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Notre Dame Notes: Irish QB controversy brewing?

Notre Dame quarterback Brandon Wimbush looks to pass during the first half of a game against Miami Saturday in Miami Gardens, Fla. (By The Associated Press)

There were a number of areas of concern for the Notre Dame football program in wake of its 41-8 thrashing by Miami (Fla.) Saturday in Miami.

The third-ranked Fighting Irish (8-2) were beaten soundly on both sides of the ball by the seventh-ranked Hurricanes (9-0). Veteran Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly spoke on a number of issues following the lopsided defeat and here are some of the topics he touched upon.

QUARTERBACK CONTROVERSY?

Early in the second quarter, Notre Dame starting quarterback Brandon Wimbush was struggling mightily and his team was on the verge of being blown out (which eventually happened).

The redshirt sophomore completed two of his first three passes, but after that, tossed seven incomplete passes and had a couple of those picked off by the Miami defense, so Kelly switched to back-up Ian Book.

“We needed a spark,” Kelly said of the change. “We tried to insert Ian after the turnovers (by Wimbush).”

Book didn’t do much better. He did complete 3 of 6 passes and showed the ability to extend plays while under heavy duress, but he also threw a terrible interception that was returned for a touchdown.

Kelly switched back to Wimbush, who continued to struggle with his play. He didn’t throw another interception, but he did fumble the ball away and ultimately was sacked five times.

For the game, Wimbush completed just 10 of 21 passes for 119 yards.

“I felt at halftime,” Kelly said, “that our best chance at really rallying and trying to get Brandon to play through it, if you will, was, I felt, the best course of action.”

PIVOTAL MOMENT

Despite the disappointment of the loss, Kelly still has confidence in this team to carry on with its turnaround season following last year’s 4-8 record.

The Irish have two games remaining (vs. Navy in South Bend and at Stanford), as well as a bowl game.

“We have to coach better,” Kelly said, “and we have to play better each week against Navy. There is not really that we can take back right now other than our players are very disappointed, but they understand that the most important thing is this won’t define who they are as individuals or as a team. They’ll bounce back and play well next week.”

Interestingly, the coach pointed to a rival for guidance for his players.

Last month, Notre Dame trounced USC in South Bend, but the Trojans haven’t lost a game since, and Kelly pointed that out to his players.

“It’s really about how we respond now,” Kelly said. “Individually, collectively, as a group, after a disappointing performance, the challenge, really, is about bouncing back.”

“I gave them the example of USC and the way we handled them and now they’ve come back and won all of their games since then.”

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ADAMS IS FINE

Notre Dame starting runner Josh Adams was limited to 16 carries and gained just 40 yards. Early in the second half, he landed awkwardly while being tackled and spent over 10 minutes in the “concussion” tent being looked at by the Irish medical staff. He didn’t enter the game again, but Kelly said that there wasn’t anything significantly wrong with Adams.

“He had a bit of a sprain in the neck,” Kelly said. “He was cleared to go back in. There was nothing relative to a head injury. But it didn’t seem like we needed to put him back into the game at that point.”

TURNOVERS ARE CRITICAL

Both teams had entered the game having been very good at generating turnovers. However, Miami was the squad that took advantage of such.

The Hurricanes had entered 13 passes prior Saturday’s game and added three more, plus a fumble to their season total.

“We put our defense in a bad situation,” Kelly said. “The game, really, 24 points off of turnovers. It’s hard to get an accurate picture of (the defense).”

“The make-up of this football team (Miami) is built on turnovers. One thing that we couldn’t do is turn the football over. What did we do? We turned the football over.”

For more on college football, follow Tom Davis on Twitter at Tom101010 and on Facebook at Thomas Davis.

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