Notre Dame

For Notre Dame players, who starts at QB doesn't matter

For Notre Dame players, who starts at QB doesn't matter

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Brian Kelly said last week Notre Dame’s offensive identity won’t be dependent on who its starting quarterback is, so the seventh-year Irish coach and his assistants won’t feel rushed into making a decision between Malik Zaire and DeShone Kizer. 

After Notre Dame wrapped up spring practice in mid-April, Kelly said a time would come during August when he’d have to make a call on the quarterbacks so the Irish offense could develop an identity with one of them heading into the season. But those concerns were apparently alleviated over the summer, with the only deadline existing for a call on the quarterback being 6:30 p.m. CST Sept. 4 in Austin, Texas. 

While the betting markets favor Kizer there hasn’t been any official indication from Notre Dame as to who will take the first snap of the season at Darrell K. Royal Stadium against the Texas Longhorns. But to Notre Dame’s offensive leaders, who that player is doesn’t really matter. 

“We don’t really care that much,” redshirt junior wide receiver Torii Hunter Jr. said. “We just want the ball thrown to us and whoever can get it to us, they should be playing, as it would be for any other position — whoever can get the job done, they need to be on the field. And that’s how we look at it in the wide receiver room, anywhere on the team.”

There’s a certain level of trust players have in both Kizer and Zaire based on their respective starts for the Irish. Zaire efficiently commanded Notre Dame’s offense to wins over LSU in the 2014 Music City Bowl and over Texas in the 2015 season opener, while Kizer’s heroics against Virginia and Temple and his steady presence at quarterback propelled Notre Dame to a 10-3 season last fall. It’s worth noting Kelly said last week Kizer’s experience (11 starts) doesn’t necessarily give him an advantage over Zaire (three starts) in the competition. 

“No matter who’s back there, we’re going to be in good hands,” redshirt junior left tackle Mike McGlinchey said. “They’re such tremendous football players and such tremendous kids that it’s going to be an easy run whoever’s back there. It hasn’t been an issue for us. We’re all ready to play and they are too. Whoever comes down with that job is whoever coaches pick.”

The identity question is even less of a worry for Irish players than who quarterbacks the offense. With McGlinchey and Quenton Nelson manning left tackle and left guard, and record-setting sophomore Josh Adams returning with redshirt junior Tarean Folston at running back, Notre Dame’s offense will probably rely heavily on its ground attack (the lack of many experienced wide receivers, as well as Kizer and Zaire’s respective abilities to run the read option, contribute to that as well). 

So the most frequent topic of discussion about Notre Dame football isn’t really a topic of discussion at Culver Academies or inside the locker room at the Guglielmino Athletics Complex. After seeing what Zaire and Kizer can do over the last 20 months, Notre Dame players are confident either can get the job done when the snaps start counting on the first Sunday of September in Texas. 

“I think, personally, I don’t (care) at all and I think collectively that’s how most people feel,” redshirt junior tight end Durham Smythe said. “Obviously Malik showed at the beginning of the year and these last two springs that he has the ability to get it done, and DeShone absolutely destroyed it last year when he had his opportunity. I think these are two quarterbacks that could start anywhere in the country. I think it’s a blessing that we have both of them. Because of the talent between the both of them, it (the offense) runs regardless.” 

Notre Dame will allow students back on campus for 2020 fall semester

Notre Dame will allow students back on campus for 2020 fall semester

Notre Dame University announced on Monday that it will welcome students back on campus on August 10. That’s two weeks earlier than the fall semester was initially scheduled to begin. In addition, Notre Dame will forgo a fall break in October, and will instead end the semester before Thanksgiving.

In the announcement Notre Dame said they consulted with experts for months to develop their plan to welcome students back onto campus.

The plan to return includes comprehensive COVID-19 testing for students, faculty and staff. It also includes contact tracing, quarantine and isolation protocols, social distancing and mask requirements, and enhanced cleaning of all campus spaces.

“By far the most complex challenge before us is the return of our students to campus for the resumption of classes in the fall semester,” Notre Dame’s president Rev. John I. Jenkins wrote in a letter to students. “Bringing our students back is in effect assembling a small city of people from many parts of the nation and the world, who may bring with them pathogens to which they have been exposed. We recognize the challenge, but we believe it is one we can meet.”

Father Jenkins also wrote that the university is currently developing a plan to reopen research labs, studios and libraries in coming weeks.

In case of an outbreak, or if the university is unable to provide adequate testing, Notre Dame faculty have been asked to prepare both in-person and remote curricula for their classes. The remote curricula would also help any student keep up with classwork if they need to be quarantined.

The university is also developing criteria to determine whether or not to offer study abroad programs in the fall. That decision will be announced in June.

Notre Dame sent home all students in mid-March to complete their spring semesters remotely. They also canceled all summer classes, except for a small number of students who needed to complete summer work to prepare for the fall semester.

Is Brian Kelly out at Notre Dame if new QB Brandon Wimbush’s rocket arm doesn’t deliver for Irish in 2017?

Is Brian Kelly out at Notre Dame if new QB Brandon Wimbush’s rocket arm doesn’t deliver for Irish in 2017?

A 4-8 season in 2016 has put Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly firmly on the hot seat as he heads into his eighth season with the Fighting Irish.

In response to a tumultuous season, Kelly made major changes to his staff this past offseason by hiring new coordinators on both sides of the ball.

Mike Elko, who previously led Wake Forest to an FBS Top-40 total defense ranking, was hired by Kelly to be Notre Dame's defensive coordinator, and Chip Long — former offensive coordinator at Memphis — will now be in charge of the Fighting Irish offense.

However, the biggest change and arguably the No. 1 factor in Kelly's long-term future in South Bend, will be the person under center in 2017.

Barring an unforeseen circumstance, junior quarterback Brandon Wimbush — a former Rivals four-star recruit — will lead Notre Dame out of the tunnel in Week 1 vs. Temple.

Wimbush has only thrown five passes during his time at Notre Dame, but showed what kind of talent he has with a 58-yard rushing touchdown as a freshman in 2015.

Wimbush was one of the focal points of a recent Rivals story regarding quarterbacks who will be facing pressure in 2017

Earlier this week, Rivals Recruiting Director Mike Farrell gave his scouting report on the Notre Dame quarterback.

I’m a big fan of Wimbush but that hasn’t always been the case. It’s not that I didn’t like him when I first scouted him before his high school career took off, but what I saw way back when was a kid who had a rocket arm and zero touch. But throughout his high school career he improved every time I saw him, showed much more than just a strong arm and flashed impressive poise for his age.

I’ve seen very limited action when it comes to Wimbush in college as he hasn’t played often and his spring game performance had ups and downs, but I believe in this kid’s ability. He can extend the play, has that great arm and just needs to get comfortable in the Notre Dame offense and make sure he doesn’t try to use that cannon to fit the ball into tight spots. I can see him having some growing pains this season, but as he gets more comfortable and learns to take what the defense gives him while keeping defenses off balance with his athletic ability, I think he’ll finish strong.

Will Wimbush's rocket arm be enough to save Kelly from the hot seat?

That's still to be determined.