Photo by Rick Kimball/ISD
Notre Dame Football

Notre Dame Position Battles | Quarterback

June 29, 2020
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For the second season in a row, there is no doubt about who QB1 is for Notre Dame heading into the summer.

This is the first time it’s happened under Brian Kelly, which is one reason why there is confidence that Notre Dame is again going to win double digit games. Ian Book returns with a 20-3 record as a starting quarterback.

He’s been a top-25 quarterback in pass efficiency, a top-20 quarterback in QBR, and one of only five quarterbacks who passed for 3,000, rushed for 400, and threw for 30 touchdowns last season. Book isn’t without his faults, but he was one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in college football in 2019.

This year will be about seeing whether or not he can take his game to another level with Tommy Rees helping him get there. He should have more opportunities to check the offense into the right play and he has the full confidence of Rees without feeling the heat from former offensive coordinator Chip Long.

If Book can throw with better anticipation and have more trust in the pocket, he has a chance to go from good to great. And great quarterback play is the kind of thing that can make Notre Dame a true championship contender.

He doesn’t have to worry about anyone taking his job, but it’s important that someone takes hold of the backup position. The favorite is Brendon Clark, who now has a clear path after Phil Jurkovec decided to transfer.

Clark could have used the spring and all of the reps he was going to get. He’ll have to make due with what he has this summer to get ready and separate himself from freshman Drew Pyne. Clark has the physical talent to develop into a starter for Notre Dame. He moves well and has shown a strong arm in the practices we saw last summer.

It’s going to be important for him to be sharp mentally, though, because Pyne is someone I expect to be very strong with his decision making and accuracy. He isn’t as physically impressive as Clark, but the same could have been said about Book compared to Brandon Wimbush. There’s a lot more that goes into succeeding at the quarterback position than being a superior athlete.

The battle for the number two job is critical this season to not only have someone ready to step up if Book goes down, but for that player to put themselves first in line for when Book is gone in 2021. Both Clark and Pyne have a lot to prove and we’ll see if having a head start for Clark gives him a significant edge.

 
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