Big Ten notes: Wimbush gets the call against Michigan
Brandon Wimbush won’t need to look over his shoulder Saturday night when No. 12 Notre Dame hosts No. 14 Michigan in the season opener for both teams.
Coach Brian Kelly reiterated the senior is his No. 1 quarterback.
“Brandon’s our starter,” Kelly said Tuesday. “He needs to win the game for us.”
Last season, Wimbush started 12 games during Notre Dame’s 10-3 campaign and finished with 803 yards and 14 rushing touchdowns and another 1,870 yards and 16 TDs through the air despite a 49 percent completion rate.
Wimbush missed the 33-10 victory at North Carolina last Oct. 7 with a foot sprain, with Ian Book getting the start. Book relieved Wimbush in November road losses against Miami and Stanford and in a 21-17 victory over Louisiana State at the Citrus Bowl. Book completed 14 of 19 passes for 164 yards and two touchdowns, including the winning 55-yard TD with 1:28 remaining to beat the Tigers.
The two quarterbacks battled in the spring and Book, a junior, has looked particularly sharp throwing the ball. Kelly had indicated he might use both quarterbacks at times.
“Sometimes I’m not the clearest,” Kelly said Tuesday. “We’ll put a game plan together for Brandon Wimbush to win the game for us. If there’s any need, we feel great about Ian Book as our No. 2.”
Coach Kirk Ferentz will go for his record-breaking 144th win at Iowa this weekend.
To get it, he will have to rely on a bunch of players making their first significant appearances for the Hawkeyes.
Ferentz’s quest to pass Hayden Fry as the program’s winningest coach might not be all that easy, either. In addition to the usual concerns about depth-chart turnover ahead of Saturday’s opener against Northern Illinois, Iowa will be without three starters – most notably tackles Tristan Wirfs and Alaric Jackson – because of one-game suspensions.
“We knew a while back that we were going to have this dilemma, so I think we’ve been working … to try and get (the backups) reps and get everybody on the same page,” center Keegan Render said.
In Wirfs and Jackson, Iowa appears to have a pair of prospects set to continue Ferentz’s tradition of producing NFL starters at offensive tackle. Nobody seems to know what to expect out of their one-week replacements, Dalton Ferguson and Mark Kallenberger.
Fatality looms in Maryland
Matt Canada is plenty busy, and he has been for days.
As interim coach of the Maryland football team, Canada is not just putting in a game plan for Saturday’s opener against No. 23 Texas. He is also fulfilling his duties as offensive coordinator and, most importantly, making sure the players stay focused during a season dedicated to fallen teammate Jordan McNair — a season that will start with head coach DJ Durkin on leave and the subject of an investigation.
McNair, a sophomore offensive lineman, died on June 13, two weeks after collapsing during a team workout. Since that time, Maryland has launched two investigations — one to unearth the circumstances surrounding McNair’s death, the other to address allegations of an abusive culture within the program. Durkin was placed on administrative leave on Aug. 11, leaving Canada in charge of a team with no shortage of distractions.
“We talk about it daily as a team,” Canada said Tuesday. “I couldn’t be prouder of the way they’re working at it. We’re helping each other. Everything that they’ve dealt with, they’ve done the best job they could possibly do. We’re as ready as we can be, given the situation that we’re in.”
Clear path in Indiana
Indiana University athletic director Fred Glass says football fans should have a clear path from Indianapolis to Memorial Stadium for all seven home football games this season.
Construction on the Interstate 69 extension between Indianapolis and Evansville and around the Hoosiers’ stadium has caused headaches for more than a decade.
Glass says the Indiana Department of Transportation and the governor’s office have assured him four lanes on Interstate 69 will remain open for home football and men’s basketball games all season.
Nebraska coach Scott Frost says quarterback Tristan Gebbia has been granted a release, freeing him to transfer to another school. True freshman Adrian Martinez was named the starting quarterback over the weekend.