There has been plenty of talk of Brandon Wimbush’s physical skills, this space included. Taking off on a 58-yard touchdown run in your first action as a freshman will do that.
Leading the Notre Dame offense will require more than a strong arm, accurate passing and quick feet. The rising junior quarterback will need to both learn offensive coordinator Chip Long’s offense and also be able to convey its intricacies to his teammates. Wimbush will need to endure mistakes and enjoy successes with equal steadiness. He will need to handle criticism and deflect praise.
These abstract concepts are, obviously enough, often the most difficult for 20- and 21-year-olds to grasp. Per his coaches, Wimbush has not struggled like that.
“Where I’ve been most impressed with him is he listens very well,” Irish coach Brian Kelly said after days before the spring finale. “He’s a guy that will listen, make the appropriate adjustments and come back and go to work on what you have instructed him.
“The second thing is his presence. He runs that offense like he’s been running it for a few years. There’s no panic, there’s a calmness, there’s an organization to it.”
Perhaps claiming Wimbush leads the huddle in a new system like he has been doing it for years is a bit of a leap, a touch of exaggeration. But Long sees the qualities to make that embellishment a reality.
“The best thing about Brandon is he’s never too high or never too low,” Long said the day before the Blue-Gold Game. “That’s what you want with your quarterbacks. … He just needs to go out there and operate the offense. I don’t want to have any more added pressure on his shoulders.”
Wimbush managed 22-of-32 passing for 303 yards in the intrasquad scrimmage, yet the first-team offense generally struggled to finish drives or impose its will on a defense also learning a new scheme. To Kelly, that imperfect performance yielded encouragement on its own right.
“I loved everything that happened to him today,” Kelly said. “It’s how you take it, right? He’s just wide-eyed, listening, paying attention and just totally committed to the process of getting better.”
Not that there is any indication otherwise—aside from the natural tendencies of most 20- and 21-year-olds, that is—but Notre Dame fans should hope Wimbush is already deflecting those praises, lest they get to his head before the real action against Temple in 115 days.
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