Photo by Rick Kimball/ISD
Notre Dame Football

BK Has Confidence In QBs, Wants To See Confidence From Them

March 7, 2017

Notre Dame wasn’t very good last year and Brian Kelly has placed a lot of the responsibility for that on his shoulders, but that doesn’t mean the head coach has any doubts about how the Irish are going to perform in 2017.

He’s hoping his new quarterback takes on some of that attitude.

“If he goes out and throws an interception, he doesn't have to hang his head,” Kelly said of Brandon Wimbush, who is set to take over at quarterback for Notre Dame this fall. “He does so many good things that he can have confidence that he's going to be successful, because what we're looking for is not perfection from these guys. It's excellence.

“I've been the person to stand in front of them and tell them, ‘Look, confidence is about having some failures along the way. I was the poster child for that last year. But I'm extremely confident in what we're going to do this year.’”

During Tuesday’s spring kickoff press conference, Kelly talked about how he’s going to be more focused on the traits he sees from his players – focus, attention to detail and grit – than on-field production this spring.

But he did acknowledge it’ll be slightly different for Wimbush, a redshirt sophomore signal-caller.

“You need those traits, but we also have to continue to drill down where we get to mental performance, too,” said Kelly. “Mental performance for him is building the confidence level, building his mental toughness, building all those things. Because he's got to understand that he gains confidence from a number of different areas; through his preparation, through his background, how he handles himself on a day-to-day basis.

“So him understanding that; that he's going to have some setbacks, but have the confidence in yourself to go. So we have to build that in him as well, and the other quarterbacks. They don't have a big resumé to fall back on.”

Kelly believes the leadership on his team is strong enough where Wimbush won’t have to be forced into that role.

“We're not asking him to come in here and lead the entire building,” the coach said, adding the Irish will probably have seven captains come fall. “So, he's well supported in that role.”

Still, the position does require what Kelly referred to as “an incredible spirit.”

“You've got to be able to handle so many other things that are outside of football,” the coach said. “What I'm asking him to do is probably more focused on him just taking care of himself. And we've got a lot of good leaders. I'm giving him some leadership opportunities, and I think he's doing quite well.”

Kelly will be looking for Wimbush to display the proper amount of confidence through his body language.

“Those are the areas that I'm spending more time on than him having to take control of the entire football program,” he said.

While Wimbush enters spring practice as the clear number one, Kelly also has confidence in his backup, redshirt freshman Ian Book, who he said will get 40 percent of the first-team reps.

“We offered him a full scholarship to Notre Dame, and I was part of the evaluation process,” Kelly said matter-of-factly. “I am a big Ian Book fan. I like the way the ball comes out of his hand. He's extremely smart.

“You talk about some of the traits of excellence, he's got them. He's got to continue to work on them. He's a good quarterback. He just needs some work. But he's got the tools to be a winning quarterback at Notre Dame.”

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