faster than it was two weeks ago at this time – although it would be nice if was. As Wimbush leads Notre Dame back onto the practice field to resume spring practice on Wednesday, they should care that while their team’s starting quarterback may be a bit green in the fall, he’s doing everything he can to prepare himself to hit the ground running.