I’m sure there’s some trepidation in the greater Notre Dame world about the rib injury that will sideline Ian Book and thrust Brandon Wimbush into the lineup.
Wise Irish fans will take a step back, though, and realize this is a surmountable hurdle.
And there could be some really interesting silver linings. Including Phil Jurkovec. Are you listening, Brian Kelly?
Wimbush is 12-3 as a starter, including the first three games of this season, which began with what is now ND’s signature win over Michigan.
Yes, Wimbush lacked the throwing accuracy, decision-making ability and general comfort level Book provided Brian Kelly and his staff.
But Wimbush is not, as they say, chopped liver.
For one thing, Wimbush’s three starts came before the return of running back Dexter Williams, who made the job of Book and the Irish offense much easier.
For another, Saturday’s opponent, Florida State, is no longer a fierce opponent. The Seminoles are not even a shadow of their former selves.
They are coming off two disasters, 47-28 at N.C. State and 59-10 to Clemson.
This stuff is making Jimbo Fisher look prescient for taking the money and running to Texas A&M. The way things are looking in Tallahassee, Jimbo couldn’t have been blamed for bolting to Alaska A&M.
Here are the silver linings—the reason I’m more interested in this game now than I was when we thought Book was going to be the Irish quarterback.
For one, this is a nice opportunity for Wimbush to show that he has kept working despite the disappointment of losing his starting job.
Most importantly, I’d like to see Notre Dame build a comfortable lead and take a look at Jurkovec, the 6-5, 220-pound stud recruit who’s supposed to be the Next Great Irish Thing.
This does not mean a quick hook for Wimbush. Let the senior go out there and do his thing.
This is not just about Wimbush. Nor is it about taking Florida State lightly. Everyone around Wimbush—from offense to defense to ND’s often-wobbly special teams—needs to rally around the absence of Book and play solidly.
And then, armed with a two- or three-possession lead, Kelly could give Jurkovec some snaps. (He had a cameo at Wake Forest, going 0 for 2 and running once for 7 yards.) Some more playing time would be a great thing for the young man—to see what it’s like to direct one of the most scrutinized offenses in America.
And it would be a great thing for Irish fans, to see what the kid can do.
We all know there’s nothing more exciting than the next quarterback.
What we have here is a great opportunity for a reality check. For everyone involved.
And if FSU decides to fool us all and show up. . . never mind.