Irish defense talks refocused effort leading up to Miami
Daniel O'Boyle | Thursday, November 9, 2017
No. 3 Notre Dame players discussed the progression of junior quarterback Brandon Wimbush and the defense’s attempts to rebound after giving up 37 points and 587 yards on Saturday to Wake Forest during players’ availability Wednesday.
Although junior running back Josh Adams came into the game against Wake Forest as a Heisman Trophy candidate, he had only five carries in the game for 22 yards, getting pulled from the game in the first quarter and never returning, although the Irish still managed to rush for 380 yards. After the game, Irish head coach Brian Kelly said Adams did not show concussion symptoms, but was dealing with tiredness after a busy week. Adams clarified his situation further, explaining that he had been suffering from headaches before the game and in the first half.
“So I was getting like headaches before the game the day before, and I don’t know, just football, hitting the other guy kind of disrupted me a little bit,” Adams said. “The headaches cleared up going into halftime. I think at that moment we were already up by a fair margin. So I guess they just thought it was safer just to play it safe rather than continuing to play football, I guess. But I was just, I don’t know, it was a rough week for me as far as papers and getting enough sleep and really taking care of my body. So I think a lot of that had an impact on the game as well.
“But it was a great learning moment for me moving forward, learning how to correctly take care of myself and getting enough sleep and continuing to do the things that got me here like going to treatment, taking care of my body, stuff like that. So that was nothing but just minor headaches.”
With Adams out, Wimbush stepped up to lead the Irish to victory, passing for 280 yards and a score and rushing for 110 yards and two touchdowns. Graduate student offensive tackle and captain Mike McGlinchey said Wimbush has come on leaps and bounds since the beginning of the season.
“I think he’s done a great job of just getting better each and every day,” McGlinchey said. “Brandon, obviously, isn’t a complete football player yet. None of us are. And we just have to keep working. That’s part of the great thing about this game of football is that there’s always something to work on. And he takes that with a lot of pride and a lot of intent.
“And each and every day, he’s working to get better for our football team. And I think it showed on Saturday. He’s just gotten better each and every week, and our team is certainly benefiting from it. I think he knows that the quarterback is as important to a football team as any position in sports. And he’s a mature guy. He knows the responsibilities that come with that. He knows that our team looks to him for that stuff. And he’s done a great job with it. He’s a great leader. He’s a great teammate. And you can’t really say anything else other than that for Brandon and what he’s doing now and what he’s going to continue to become.”
Adams said he was extremely impressed by Wimbush’s performance and finds him an enjoyable player to have on his team.
“He’s kind of grown into the player that he wants to be,” Adams said. “It’s nothing new. He always makes plays for us. It’s just exciting to see him go out there and kind of do his thing. He broke a long one in the game last Saturday. I mean, that was just amazing just to show you the type of things he can do on his feet. He had an exciting game throwing the ball.
“He’s overall just a great player for us to have. I mean, we enjoy having him there at quarterback, and we have a lot of fun playing with him. You just never know what he’s going to do and he does whatever he can to help the team out, just like every guy on the offense.”
The previously-dominant Irish defense gave up a season-high in both points and yards to Wake Forest last week, as the team recorded its lowest winning margin of the season. Senior linebacker Drue Tranquill said the entire defense was determined to make up for the blip with another dominating performance when they face No. 7 Miami on Saturday.
“I think when you just talk about greatness in general, consistency is the hardest thing, week in, week out,” Tranquill said. “That’s what makes champions champions, though, and that’s what we’re striving to be. So it’s just getting back to what we’ve been doing and preaching a message of consistency. And week nine, week ten it gets difficult to do that, especially when you’ve been going since January. Refocusing whether it’s old guys, new guys and refocusing on cohesiveness.
“I think we’re just getting back to our process, getting back to our traits. And the way we prepared last week wasn’t the best week of preparation. And we’re kind of getting back to basics this week in terms of how we’ve gone about preparing the first eight weeks of the season and getting back to that.”
Senior linebacker Nyles Morgan said that the team was motivated, but the mindset of dominating opponents was something that should be expected every week for the Irish defense.
“It’s never about being just better than we were the last time,” Morgan said. “It’s about being the best we can. So I feel like every game, good or bad, indifferent, we always turn on the corrections and figure out how to make it better on D-line, linebackers to safeties.”
The Irish will face Miami at 8 p.m. on Saturday at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.