Notre Dame has been where a QBs career goes to die during the Brian Kelly tenure. During his time, Kelly has landed talented QBs and gotten a great first season out of them. Then everything falls apart once year two rolls around. Kelly has to find a way to figure the QB problem out in 2020.
Notre Dame’s QB Problem
Ian Book is returning in 2020 and Phil Jurkovec is off to Boston College. That leaves Brendon Clark and a true Freshman, Drew Pyne to back up Book in 2020. With Jurkovec gone, Ian Book has to find a way to not only get back to his year one performance, but surpass it and grow. He has to the tools, he just lacks what seems to happen to every Brian Kelly QB.
Kizer was probably the best QB Brian Kelly has had. His first season had Irish fans excited and it felt like Notre Dame had a true star at QB for the first time since Brady Quinn. That would all come crashing down. Year two would feature Kelly opening the Texas game rotating quarterbacks and it was a disaster. The loss against Texas was just a sign of what was to come.
As the 2016 season started to spiral out of control, Brian Kelly started heaping blame on his QB. He said Kizer was trying to do to much, forcing to many passes and to many mental mistakes. The mistakes piled up and Kizer’s confidence sank lower. Notre Dame limped to their worst season under Kelly and Kizer left early for the NFL.
However Kizer wasn’t the only one to suffer this fate.
Wimbush was an insane athlete with a big arm and plenty of praise coming out of high school. Year one for Wimbush was a solid 10 win season and plenty of promise. Once year two started and Wimbush played a strong first half against Michigan, things were looking up. The second half featured Notre Dame hanging on to escape with the win and Wimbush would be benched just a few weeks later.
This was yet another QB under Brian Kelly that failed to grow in year two. The QB coaches and the offensive coordinators change but one thing always remains the same, QB development is non-exsistent. That brings us around to today
Book was the guy in 2018 and helped guide Notre Dame to a perfect regular season. He took over for Wimbush and never looked back as he beat up on most of the opponents along the way. It wasn’t going to turn until the USC game at the end of the year.
Notre Dame would all but lock up a playoff spot with a win and it was in large part due to their new stud QB. Everyone thought things were going great, but Barton Simmons from the Cover 3 Podcast mentioned some underlying issues. He noted Book had a touch of Jake Browning, struggled with reads, let the ball float a bit too long and pressure rattled him. Most of it was easy to ignore until he disappeared against Clemson as all of those things came to light.
2019 featured more of the same as Book actually regressed in a few categories. His completition percentage, yards per attempt, QB rating and yards per game all dropped in 2019. He missed reads and failed to take deep shots despite open receivers. Once again, Notre Dame had a promising QB take a step back.
While I mentioned the three above, most should remember Dayne Crist, Golson and Zaire as well. QB development has been an issue as long as Kelly has been at Notre Dame. Not to mention Crist, Golson, Gunner Kiel, Wimbush and Zaire all transferred out and never finished their career at Notre Dame.
Everyone can point fingers and put blame on Chip Long or Ian Book, but one thing has been constant year after year, Coach Kelly. A QB going into year three under Brian Kelly is a bit of uncharted territory. Book is capable of developing and becoming the QB everyone thinks he can be. Tommy Rees is intelligent and has the experience of playing football at Notre Dame. However, if Brian Kelly can’t sort out the QB problem at Notre Dame, this team will be stuck in neutral.
Started Saturday Tailgate in 2018. Covering all things college football and talking Notre Dame on Twitter.