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Notre Dame Football

Book Ready To Lead Irish To Athens

September 16, 2019

Notre Dame quarterback Ian Book needed to get back on track on Saturday afternoon against New Mexico and the senior did just that as he completed 15-of-24 passes for 360 yards and five touchdowns.

Book also knows the slow start by the offense can’t happen on Saturday night in Athens against No. 3 Georgia.

“Felt good,” stated Book. “I thought the coaches did a really good job of giving us a great game plan that was able to put us in the right spots. I was really happy with being able to make the big play when we needed it. Thought we might have started a little slow in the beginning, but I think you saw that we were able to pick it up as the game went on and that's huge. We need that in the offense and really happy for the offense and big shout out to the O-line. I thought they did a great job tonight protecting me. It was great.

Book will be the first to admit the stats might be a little inflated due to the success of the jet sweep flip where Chris Finke ad Avery Davis scored long touchdowns, but he doesn’t care if he gets credit or not as Notre Dame was able to showcase big play ability.

“I guess it feels good because it's considered a pass,” laughed Book. “But either way, if it was a run, I'd have been just as excited. I'd ran down there and celebrated in the end zone regardless. But when you have guys like that with speed who can really get around on the edge, it's a great design play and being able to do that twice and get some big chunk plays was awesome.”

Davis jump-started the Irish offense with his 59-yard touchdown in the second quarter and it was a play that has been a long time coming after being moved back to offense last week. 

“He had to learn some of the plays and that, but he's really athletic,” Book said of Davis. “You saw that tonight. Someone might switch their position and you might think it's going to be a bigger issue than it was with him. Shows the type of player he is and where he's at mentally and he's ready to go. Nothing better than to see him get that run tonight. I'm excited for him and I know he was too. I like to say he belongs on offense. That's where we like him and we'll keep him there.”

Classmate Javon McKinley also had a big day as he recorded two catches and two touchdowns, including a wild 65-yard touchdown. Notre Dame wanted yards after the catch and McKinley showed he was able to do just that as he caught a crossing route from Book. 

“He's really athletic and super strong,” stated Book. “When you see him running, you saw four or five guys bounce off of him. I was super happy for him and he's faster than people think. When you get him the ball on a drag like that and he can go all the way down the field and make four or five people miss. That's huge and again, he has another touchdown on a back-shoulder fade. He's able to go there and be strong with his hands and bring down a fade ball. He's someone you want on the perimeter and he's someone we need this year and he's doing great.”

The California native was the subject of many fans following the Louisville game for bailing in the pocket too early. On Saturday, Book did a much better job of standing in the pocket and getting the ball out, including a 29-yard strike to tight end Tommy Tremble where he knew a big hit was coming. 

“That's something I want to focus on, stay there and take it on the chin if you have to and get the ball to our playmakers,” explained Book. “I talk about that every time. Good job by Tremble being able to stay in his route and I trust him to make plays. He's a great player. Being on the ground and you hear the crowd roar, there's nothing better than that. You know it went well.”

As for this week, Notre Dame will need Book to raise his level of play and it’s something he’s confident in as the Irish have prepared for this game all offseason with Director of Football Performance Matt Balis. 

“We just have to go into it,” Book stated. “It's going to be a hostile environment. We just have to go in there and play our game and focus on us and the small details. That's what it takes to win on the road. We talk about having a road warrior mindset and that's what it's going to take for us. This week, we don't have to do anything different. We have to keep doing what we're doing, keep trusting the coaches, follow our plan and we've been talking about this game for a while. 

“We're going to feel good and then once Sunday comes, it's Georgia weekend. We've been looking forward to it. It's time to take advantage of it.” 

Notre Dame will need to clean up some areas of the offense before Georgia, but Book and his offense know where they have to get better this week in practice in preparations to move to 3-0. 

“It's more like every play can be tuned up and fixed,” said Book. “We know that. I thought we did a really good job for Louisville and New Mexico just focusing on the game in front of us and coming out 1-0 every week. That's what it's about. Coming out 1-0.” 

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