Irish backup QB Ian Book among five standouts at Notre Dame Blue-Gold Game

Brandon Wimbush is Notre Dame's starting quarterback, but backup Ian Book had a solid spring game.

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Brandon Wimbush and Ian Book battled in Notre Dame’s Blue-Gold Game at Notre Dame Stadium on Saturday, but Brian Kelly answered a question that is frequently asked around the program.

“No, there is no quarterback controversy,” Kelly said after the Gold team beat the Blue team 27-14.

Wimbush is the starter heading into the fall for an Irish team, and he had an up-and-down performance for the Blue team. Wimbush finished 22 of 32 passing for 303 yards, but he also threw two interceptions and took seven sacks, a stat hard to gauge because quarterbacks were not hit in the game.

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Here’s a look at five players who stood out in the Blue-Gold Game:

Ian Book, QB

The backup quarterback played well in leading the Gold team to victory. Book finished 17 of 22 for 277 passing yards, the highlight a 37-yard strike to C.J. Sanders. A 58-yard pass to Kevin Stepherson set up another TD. The Gold team scored on its first four drives.

Kelly said Book’s development was one of the most encouraging developments of the spring.

“I’m just trying to be as confident as possible," he said. "I know the mentality here is the next-man is, and that’s where I am right now. … If something were to happen as the next man, I think I will do a good job.”

Kelly was encouraged by Book's performance throughout the spring and in the Blue-Gold game.

"We all came into the spring talking about Brandon Wimbush and rightly so," Kelly said. "The starting quarterback at Notre Dame is a big topic. It's a big story. But the story beneath the story for me was: Who the heck is going to be the No. 2 quarterback? Because if you guys have followed us long enough, we've used our No. 2 here, quite a bit. So having that No. 2, and seeing him perform the way he has this spring, for me, has been one of the big stories. And Ian has done this all spring."

Daelin Hayes, DE

The defensive lineman turned in a monster performance with seven tackles, three sacks and four tackles for loss. Hayes had just 12 tackles and no sacks last season, so this one of the spring revelations for the Irish and a good sign for first-year offensive coordinator Mike Elko.

“It’s pretty clear Daelin Hayes is going to be a disruptive player for us,” Kelly said.

Drue Tranquill, S/LB

Tranquill suffered season-ending torn ACL injuries in both 2014 and 2015, but he’s another player that fits well in Elko’s scheme as the “rover.” He had four tackles, including two tackles for loss on run plays in which Tranquill popped Josh Adams in the backfield on back-side pursuit. He also put on a spin move on Irish guard Quenton Nelson; his "favorite play of the game."

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“It’s been a good fit all spring,” Kelly said of Tranquill’s position switch. “He's a plus player there for us. He really can impact what's happening from snap to snap."

Dexter Williams, RB

Williams totaled 132 all-purpose yards on just 13 touches. He had nine carries for 96 rushing yards, the highlight a 38-yard burst off tackle for a TD on the Gold team’s first possession. Williams added a 41-yard run in the second half. He also had four catches for 36 yards, including an 18-yard screen in which he dragged defenders for a few extra yards.

Alize Mack, TE

Kelly cited the tight ends as a group that excelled in the spring, and that’s a tradition at Notre Dame in most seasons. Mack, a 6-foot-4 junior, will help open up the perimeter for receivers Equanimeous St. Brown and Miles Boykin as a reliable target in the middle of the field. Mack had five catches for 46 yards.

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