Changes in personnel and cleaning up technique is likely to lead to better passing stats for Notre Dame football quarterback Brandon Wimbush.
What many thought would be a quarterback battle for Notre Dame football during the Spring practice season is turning out not to be a battle at all. By all accounts, Brandon Wimbush entered the Spring at the starter and has done nothing to lose a tight grip on that role. He has worked on improving his footwork and established chemistry with Miles Boykin — the guy who is projected to be Notre Dame’s No. 1 receiving option.
There will be changes in South Bend in terms of how this Notre Dame team operates offensively. Gone are Quenton Nelson and Mike McGlinchey — two road graders who were the heart of that elite Irish rushing attack in 2017. Also gone is Josh Adams, who was the perfect fit for Notre Dame’s rushing attack — yet had his own limitations.
In 2018, you are likley to see Wimbush throw the ball a little more — both as the result of what should be an improved skill set and necessity. He’ll also have more weapons to get the ball to, as it appears that several backs could see time in the Notre Dame backfield and all of them are capable receivers.
He’ll also have two big targets in Boykin and tight end Alize Mack to target in the red zone — which is likley to lead to Notre Dame throwing the ball more inside the 20.
What does this mean for Brandon Wimbush’s stats?
For starters, we’ll assume that if his pass attempts increase, so will his completions. A 15 percent increase in passing attempts is a solid guess, and it’s also safe to assume that his improved mechanics and comfort in the offense can boost him completion percentage up to around 52 percent. Going off last year’s numbers, those 2018 projections would give Wimbush roughly 164 completions.
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It’s also very likley that Wimbush’s yards per completion decrease in an effort to take better care of the ball. The loss of a game-breaker like Equinimeous St. Brown who can do a lot after the catch might also impact that number a bit. If we dial back the 13.75 yards per completion he had in 2017 to around 12.75, that projects Wimbush at just under 2,100 yards.
In terms of touchdowns, if Wimbush is going to throw the ball more, logic says his touchdown pass total should increase. With a safe projection of between a 10 and 15 percent increase, he could flirt with 20 touchdowns passes in 2018.
Wimbush only threw six interceptions in 2017. More passes means more opportunities to throw picks, but improved mechanics, bigger targets and shorter routes can all even that out. A safe projection for Wimbush as far as interceptions thrown in 2018 would be around seven or eight.
Regardless of what his final stats look like, the Notre Dame offense is at Brandon Wimbush’s mercy in 2018. With Josh Adams gone, Wimbush is now the most dangerous and dynamic threat the Irish have. He’ll be tested immediately by a fantastic Michigan front seven. How he performs in that game may answers a lot of questions about how he’ll perform the rest of the season.