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Notre Dame Football

Book Looking to Build Off Positives from Notre Dame Win

September 14, 2020

Notre Dame quarterback Ian Book and the Irish offense struggled to open Saturday's game against Duke, but the California native was pleased to see his team's response. 

Spirits remained high and the coaching staff didn't lose their cool and rallied the offense at halftime. 

"I think there are a few things, but more Xs and Ox wise," Book said on potential issues to fix following the slow start. "I actually liked the way the energy was, even when we had a slow start in the first half. I didn't see anybody shy away. Everyone was ready to go. We knew we had a second, third and fourth quarter to go. There was no reason to freak out. The coaches did a great job with that too and said there was no reason to freak out.

"I don't see anyone giving up and the will to win in all these guys." 

The Duke defense changed a few things up front and it took the Irish a few series to adapt, but Book was pleased with how his offensive line played.

"They had a good scheme," stated Book. "They ran what we thought they were going to run and we got a good week of practice against that. Obviously, with them doing a lot of line games, that's difficult. I thought our O-line did a great job and our running backs did a great job in protection. I felt I had time back there."

It might not have been Book's best game, but he did end up completing 19-of-31 passes for 263 yards, one touchdown and one interception. 

Book was also quick to credit his receivers and back for going out and making a few plays for him. 

"I planned on going in there and feeling great from the get-go," Book said. "I felt I had a little bit of a slow start, but the team carried me for a little bit. I felt I got back to where I want to be. The receivers did an unbelievable job making plays for me. 

"Again, the running backs, that's where I was extremely impressed with some young guys in there for the first time. When they play like that, it's huge and helps open up the pass and get in a groove as an offense." 

Kyren Williams made his first start at running back and rushed for 112 yards and two touchdowns, but also added 93 yards in the receiving game. 

Book wasn't surprised with the performance as Williams had been putting on a show in camp over the last month.

"He's the same guy every day," Book explained. "In fall camp, he truly brings the energy. When you go on the field on game day, he's doing the same thing. That's what's it's all about. He runs extremely hard and loves the game of football. 

"Personally, to be in the backfield with him, I feel comfortable. He's someone that helps motivate me and I do that for him too. We just use each other's energy." 

Freshman tight end Michael Mayer also made quite the debut with three catches for 38 yards, including two momentum plays for first downs. 

"I was extremely impressed with Michael," said He's been doing that all camp as well. I wasn't surprised, but he's just physical. Everybody saw that tonight. He's not going to go down the first time he's touched and as a quarterback, that's huge. It almost feels like you might check the ball down, but he's going to get more than that." 

Junior receiver Joe Wilkins Jr. also made a couple big plays on Saturday when the Irish needed it. The South Florida native had patiently been waiting for his time and took advantage of his reps.

"Energy," Book said of what Wilkins brings to the team. "That's what I see with him. He's extremely confident and he should be. He's very versatile and I feel a lot more comfortable with him. We've been able to put in a lot more reps. He's someone I'm always talking to on the field. 

"When his name is called, he's going to be ready and he showed that tonight. He's got more to go and I think he's going to be a really good player for us." 

Notre Dame has work to do on offense and Book would be the first to tell you that, but there were positives to build off of including the use of misdirection in the run game. 

The ability to use moving parts will only help open things up for the Irish pass game and it's now on the offense to master it moving forward.

"We have a lot of playmakers who can stretch the field," said Book. "When you can use that and give them the ball or not, it's going to help with misdirection of the defense. When there are a lot of shifts and motions or guys running fast in front of the ball, it's huge. We've been repping that and we have a lot of guys who can do that. We have some speed." 

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