Mailbag

Notre Dame Football Tailgate Mailbag: Vanderbilt Edition

Notre Dame QB Brandon Wimbush

We asked our fans to submit some questions this week via Twitter and they responded with some great ones.  To get prepared for today’s game with Vanderbilt we figured Saturday AM was a great time to post our answers.  If you’re not already following us on Twitter, do so now and submit your questions next week when we ask!

Will ND rotate the Linebackers against Vandy? @FrankSerra3

I think we’ll see Notre Dame work in some more snaps for some of the younger linebackers this week after the toll all the snaps have had for Tevon Coney and Drue Tranquill especially the last two weeks.  The Michigan game was an old fashioned slugfest and then last week the defense was ont he field for 97 snaps.

We saw Bo Bauer get on the field last week at linebacker and Shayne Simon saw time on special teams.  I think we’ll see both on the field some today even if the game never gets out of hand just to give the starters some rest after the last two weeks.  The injury to Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah will accelerate Simon’s path to playing time in the base defense behind Asmar Bilal.  On the flip, Jordan Genmark Heath is back to 100% and should be able to spell Tranquill at times.

How much of a leash will Brian Kelly give Brandon Wimbush vs Vanderbilt on Saturday before putting in Ian Book? @SeanMcDermott14

This is a great question because based on Brian Kelly’s past experience with pulling quarterbacks, I was shocked we did not see Ian Book take the field.  Kelly might have said all week he never contemplated pulling Wimbush but why then was Book warming up on the sidelines in the 4th quarter?

I think it’s clear that Kelly’s level of patience with Wimbush is directly related to the scoreboard.  If the Irish are up, it seems like Kelly will live with the mistakes longer.  If the Irish fall behind early to Vanderbilt though, I think we’ll see the same short leash from Kelly like we’ve seen in the past – see South Florida 2011, Stanford 2016, Citrus Bowl last year, etc.

Offensive line has been more of an issue then QB. Is it coaching, scheme, or guys just getting their feet wet? @Case0311

Jeff Quinn has coached offensive lines a long time and he has had lines that produced results under Brian Kelly at Cincinnati especially.  I don’t think he’s forgotten how to coach so I don’t think the problems are coaching related.  In fact, when Quinn was hired, very few questioned his chops as a coach but severely questioned his ability to recruit elite talent.

The problems along the line can be attributed a bit to a new group of linemen getting used to playing with each other.  Kraemer and Hainsey both played a lot last year, but Kraemer wasn’t playing guard as he is now.  Hainsey missing a lot of time this summer took away some time for this group to get some time playing together as well.

Watching the offensive line you can see they are not a confident bunch right now and that is leading to missed assignments.  Some of that should improve with more playing time as a unit, but most of that will also need to come in the film room where I am sure that Quinn did not have a pleasant time with his line this week.  You don’t get blown off the ball by Ball State just because you overlooked them.  That was part of it, but confidence was the other reason.  The line did not have confidence in themselves last week and it showed.

Why does ND have a running back (Wimbush) as a quarterback? @PatMattingly

That isn’t really fair to Brandon Wimbush who was asked last week to be someone that he is not.  He’s not a pocket passer which is fine.  Notre Dame can win a ton of football games and challenge for the playoffs utilizing Brandon Wimbush to his strengths.  They didn’t do that last week.  Last week they took away his greatest asset – his legs.

Tim Tebow wasn’t a great quarterback in the sense being a prototypical quarterback.  His accuracy showed in the NFL when he was brutally painful to watch throw a football.  Guess what though?  Those questions and those criticisms didn’t exist in high numbers when he was in college.  Urban Meyer developed an offense around Tebow’s strengths that made a guy who couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn in the NFL one of the greatest quarterbacks in college football history.  And the two of them won two rings together in the process.

Point being here that Brandon Wimbush is who he is and it’s time that Brian Kelly and Chip Long stop calling football games for who he isn’t.  If we don’t see some designed Wimbush runs very early in the game this week, it will be a travesty.  If they utilize Wimbush’s legs, so much of the offense will open back up.

Let’s also not forget that Wimbush is 10-3 right now in games that he has started and finished as Notre Dame’s quarterback (removing North Carolina and the Citrus Bowl) too.  That’s a pretty good record.