AP Top 25 Takeaways: When good isn't good enough, switch QBs
By RALPH D. RUSSO, AP College Football Writer
Making a quarterback switch with a good team can be a tricky maneuver.
But sometimes good isn’t good enough.
No. 8 Notre Dame made the move Saturday at Wake Forest. No. 21 Miami did the same, with the relative ease you might expect against Florida International. Meanwhile, the QB rotation continued at No. 3 Clemson — though it’s becoming more obvious the Tigers’ best quarterback isn’t the starter.
Fighting Irish coach Brian Kelly insisted all week both Brandon Wimbush, who started the first three victories for the Notre Dame, and backup Ian Book would play against Wake Forest , one of the worst pass defense teams in the country. Well, he lied– which is pretty typical when it comes to quarterback controversies.
Book started and had a career game with 325 yards passing, two touchdowns and no interceptions and Notre Dame’s offense had its best game of the season. Credit Kelly for making the move — or maybe ask what took so long? But It was only four weeks ago that Wimbush got a game ball from Kelly after playing solidly in the opener against Michigan.
“I didn’t sleep great last night, because that’s a pretty big decision to make when you’re 3-0 and your quarterback that was leading your football team was 13-3 as a starter,” Kelly said. “But I had a lot of confidence in Ian and I thought our offense played to the level that it was capable of. That certainly showed itself today.”
Is that it for Wimbush, a senior and slick runner who has never quite overcome his accuracy issues? Notre Dame may still find his skills useful in the coming weeks against No. 7 Stanford and No. 13 Virginia Tech. For now, pencil in Book.
Miami coach Mark Richt started Malik Rosier, who was coming off a big game against Toledo, but went to redshirt freshman N’Kosi Perry early against FIU . Perry tossed three touchdowns. It was a little surprising Rosier held on to the job in the offseason after he slumped so badly at the end of last season. Perry has more upside, but wasn’t ready. Maybe he is now, just as the Hurricanes enter ACC play.
“It’s not like Malik has done anything wrong by any means,” Richt said. “He’s done a lot of great things for us but the other guys are beginning to mature to the point where we want to see what they can do.”
Clemson coach Dabo Swinney has been steadfast in saying the plan is to play both returning starter Kelly Bryant and fab freshman Trevor Lawrence. It seems the real plan is to develop Lawrence while taking advantage of Bryant’s experience — and not slighting the senior. Against Georgia Tech , Lawrence threw four touchdown passes. Clemson looks like a far more dangerous offense when the Lawrence is flashing his future first-round draft pick talent. For a team with national championship hopes, Lawrence is the player best suited to get the Tigers there.
No. 20 Oregon simply gave away what would have been a huge victory against No. 7 Stanford , thanks in large part to two ghastly fumbles.
Lost in the Ducks’ gag will be the performance of Justin Herbert, who was brilliant, going 26 of 33 for 346 yards. The junior made big-time throw after big-time throw and showed off uncanny athleticism and mobility for 6-foot-6 and 235 pounds.
The Ducks are not likely to have many more marquee games this season in the Pac-12 and the nonconference schedule was flimsy. Oregon could still have a big year, but it will be tough for Herbert to make a serious run at the Heisman while Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa and Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins are putting up huge numbers for playoff contenders in high-profile games late in the season.
Don’t feel too bad for Herbert. His big night is likely to come in April at the NFL draft because he looks like a great candidate to be the first quarterback taken.
Scott Frost’s buyout was not making the rounds on Twitter the way Florida State coach Willie Taggart’s was last week, but Nebraska’s new coach had the worst day of his short head coaching career. You could say Nebraska did not even look like a Big Ten team against No. 19 Michigan — but Rutgers is in the Big Ten .
Each week has gotten a little worse for the Huskers and their new coach, but reality has very much set in. Nebraska was 4-8 last season. This is a massive rebuild for the hometown boy Frost.
“I honestly believe this is going to be the bottom right here,” he said. Nebraska still must play No. 18 Wisconsin and No. 4 Ohio State.
Nebraska is 0-3 for the first time since 1945, but Frost will be afforded far more patience from Huskers fans than Florida State’s will have for Taggart, who took over a team that was 7-6 in 2071, but a program that has been among the best in the country in recent years.
Frost is a former Husker, and the fan base has been beat down badly through two decades of Bill Callahan, Bo Pelini and Mike Riley. Though the days of Pelini’s unsatisfying nine-win seasons are looking good right about now.
Taggart and the Seminoles got a tidy victory against Northern Illinois at home so for at least a week the anxiety level in Tallahassee can be lowered from tense to antsy.
Army pushed No. 5 Oklahoma to overtime in the most Army way possible. Using its triple-option, the Cadets masterfully drained the clock and neutralized Oklahoma’s talent advantage.
The numbers were staggering. Army ran 87 offensive plays and averaged 4.3 yards to OU’s 40 and 8.9 yards per play. Time of possession was Army 44:41 and Oklahoma 15:19. Sooners linebacker Kenneth Murray was credited with 28 total tackles, the most in an FBS game since the NCAA started tracking tackling data in 2000.
Army sent football fans scrambling to radio feeds, Twitter and unauthorized internet streams, looking for updates because the game was only available on television via pay-per view.
AROUND THE COUNTRY: Nothing has exemplified the mediocrity of Texas football in recent year more than the annual humiliation the Longhorns have received at the hands of TCU. That’s why Texas’ convincing victory against the Frogs for its first three-game winning streak since 2014 was significant … It was the ACC’s week to feel some pain. No. 13 Virginia Tech was upset at Old Dominion in what was supposed to be an easy trip across the state to help recruiting and get a W. Instead, the Hokies lost the game and quarterback Josh Jackson with a leg injury. No. 23 Boston College, ranked for the first time in 10 years, flopped at Purdue . Who is the second-best team in the ACC? … Like BC, Oklahoma State’s ended up being the flavor of the week. Texas Tech beat the Cowboys for the first time since 2008 … Kinnick Stadium at night is good for at least one thriller a season involving Iowa. Wisconsin escaped with the victory this time .
Follow Ralph D. Russo at www.Twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP and listen at https://www.podcastone.com/AP-Top-25-College-Football-Podcast
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