The single biggest question mark for Notre Dame headed into the 2018 is at quarterback once again. Brandon Wimbush’s wild inconsistency and eventual bowl game benching, combined with Ian Book’s Citrus Bowl heroics has another quarterback competition ready to kick off. In order to prepare, Wimbush reportedly spent time working with quarterback guru Madei Williams to recapture the form that made him a highly sought after recruit four years ago.
At this time last year the Brandon Wimbush era was just getting off the ground and at the time the idea of Wimbush needing to win the starting quarterback position for 2018 seemed unfathomable. Expectations were high with many predicting Wimbush would be the best quarterback of the Brian Kelly Era.
Throughout the 2017 campaign, though, Wimbush struggled. At first he experienced some inconsistent accuracy early in the season. Then the turnovers came in numbers in late season losses to Miami and Stanford. By the time the Irish were accepting the Citrus Bowl Trophy, Wimbush had spent an afternoon on the sideline watching Ian Book ignite an Irish offense after Wimbush struggled to hit even wide open receivers.
What made the struggles of Wimbush so shocking was how accurate he was as a prep quarterback. This is a kid who completed 72% of his passes as a senior at St. Peter’s Prep. We’re not talking about a raw athlete who was just running around and making plays by being the best athlete on the field. He was an accurate quarterback who threw 32 touchdowns to 5 interceptions as a senior.
To recapture what made him such a highly rated recruit in the first place, Wimbush went back to his roots and worked with quarterback guru Madei Williams according to the South Bend Tribune’s Eric Hansen. For those unfamiliar, Williams was a backup to Donovan McNabb at Syracuse who has made a name for himself as a quarterback tutor over the years.
Williams thinks that all of the problems that resulted in Wimbush completing less than 50% of his passes on the season can be fixed according to Hansen.
“All of that can be fixed. It’s nothing where he couldn’t handle the pressure. It was just a matter of not correcting the bad habits he was creating throughout the season — whether it was himself not being able to correct those bad habits or coach Rees not being able to correct those bad habits that were occurring mechanically.
While Williams’s comment about Rees is sure to draw the attention – and perhaps the ire – of the Notre Dame coaching offense, it will be interesting to see if he is correct. There is no doubt that Wimbush has the highest ceiling of all of the Notre Dame quarterbacks in 2018, but if he is not able to improve on his completion percentage to made opponents respect the passing game, it shouldn’t shock anyone to see Ian Book start against Michigan to start the 2018 season.
If Williams is right though and Wimbush can become a much better passer to compliment the skill he possesses as a runner, the Notre Dame offense could take the kind of steps forward that are needed for a legit playoff run in the fall. With spring footbal right around the corner, we won’t have to wait too much longer to find out how much Wimbush’s time with Williams helped him get back on track.