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Notre Dame Football

Bold Prediction For 2019 | No. 3

August 26, 2019

Notre Dame quarterback Ian Book moved into the starting role in week four last fall as the Irish started 3-0. 

Book completed 25-of-34 pass for 325 yards and scored five touchdowns on the day. Notre Dame hasn’t looked back on the decision since. 

The California native has said and done the right things all the way to this point. Book is the same person as he was a year ago despite becoming a household name and filling up Social Media timelines. 

How does Book build on a year where he threw for 2,628 yards, 19 touchdowns and completed 68.2 percent of his passes?

“Just the overall command of the offense,” Notre Dame offensive coordinator Chip Long said of Book’s growth over the past nine months. “How he interacts with every position group. The way he's adapted well with some new guys playing a lot more reps and just feeling their tempo and knowing when they're going to be able to anticipate getting out in and out of their cuts — especially the young receivers.

“He's adapted really well to those guys and just his overall leadership and confidence, and the way he goes about each and every practice has been really impressive.”

That leads me to my bold prediction.

Ian Book will be in the race for the Heisman Trophy. 

Will he be a finalist? Will his campaign end quicker than Josh Adams? I don’t know. 

I do know Brian Kelly has never had a quarterback take a snap as a captain. DeShone Kizer was named a captain, but then declared for the NFL. Jimmy Clausen was Notre Dame’s last quarterback to hold the role and he probably would have been in the Heisman race if the Irish had any type of defense. 

It goes deeper than Book’s leadership. It starts with his desire to be the starting quarterback at Notre Dame. 

Book is the ultimate team player, but he wasn’t about to play himself out of a job last fall and that attitude is there heading into 2019.

“The biggest change for Ian is you go from being the kid that probably wasn’t supposed to play and then you come in and play so well that everyone loves you to now you’re the guy and your expectation level is through the roof,” explained Notre Dame quarterbacks coach Tommy Rees. 

“How are you that steady every day? How do you continue to make big plays? How do you continue to get better?

Now, Book has room to grow and it starts with the deep ball. At the start of camp, Book was a little off, but the final two practices I observed, I’m not sure that’s going to be an issue. 

Book’s deep ball has been the talk of the offseason and while Rees and Book will both laugh when asked about it, the senior quarterback certainly focused on it. 

“For me, the advancement for him was we needed to push the ball down the field and be more consistent there,” Rees said. “The next step for him is to try to get through progressions without trying to get out of the pocket all the time. You don’t want to take that game away from him, but you also want him to see, hey, if you get through mentally quicker there are some good things happening where we can get the ball to.

“He’s improved in those areas. He’s learned what it’s like to be a returning starter here and what the expectation level is and what his commitment level needs to be. He handles himself extremely well in all (aspects) of what’s expected of him. He’s done some things with our wideouts and running backs and tight ends in meeting with them separately and being a leader that way, which has really helped him and those guys all be on the same page.” 

I might be drinking the kool-aid on Book, but once Notre Dame started game prep for Louisville, there was a different switch that came on for him and that’s a good thing for Notre Dame as we’re just a week away from kickoff. 

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