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Preseason Practice Update - August 9

Aug. 9, 2016

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By Michael Bertsch and Leigh Torbin

You may have heard or read something about the Irish having to make a decision over their starting quarterback.

Of course, having two experienced and viable options is a great problem to have. Notre Dame is one of just five schools in the nation who return two starting quarterbacks with wins over “power 5” teams in 2015.

Not only do the Irish have 2015 starters DeShone Kizer and Malik Zaire back in the fold, along with other talented scholarship signal callers in Brandon Wimbush, Ian Book and vastly under-appreciated Montgomery VanGorder, but they also have a slew of veteran minds guiding them.

In head coach Brian Kelly, associate head coach Mike Denbrock and offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Mike Sanford, Notre Dame has no shortage of experience, brainpower and creativity seamlessly assessing how best to utilize the skills of Kizer, Zaire and others to best lead the Irish onward to victory.

“I believe what we have here is very unique,” Sanford told Fighting Irish Media’s Jack Nolan in an insightful exclusive interview to be posted Wednesday on WatchND. “It starts with respect — respect for each other and not just respect for everything that they’ve done in their careers. It also comes down to respecting their knowledge of the game and their experiences within the game of football and what that lends itself to.

“The same holds true for me. Me, being kind of a new guy in terms of this offensive system, it’s something that coach Kelly and Mike Denbrock’s been in a lot longer than I have. But they also respect the ability for me to have ideas and bounce those off of them to see how they respond. We do get along. It’s a really good environment to be around.

“We don’t just have three great offensive minds in that room. I believe that (running backs coach) Autry Denson is a great offensive mind. (Tight ends coach) Scott Booker, being from a defensive backs background, brings a completely different skill set to the table in understanding coverages really well and understanding defensive structure very well. And, (offensive line coach) Harry Hiestand, it goes without saying that he’s the best offensive line coach that you can find. There’s great ideas and input, not just coming from the three people that might carry a bigger title but from the whole group.”

Great minds are working with great material. There is no doubt that however the quarterback race turns out, no matter how the positional depth could juggle during the unpredictable nature of a college football season, the combination will leave the Irish in great shape and with ample tactical options.

“The old adage is if you have two quarterbacks you have no quarterbacks,” Sanford told Nolan. “I think that couldn’t be further from the truth here.”


Freshman WR Javon McKinley has switched to uniform number 88 which he also wore in high school and Corey Robinson had worn for the Irish from 2013-15.


Controversy raged on social media in the wake of Monday night’s annual student managers vs. student athletic trainers game at Culver.

The athletic equipment staff claimed victory on twitter Tuesday afternoon by posting a photo of the supposed winning team. The athletic training staff swiftly responded but not only tweeting a correct final score, 5-1 in favor of their student assistants, but also dropping a pointed and damning #liarliarpantsonfire hashtag back to the equipment staff. As of press time, the equipment staff has not publicly responded to the taunt either with continued defiance of the amateur scorekeepers or by threatening to actually light the athletic training staff’s team-issued pants on fire in retaliation for the hashtag heckling.

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Michael Bertsch, director of football media relations at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 2006. An Akron, Ohio, native, he graduated from Walsh University (Ohio) in 1998 with a bachelor’s degree in communications and also received his master’s degree in health and physical education with an emphasis in sports administration from Marshall University in 2001.

Leigh Torbin, athletics communications assistant director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 2013. He serves as the football publicity team’s top lieutenant and coordinates all media efforts for Notre Dame’s lacrosse teams. A native of Framingham, Massachusetts, Torbin graduated from the University of Massachusetts in 1998 with a bachelor’s degree in sports management. He has previously worked full-time on the athletic communications staffs at Vanderbilt, Florida, Connecticut and UCF.