Notre Dame quarterback Brandon Wimbush breaks down the team’s win over Notre Dame.
David Woods, [email protected]
Ugly numbers notwithstanding, coach Brian Kelly retains faith in the big uglies on Notre Dame’s offensive line.
“I’ve been in it long enough to know where the red panic button is. It’s not even near my desk,” he said Tuesday. “But there’s work to be done.”
Offensive line was supposed to be a strength of this team, and it may yet become that. Statistics don’t reflect well on the line heading into Saturday’s home game against Vanderbilt (2-0).
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The eighth-ranked Fighting Irish (2-0) are 106th out of 130 teams in sack yards allowed (43), 120th in rushing yards per attempt (2.83) and 106th in rushing yards per game (124.5).
Even after losing two top-10 draft picks to the NFL, the Irish retain pro prospects in guard Alex Bars and center Sam Mustipher. Jeff Quinn is in his 34th year of college coaching and fourth at Notre Dame, but this is his first year in charge of the Irish’s offensive line.
It is a line in transition. The whole has not quite added up to the sum of the parts. It is never about one player, Kelly said. He suggested the group has been impaired by indecision.
“We need to get off the ball, hit some people in the nose, and let’s get rolling,” Kelly said. “This week we’re getting off the ball, be much more physical.”
Quarterback Brandon Wimbush was Notre Dame’s top rusher in an opening 24-17 win over Michigan, gaining 59 yards after an 803-yard season in 2017. In last week’s 24-16 win over Ball State, excluding two sacks and two carries to run out the clock, he rushed just five times for 8 yards.
Kelly said that was not by design.
“I wouldn’t buy much into the notion that he’s going to stop running, and we’re just going to be throwing the football,” Kelly said. “What we really need to do is continue to work towards what his strengths are.”
He said the Irish must prepare better for Vanderbilt than they did for Ball State, and that applies especially to the offensive line.
“You can’t be standing around on game day waiting for things to happen. You have to flip the switch into competitive mode and play, trust your teaching, trust what happened in practice, then react,” Kelly said. “That’s why the preparation was not what it needed to be, because our guys were standing around. I take full responsibility for that.”
Irish pick up QB/receiver
Kendall Abdur-Rahman of Edwardsville, Ill., posted on Twitter that he picked Notre Dame, becoming the 18th commitment in the 2019 class. Abdur-Rahman, 6-1, 180 pounds, plays quarterback in high school but was recruited as a wide receiver. He had offers from multiple Big Ten schools, including Illinois, Indiana and Purdue.
On Aug. 31, in a 58-45 loss to St. Louis Christian Brothers, the No. 1 team in Missouri, he rushed 19 times for 238 yards and four touchdowns and passed for 84 yards and two TDs. As a junior, Abdur-Rahman ran for 1,399 yards and 26 touchdowns.
TE Cole Kmet is “doubtful” for Vanderbilt because of a high ankle sprain, Kelly said. . . . The Irish have won seven consecutive home games . . . Kickoff for Notre Dame’s Sept. 22 game at Wake Forest has been set for noon on ABC. . . . Wake Forest’s home game against Boston College has been moved up to 5:30 p.m. Thursday because of Hurricane Florence. . . . David Williams, who has been Vanderbilt’s athletic director since 2003, announced Tuesday that he is resigning as AD and vice chancellor.
Contact IndyStar reporter David Woods at [email protected] or 317-444-6195. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidWoods007.