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SportNotre Dame football: Brian Kelly’s curious lack of QB development

07:35  22 july  2019
07:35  22 july  2019 Source:   fightingirishwire.usatoday.com

The last time Notre Dame won the national championship…

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The 2018 Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team represented the University of Notre Dame in the 2018 NCAA Division I FBS football season.

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Notre Dame football: Brian Kelly’s curious lack of QB development© USA TODAY USA TODAY It's pretty obvious to say that Notre Dame's success in 2019 will be heavily tied to Ian Book's performance at quarterback.

That reality doesn't seem too concerning. Book had a great 2018 and finished the year near the top of the NCAA in completion percentage.

But recent history suggests Book could be in for a rough second year as a starter.

Under Brian Kelly, starting quarterbacks have seen a dip in production in their second season under center compared to their first. It happened with Everett Golson, it happened with DeShone Kizer and it happened with Brandon Wimbush just last year.

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25, 2016: Kelly blames Notre Dame ’ s heart after Duke loss. Notre Dame lost at home to a team that had Kelly has repeatedly shirked that responsibility. He repeatedly criticizes his players in public Notre Dame has been good at football for most of his tenure. Ty Willingham and Charlie Weis led

Consummate program builder Brian Kelly must now rebuild his own football program to fix Notre Dame and save his job. He says he' s committed to After last year' s 4–8 mark, Notre Dame ' s Brian Kelly is committed to changing everything from the coaching staff to the strength training to—most of

Irish fans have to hope it won't happen to Ian Book.

The trend started in 2014 with stalwart Tommy Rees gone and Everett Golson entering his senior season of eligibility. In 2012, the sophomore had led Notre Dame to an undefeated regular season and secured a berth in the BCS Championship game. Golson was suspended for the 2013 season due to academic issues and in 2014, something changed.

The stats for most of the season were fine. Golson improved his completion percentage by about one point and he threw 29 touchdowns to 14 interceptions. But as Notre Dame's season began to go down the drain after the heartbreaking loss to Florida State, Golson's season went down with it. In a 55-31 loss to Arizona State, Golson threw four interceptions. In Notre Dame's 43-40 loss to Northwestern at home, Golson went just 21-40. Against USC in Notre Dame's final game of the season, Golson was replaced by Malik Zaire at the end of the first half after going 7-18 with an interception, as Notre Dame was demolished 49-14. Golson transferred before the 2016 season after it became clear Zaire would win the job.

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When Brian Kelly met with the media on Thursday, he did not do much to clear up the situation either leaving Stepherson one of the biggest enigmas on the While that is all encouraging, it also doesn’t get Stepherson on the field tomorrow or next Saturday when Notre Dame could use Stepherson’ s

This afternnoon, Brian Kelly made things official regarding the status of starting quarterback Ian Book heading CHAPEL HILL, NC - OCTOBER 07: Ian Book #12 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish rolls out against He has played stellar football this season, completing 77-of-105 passes for 887 yards, nine

Notre Dame football: Brian Kelly’s curious lack of QB development© USA TODAY USA TODAY

In 2015, Zaire went down with an ankle injury in the second game of the year and DeShone Kizer stepped up to lead Notre Dame to a New Year's Six bowl. But 2016 would see Kizer's Irish career go bottom up. Kelly declined to name a starter before the season and played both Kizer and Zaire versus Texas, potentially messing up the team's chemistry as well as Kizer's confidence.

As Notre Dame dropped games to Duke, Michigan State and North Carolina State, Kelly threw Kizer under the bus, saying the quarterback was trying to do too much. Kelly would continue to make seemingly negative comments about Kizer when the quarterback (unsurprisingly) decided to leave for the NFL.

From 2015 to 2016, Kizer's completion percentage dropped about four points and his yards per attempt average decreased slightly as well. The number of interceptions wasn't a problem, but each pick seemed to come at a critical juncture in the game. Kizer was forcing balls into windows that simply weren't there. For a quarterback who picked up eight wins in his first season as a starter, Kizer's second year was an unambiguous disappointment.

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The 2015 Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team represented the University of Notre Dame in the 2015 NCAA Division I FBS football season. The team was coached by Brian Kelly and played its home games at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, Indiana. They competed as an independent.

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Notre Dame football: Brian Kelly’s curious lack of QB development© File Photo File photo

Brandon Wimbush's struggles as a starter were also well-documented in 2017. Wimbush had the arm-strength and the mobility, but with a 48% completion percentage, he couldn't find a way to make Chip Long's offense work to its fullest potential. But hopes for Wimbush were again high coming into 2018. Another offseason of development should have helped Wimbush get more comfortable finding his receivers, but again, a second-year starter under Kelly failed to improve. Wimbush played well the first game of the season against Michigan, but extremely inaccurate performances versus Ball State and Vanderbilt led to Ian Book taking over the starting job midway through the year.

In each case you could make excuses. Golson was suspended for a season, the whole team sucked in 2016 for Kizer and maybe Wimbush wasn't that accurate to begin with. But when you look at the evidence as a whole, the picture is pretty bleak for quarterbacks in their second year as starter in the Brian Kelly era.

Notre Dame football: Brian Kelly’s curious lack of QB development© USA TODAY USA TODAY

This isn't to say Kelly can't coach quarterbacks, because he can. Tommy Rees' career is a testament to that, and Golson, Kizer and Wimbush all had good first years under center.

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Notre Dame went 8–4 in the regular season with a bowl loss. Andrew Hendrix and Everett Golson competed with Rees for the starting QB position in Rees was suspended by head coach Brian Kelly for the first game of the 2012 season after the junior quarterback was arrested and charged with

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But there clearly is some kind of disconnect Kelly faces when he tries to build on a good first year. Even if he isn't objectively harming their confidence - like he did with Kizer - he isn't putting them in position to succeed.

So will Book fall victim to the same troubles as Golson, Kizer and Wimbush?

That remains to be seen, but Irish fans should take some solace in the fact that Chip Long and Tommy Rees appear to know what they're doing. The fact that Book pushed Wimbush at all is a testament to those two coaches and the fact that Book is the unquestioned starter entering 2019 also should help, but then again, no one was calling for Wimbush's job at this point last year.

Look for Book's touch on deep passes as an early sign of improvement. If Book still looks lost on those plays - or if the Irish aren't running any - that could be a sign the trend will continue.

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