Notre Dame

Notre Dame switches quarterbacks, implodes in loss to Stanford

Notre Dame switches quarterbacks, implodes in loss to Stanford

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — How desperate are things at Notre Dame?

Apparently to the point that coach Brian Kelly pulled DeShone Kizer for Malik Zaire in the second half of Notre Dame’s implosion of a 17-10 loss to Stanford Saturday night. The Irish are 2-5 and enter the bye week with uncertainty at the one position that hasn’t had it since the second half of Week 1.

Kizer, to be fair, was ineffective through the air when he was pulled from the game with 7:26 remaining in the third quarter. Notre Dame held a 10-7 lead at that point. Kizer exited the game having completed seven of 16 passes for 99 yards with those two interceptions, and rushed eight times for 79 yards with a touchdown.

And while everything that happened after he entered the game wasn’t his fault, Zaire oversaw two three-and-out possessions while Stanford pushed back to take the lead.

Notre Dame jumped out to what looked to be a comfortable early lead with Stanford’s offense sputtering. A 32-yard rush by Kizer — the first run of 30 or more yards allowed by Stanford’s defense this season — and a 16-yard ground gain by Folston set up Kizer’s eight-yard touchdown run.

Torii Hunter Jr.’s 33-yard reception on third down set up a Justin Yoon 29-yard field goal that put Notre Dame up 10-0. And while Notre Dame’s offense slowed toward the end of the half, Cole Luke’s interception of Stanford quarterback Ryan Burns capped an impressive defensive showing in the first 30 minutes.

Then the self-inflicted mistakes started happening.

On Notre Dame’s first drive of the second half, Kizer, trying to find Equanimeous St. Brown, was picked off by Stanford cornerback Quenton Meeks, who returned it 50 yards for a touchdown.

An under-pressure Kizer was intercepted on Notre Dame’s ensuing possession, a throw that got him yanked from the game. Jarron Jones’ titanic sack, strip and fumble recovery gave the ball back to Notre Dame and gave way to Zaire midway through the third quarter.

A first down holding penalty on Quenton Nelson immediately put Zaire in a tough spot, and in his first series the Irish went three-and-out.

Things went from bad to worse on Notre Dame’s next offensive series, which began at the four-yard line, when center Sam Mustipher snapped the ball over Zaire’s head and out of the end zone for a safety, which pulled Stanford within one.

The Cardinal offense then broke through against Notre Dame’s defense, marching 67 yards on 11 plays into the end zone to take their first lead of the game. Stanford converted its two-point try to take a seven-point lead.

The second of Zaire’s three-and-outs came on the next possession, and Stanford was able to sit on the ball for a little over four minutes. Notre Dame’s offense with Zaire in the game ran six plays for minus-four yards.

Kizer re-entered the game with 3:44 remaining and Notre Dame down seven, and quickly moved the Irish inside the Stanford 40. A screen to Chase Claypool moved Notre Dame to the Stanford 25. A six-yard completion to Kevin Stepherson then set up a fourth-and-two try from the Stanford 17 with 41 seconds remaining.

Josh Adams plunged three yards for a first down, then Kizer found Equanimeous St. Brown for a six-yard completion. But Kizer was sacked on second down, had to spike it on third down and was stopped on fourth down.

At 2-5, making a bowl game no longer is the primary objective for Notre Dame. It’s avoiding a season on the level of 2007 in terms of being a complete, unmitigated disaster.

And even a Christian McCaffrey-less Stanford side couldn’t slow Notre Dame’s descent into the dark depths of college football.

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.