Notre Dame Spring Football Game: 5 Things That Matter
What do you need to know about what happened in the Notre Dame spring football game?
1. Brandon Wimbush vs. DeShone Kizer
Kizer’s self-proclaimed discussion about hoping he can be a cross between Tom Brady and Cam Newton took up all the headlines around Notre Dame leading up to the NFL Draft, but it would’ve been nice if he was still under center for the Fighting Irish.
Wimbush is the almost-certain starter now with Kizer gone, and he’ll add a little more pop to the running game. While the quarterbacks weren’t getting hit in the spring game, Wimbush still looked and played like he wouldn’t have had a problem on the move, showing off his running back quickness in the open field while having a few nice moments throwing the ball.
But he’s not going to throw like Kizer.
Wimbush knows what he’s doing, though, after years in the system. But he also looks like he needs a lot more passing reps – he threw two picks, one not his fault at all – before he’s ready for primetime.
2. And The Chip Long Offense?
Notre Dame might have a new offensive coordinator, but don’t expect anything wild and crazy this season. There was plenty of downfield passing in the spring game, and the offense will utilize Wimbush’s mobility and rushing skills, but the more he’s making things happen in the pocket – in this offense – the better.
Like all coordinators – especially the new ones at a different gig – Long wants the offense to be faster-paced. While it’s not going to be at warp speed, it’ll have a decent tempo.
The O didn’t fly on Saturday, but it managed to keep things moving. It needs sharper execution overall under Wimbush, but it’s not going to bog down as much as it did last year.
It’ll help because …
3. The Receivers Are HUGE
Brian Kelly has been recruiting to a type when it comes to his wideouts. Forget about the smallish-quick jitterbug types who make things happen on the move. Notre Dame has an NBA-sized group of small forwards in the receiving corps.
Getting back TE Alize Jones from a year of academic issues adds another big weapon into the mix, but from the 6-5 Equanimeous St. Brown, to the 6-5 Chase Claypool, to the 6-4 Myles Boykin, this is a massive group who’ll outphysical most secondaries.
With that said …
4. The Irish Offense Might Just Be Deeper
It was the 5-8, 185-pound junior receiver, C.J. Sanders who came up with one of the bigger plays of the day, catching a perfectly-thrown ball from Ian Book for a long touchdown.
There’s no question whatsoever that Wimbush is the starter, but considering Kelly has never been shy about mixing up his quarterbacks to find the right matchup and play to the hot hand, the solid passing day from Book might have earned him the No. 2 spot.
At the very least, he was the sharpest passer in the game. Of course, the quarterbacks weren’t getting hit. And that matters because …
5. The Defense Was At Least In Good Positions
There were a few missed plays by the D on some deep balls, but in general, new defensive coordinator Mike Elko’s group looked fine, even in the questionable secondary.
Yeah, the quarterbacks looked strong at times, but the D line got into the backfield early and often, especially in the first half. Had they been able to go full out, it would’ve been a different scrimmage.
In several instances, the DBs could’ve flattened the targets and blown up plays, but obviously that wasn’t going to happen.
Yes, the highlights looked good for the offense, and yes, the running backs made their way into the clear for a few big scoring plays, but in general, spring practices – for defenses – is about the positioning. If you can’t pop, you can’t do what you do on D.