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  • Notre Dame quarterback Brandon Wimbush, left, runs past Vanderbilt safety LaDarius Wiley during the second half of an NCAA college football game in South Bend, Ind., Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018. Notre Dame won 22-17. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Thursday, September 20, 2018 8:50 pm

Brian Kelly suggests more time for quarterback Ian Book

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

At his post-practice press conference Thursday, Brian Kelly was asked about his quarterback situation and whether Ian Book would see the field Saturday against Vanderbilt. This is how he responded:

"(Brandon Wimbush and Ian Book are) both going to play. I've said that all year. We need them both to win and they're both ready."

"We think (Book) is a good quarterback," Kelly added later. "We recruited him to Notre Dame to win championships, just as we did with Brandon (Wimbush). That's why we put him (Book) in the game against Vanderbilt, to win."

Book has played in all three games this season, though his contribution has mostly been limited to handing the ball off when Notre Dame is inside the opposing team's 10-yard line. Against Vanderbilt, the backup threw his first three passes of the season, including a 2-yard touchdown to tight end Nic Weishar.

Kelly's comments about his quarterbacks could be interpreted as an indication that Book will continue to get into the game solely in those goal-line packages, but it's also possible he has a bigger role in mind for the backup this week. When Kelly was asked about Book possibly getting into the game in different situations this week, he was coy with his answer.

"Each and every week what we've tried to do is know that we have assets on our team and we're going to apply those assets to where we think makes sense for us to win," the coach said.

Kelly understandably doesn't want to give away his team's gameplan and he tried to imply that the quarterbacks have prepared this week in the same way they have before every other game. Earlier in the season, however, Kelly repeatedly reiterated that Wimbush was the starter and, when asked after the Ball State game whether he'd thought about taking Wimbush out after he threw three interceptions, he said

"I don't think it got to the point where, 'Hey, let's pull Brandon Wimbush out of that game.' It got to the point where, 'Hey, let's execute together."

Wimbush played decently against Vanderbilt last week, throwing for 122 yards and running for 84 more. Outside of the three interceptions against the Cardinals (one of which bounced off the receiver's hands first), Wimbush has shown improvement from last season, with improved footwork (mostly) and some better decision-making. Despite that, it seems possible that Book could have an expanded role this week.