Last week, Michigan named Shea Patterson as its starting quarterback for the opener. Tuesday, U-M’s season-opening opponent made a similar positional pronouncement.
As expected, Brian Kelly confirmed that Brandon Wimbush will start under center for No. 12 Notre Dame’s opener against No. 14 Michigan in South Bend Saturday night. No. 2 quarterback Ian Book played well in spring practice and on into summer camp — and that was coming off an exceptional performance in the Citrus Bowl win over LSU — leading some to posit the junior had either closed the gap on the incumbent or, perhaps, overtaken him.
Kelly reiterated Tuesday that the latter wasn’t the case, although it remains to be seen how long of a leash the head coach will give Wimbush.
“Brandon’s our starter,” Kelly said. “We’re going to go into the game that he needs to win the game for us.”
Wimbush started all but one game for the Fighting Irish last season, throwing for 1,870 yards, 16 touchdowns and six interceptions. One of the biggest knocks on Wimbush is his accuracy, as evidenced by his 49.5-percent completion percentage on 275 attempts last season.
The only game Wimbush didn’t start last season, Book did. In the 33-10 win over North Carolina last October, Book completed 17-of-31 passes for 146 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. Book also replaced Wimbush in the bowl game, connecting on 14 of his 19 pass attempts for 164 yards and a pair of touchdowns. The last of those scores was a 55-yard touchdown pass with less than two minutes left in the fourth quarter that proved to be the difference in the Irish’s 21-17 win over the Tigers.