Brandon Wimbush, Notre Dame Offense Inching Towards Being Unstoppable

The 2017 Notre Dame offense has been as dominant as any Notre Dame offense we’ve seen in many years.  Powered by one of the nation’s best offensive lines, the Irish are ripping off 300 yards on the ground on almost a weekly basis.  Georgia is the only team to hold Notre Dame to less than 33 points all season.  Here’s the thing though. This offense can still get better – a lot better.  As quarterback Brandon Wimbush continues his development, the Irish offense and its quarterback are inching towards unstoppable status.

Right now Brandon Wimbush is far from a finished product and both he and Brian Kelly will be two of the first people to admit that.  Right now Brandon Wimbush is still a bit of a work in progress as a passer and needs to improve his completion percentage to become a complete player.  Right now Brandon Wimbush is one of the most dangerous weapons in all of college football who continues to improve week in and week out.

Earlier in the season it was a bit rough to watch the Notre Dame passing attack.  Wimbush struggled quite a bit early in the year highlighted by a case of the yips against Miami of Ohio.  Supremely talented, Wimbush was putting the fear of God into defenses with his feet and doing the same to Notre Dame fans when he dropped back to pass.

Since then, however, we’ve seen significant progress in Wimbush the passer.  While his completion percentage is still lower than you’d ideally like, he is coming off a career high 280 yard passing performance that also featured his fourth 100 yard rushing performance on the season.  His latest two rushing touchdowns this past weekend added to his Notre Dame quarterback single season rushing touchdown record that currently stands at 13 with three games to go.  Oh yeah, Wimbush also sat out the entire North Carolina game with an injury.

Passing, Wimbush has found the endzone 11 times this season while tossing just two interceptions and none since week three against Boston College.

Wimbush can – and almost certainly will – get better though.  A lot better.  We’ve been seeing him improve as a passer each week.  In that week three contest against Boston College, Wimbush was wildly inaccurate.  He completed just 11 of 24 attempts for a measly 94 yards.  That same game he topped 200 yards rushing though and found the endzone four times with his legs. It was the perfect juxtaposition of where Wimbush was as a runner and a passer.

Fast forward to last weekend and Wimbush still completed just 50% of his passes but his 15 completions covered 280 yards and those totals should have been much higher had the Irish receivers hauled in a couple deep balls that Wimbush was just a bit late on.  Wimbush has, however, been getting closer and closer on those deeps balls each week and sooner or later – probably sooner – he’s going to hit on one of those and the floodgates could open.

Even with some of the limitations of the Notre Dame offense, right now the Irish are racking up ridiculous yardage totals and lighting up the scoreboard week in and week out.  Last week the only thing that stopped Notre Dame was Notre Dame itself.  The Irish topped 700 yards and nearly set a school record for yards in a game against a pretty solid Wake Forest defense.  They are averaging 324 yards on the ground each week.  Again, they are doing this with a passing game that can still be described as a work in progress.

As Wimbush improves each week, the Notre Dame offense is inching towards unstoppable status.  The passing game has already progressed enough to the point that it has to be respected by opposing defenses which has allowed Josh Adams to reel off a Heisman campaign and the Notre Dame rushing attack to conjure up memories of yesteryear.

It’s not all on Wimbush at this point though.  He also needs his receivers to start winning the battle for contested balls.  Last week Notre Dame receivers had a chance to haul in some contested passes and just as they have most of the year, they were unable to rise to that challenge.  Wimbush isn’t going to suddenly be confused for Tom Brady in the accuracy department but his numbers would look a lot better if the Irish receivers start coming down with some 50/50 balls.

It’s been a problem for a while now for Notre Dame, but the development of Chase Claypool could help in this department.  The sophomore is coming off a career high 180 outburst against Wake and has shown the kind of tenacity in the blocking department throughout the season to suggest that he should be able to win more contested battles than he loses.

Even with some moving parts here,  Brandon Wimbush has accounted for 24 combined touchdowns this year.  Had he not missed the North Carolina game, he’d likely have a great chance to top 1,000 yards rushing and 2,000 yards passing.  And he is only getting better.

Wimbush and the Notre Dame offense will have an opportunity to show the world just how good they are and how much they have improved since struggling to move the football against Georgia in week two.  Wimbush looked uncomfortable that night back in September, but since then we’ve seen a young man who has gotten more and more  comfortable in the pocket.  A young quarterback who has gotten quicker with his reads.  A playmaker who makes the kind of plays that are impossible to coach.

Notre Dame doesn’t need Wimbush or its offense to be unstoppable this weekend to leave Miami with their playoff hopes intact.  They do, however, need them to continue inching their way to that level to head home knowing they probably have their playoff destiny on their own hands.  He’s been doing it each of the last few weeks. If he doesn’t stop now, a few of us might be changing our plans for New Years Eve.

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  1. I guess there really was nothing for us to be “nervous,” “concerned,” or “worried” about, “Buddy Boy”. How silly to think anyone could stop this “unstoppable” O.

  2. I see words like “nervous”, “concerned” and “worried” in the comments. If I can offer some advice from an old man who has followed ND since the ’60s; sit back, relax and simply enjoy this wonderful season and this great team. In the old days ND won games with their offensive line simply taking over and wearing down the opponent. There was no time in those heydays when we didn’t win the 4th quarter. We have the same kind of line today. You might point out Wake Forest and what they did last week in the 4th quarter. That meant less than a gnat’s fart. The game was already over. Like I say, enjoy this team and the build-up to Saturday.

  3. Agree with everything except you’re a little too nice on the receivers. Last week there were times when they didn’t just fail to come up with 50-50 balls, they dropped more than a few that they should have had. Wimbush should have had well over 300 yards. Go Irish!


  5. BGC, I like your confidence in The Irish. But, I’m a little more than suspicious of this game. In that previous opponents didn’t take us that seriously, especially at MSU. Now that the cat is out of the bag Miami will be pulling all their tricks out of the bag. On comparative scores we look to be the better team. But, we are on the road, super hostile atmosphere. They will try to shock, awe, bling us from the start. We must keep our composure and not be intimidated at all. Yes, it will be Fun!
    BTW, what do you say when someone says is that with two g’s and they go ahead and put in 3?

    1. Greg, I am not as worried about hostile fans as I am about hostile officiating. But I just think the system Long has used so far (against both weak and strong competition) will work. We’ll probe their “D” for a possession or two, then break out with three or four quick scores, then do what needs to be done to finish the game. It’s been that way all year (except for Georgia).

      I think Miami will find ND to be a team that plays a little faster on defense than they expect (or at least than they can simulate in practice). This has been the way of it all year, including with Georgia.

      One thing other thing that concerns me is the possibility that Miami may have been devoting a little practice time to us all year long…from week one on through…what you called the “bag of tricks”. That could make it interesting if that has happened.

    2. I too am nervous. Yes we blew out USC and NC State. I’m not as worried about the opponents not taking us seriously, I think by the time we got to NC State that cat was out of the bag and we took care of them.

      But this is really the first away game of the year that holds this much significance (well, unless you include the game against Georgia, which might as well have been an away game). You have two teams fighting for a potential playoff spot in a game where the loser is out, and this time it’s we who are the visiting team.
      I think the team is very business like this year. I don’t think that part will phase them. But crowd noise could be a factor. This team has been very disciplined this year, as far as avoiding costly penalties. They will need every bit of that this weekend.

      One good effect of the WF game is it may have been a wake up call. That may help the defense in particular to maintain laser focus going into this game. And on the other side you had a Miami team that handily beat the Hokies last week and now everyone is treating them like they did OSU last week. Maybe that will make them a bit overconfident this week. It’s very little, but sometimes it’s the little things that make the difference. Just look back at Georgia. It may have been the little thing of the home crowd not showing up that gave just enough of an edge to Georgia, and just enough disruption to cause us to lose by one point. I’ll take whatever advantage we can get.

    1. Greg – Hell yes. It’s what I live for. I love games like this. But I’m not sure that it will be as close as you seem to think.

      BGC ’77 ’82

    2. I prefer a nice relaxing blow out. Some people like winning a nailbiter of a game. Not me. I loved that with USC I was able to relax by halftime.

      1. I like them both ways Damian. This is going to be a fun Saturday night for the working people of this country!

        La Crosse, Indiana

  6. The passing game may be key against Miami. That’s not to say there will be more passing yards then rushing yards, but having an effective passing game will keep Miami honest in it’s defense, allowing more rushing. If their passing continues to improve, with their rushing attack and Wimbush’s keen ability to run with the ball, this offense can cause any defense headaches.

    I love how Wimbush has that ability to turn was looks like a certain sack into a first down play. We’ve seen it time and time again. That’s just incredible. You go from “oh crap” to “OMG” all in the space of 2 seconds. How does he do it?

    1. Agree, Damian! That’s one thing that Wimbush took away from the GA game and even stated it in his press conference afterwards that he had to do a better job in putting his shoulder down and getting the first down to keep the chains moving. He knows that was a HUGE play in the GA and has clearly learned from it. I think it may have been against Wake last week when there was about 3 or 4 yards to gain with two defenders closing in on him and he just put his shoulder down, taking a pretty big hit, but kept the chains moving. Those little things reflected at the most important leadership position at QB goes a hell of a long way with your teammates. Them seeing that will make them play harder for you and they’ll do anything for you out there just as you’ve shown you’d do anything for them. Wimbush is quickly becoming one of my favorite ND players of all time. Love the kid!

      1. Not much more to add on to Frank’s article and Damian/ChrisJ comments about Wimbush. It’s amazing , the progress of this 1st year starter –keeps getting better going into the 10th game of the season. It’s fun/enjoyable watching this kid get better each week as is the Fighting Irish squad of 2017. Go Irish.

  7. Jeff, facsimile of Davis, you want to know how I really feel. You got it. Book would be in protocol after a few rounds with the Canes. He is a scout team image. As to “pressure” The Winners relish it. The losers like you despise it. It’s all part of the game, get used to it Pantie waste.

    1. “Pressure” happens when players are not prepared for the game. When they are prepared for the game, it’s called “fun”.
      We do not need to worry about pressure this year.

      BGC ’77 ’82

  8. Wimbush is as cool and collected as they come. He never seems “lost” out there or rattled. Even in the GA game, I didn’t see fear in his eyes or anything like that, it was just his second start and played against the fastest and overall best defense maybe in the nation. Pretty tough for your 2nd game but I would put Wimbush and Co. up against any defenses now that they have been more seasoned. What is crazy is we are putting up this many yards and points each game but our passing game is still a work in progress so there is still room to add on to what they are already producing. That is insane considering this offense is pretty much breaking records in the entire history of ND football. We’ll find out more this weekend.

    Go Irish!

    1. This is a good point, Chris, that people don’t bring up as much as I’d expect them to. Whatever his deficiencies as a passer and his skills as a runner, Wimbush plays under control and with poise. Even when he’s had “the yips” he hasn’t been panicked and he’s only been reckless with the ball a couple of times (he’ll need to use two hands on the ball when he scrambles against Miami). When he’s made mistakes he’s come back from them.

      He demonstrates a great deal of maturity and doesn’t get rattled. I don’t think there’s a stage too big for him.

  9. I know it’s a little premature, but we must be ready for everything. But, in special teams, do we have an onside kick unit in case we are behind in the end and need to get the ball back.
    I just hope Wimbush doesn’t get psyched out or injured early on and controls the clock and the game. This is only his ninth start, and on a mega huge stage. Hope He can handle the pressure.

    1. Wimbush will be just fine and IF he does get hurt ND has the best backup in Ian Book. Seems like youre the only one who cant handle the pressure.

    2. GK , I think if Wimbush and O score early—will calm his nerves, hence giving him confidence in a hostile huge crowd. To repeat a comment I made in another article—Irish need to handle adversity when things go wrong. Like the blocked punt in the NCST game.

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