Photo by Rick Kimball/ISD
Notre Dame Football

Difficult Changes At Quarterback Proved Fruitful For Tigers, Irish

December 24, 2018

Written by Alex Dodd - The Clemson Insider 

Difficult changes at quarterback proved fruitful for Tigers, Irish

ARLINGTON, Texas—Second-ranked Clemson arrived at AT&T Stadium Monday in advance of its Cotton Bowl Classic matchup with No. 3 Notre Dame. It is the fourth straight year the Tigers are participating in the College Football Playoff and the first appearance for the Irish.

Both teams enter the game undefeated but the similarities in Clemson and Notre Dame’s seasons run deeper than that. A few games into the season both teams made a difficult decision to replace the quarterbacks that started the season for them, without a loss.

Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly touched on the point while speaking to the media at AT&T Stadium before the Irish’s first practice on site at the Cotton Bowl. The decision was not an easy one but proved fruitful for his team.

“It was a matter of looking at it from much more of an overall perspective of how it would affect our entire team, not just offense,” Kelly said. “Because Brandon (Wimbush), won a lot of games as a starter.”

Junior Ian Book took over as the starter for Brendan Clark in week three at Wake Forest and finished the season completing 70.4% of his passes for 19 touchdowns while rushing for 250 yards and four additional scores.

He took the Notre Dame offense to a new level and his pass efficiency numbers proved some of the best in the nation.

Clemson replaced Senior Kelly Bryant following a week four win at Georgia Tech for much of the same reason. Since the decision to start freshman Trevor Lawrence the Tigers continued winning but began dominating opponents.

Head coach Dabo Swinney discussed the decision on an ESPN special with Tom Rinaldi that aired on Monday morning.

“I made the decision on the bus ride back from Georgia Tech, didn’t talk to anybody about it but I made the decision,” Swinney said. “He (Lawrence) earned the job, he (Bryant) had outplayed him it’s a simple as that.”

Lawrence has passed for 2,606 yards and 24 touchdowns and the Tigers have averaged 47.4 points per game since week five. He took the Clemson offense to the next level and it enters the Cotton Bowl Classic clicking on all cylinders.

Both teams made the right decision and are reaping the benefits playing at the highest level with an opportunity to make the trip to Santa Clara for the College Football Playoff National Championship Game.

Now all that is left to be settled is the game itself on Saturday at 4 p.m. EST on ESPN.

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