Photo by Rick Kimball/ISD
Notre Dame Football

Notre Dame And Ian Book Fueled By Doubters

December 17, 2018

Exams are over and Notre Dame can fully lock into preparations for the Cotton Bowl against Clemson on December 29th. 

Quarterback Ian Book believes the Irish are confident as the meat of the practice schedule is on the Irish. 

“It’s been awesome,” stated Book. “Now that finals are out of the way, everyone is locked in now. We’re ready to go. The team is confident like we should be and we’re two weeks away from the biggest game of our lives. There’s really nothing else to say.” 

Clemson’s defense will present the most significant test the Irish have faced this season, but the 6-foot, 203-pounder is more focused on controlling what he can control. 

“We have to make plays,” Book said. “When we have those opportunities, we have to make those big plays. I have to get the ball out quickly and there’s some other stuff we have to do.

“Their defense speaks for itself. It will be a great challenge and we’re all excited for the challenge.” 

Book has thrown for 2,468 yards and 19 touchdowns, but his supporting cast has him excited. 

Miles Boykin and Chase Claypool combined for 102 receptions, 1,434 yards and 12 touchdowns while running back Dexter Williams rushed for 941 yards and 12 touchdowns in just eight games. 

“I think we’re going to be able to run the ball,” explained Book. “I have to get the ball out quick and to our playmakers. I have two 6-foot-5 guys on the outside and I’m going to get them the ball and let them go make plays.” 

Book replaced Brandon Wimbush in week four and the bold move by Brian Kelly gave life to the Irish offense. 

The junior quarterback scored five touchdowns at Wake Forest in his first start in 2018 and the Irish haven’t looked back. Book does credit the ability to get more experience for his growth and Notre Dame will be looking for him to raise his game to the next level in Arlington. 

“As you get more reps, you start to become more confident,” Book stated. “Being able to get in there more in practice and in games - when that started to puck up, I felt more confident playing with the guys. It’s just been really fun every week.

“There is definitely room for more growth. Every game there is a handful of plays I want back. I want to grow from and get better at. There are things every day in practice I want to be better at. None of us are too confident or overconfident. We’re excited and I think every week we prepare so well it’s just going to lead to our confidence.” 

Notre Dame will need to be confident as the Tigers boast 48 players with playoff experience and a defensive line that returned to school to win a second National Championship. 

“When you watch them, you see how fast they are and how big they are,” Book stated. They play extremely hard. The defensive line speaks for itself. That will be the greatest challenge we’ve faced. The offensive line and I are excited about it.”

The Clemson secondary has had its ups and downs in 2018, but the talent has jumped off the screen to Book in the film room.

“They are extremely athletic and they play really hard,” Book said of the Tigers secondary. “You can tell they have played a lot of snaps because they play well together. They make plays while the ball is in the air and it’s up to our guys to go get it. It’s a great challenge and this is why you come play D-I college football.” 

Notre Dame will need to score points on the 29th to upset the Tigers and Book is hopeful the Irish can put together a complete performance.  

“I think our ceiling is high and we haven’t put a full game together,” Book explained. “That’s what’s exciting about this offense is how close we are to doing that. We plan on doing that on the 29th. We want to put it all together and it would be a great performance for our offense. 

“In terms of little things, I think everyone is starting to play for each other. When you do that, it’s special and takes you to where you are now. When you play for the guy next to you and the other 10 guys on offense, it’s special and hard to find.” 

Playing for each other might sound clichè, but it’s the truth and it starts with the quarterback room. 

Wimbush has led by example since Book took over as the starter and it has trickled down to every part of the team. 

“He’s helped a ton,” a grateful Book said. “Brandon is always there whether it’s in the film room or on the sidelines when I come off. He’ll say something and always is encouraging. He’ll let me know what he sees. I always look forward to hearing his points and I respect him for being able to do that.” 

While the Irish are double-digit underdogs, the Irish have been fueled by the doubters and the negative spin by the national media throughout the season. 

“Our whole team knows that and there are always doubters and people who hate Notre Dame,” stated Book. “That’s how it’s going to be. There’s always a big target on your back when you come to play for Notre Dame.

“We want to graduate all of our players and win a National Championship. We’re extremely close, but we have two more to go.”

“We’re going to use it to fuel us and be confident about it. We know in this facility that we belong there. We’re going out to prove it.”

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