Blue and Gold Illustrated

BGI April 2019

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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Page 20 of 55 APRIL 2019 21 QUARTERBACKS 2019 SPRING FOOTBALL OVERVIEW N otre Dame has made tremendous strides as a program the last two years, but up- grades must continue to be achieved be- hind the center for the Irish to truly become a national title contender. Senior Ian Book prospered some last season, and at times was outstanding, but there are areas where his game must improve. He has a firm grasp on the starting position, so the spring for him will be about taking his game to a much higher level. Book set a Notre Dame record by complet- ing 68.2 percent of his passes while making nine starts a season ago, surpassing the previous record held by Jimmy Clausen (2009). However, Book completed only 58.3 percent of his passes in his final four starts, including a season-low 50.0 per- cent in Notre Dame's College Football Playoff loss to Clemson. Opponents limited quick throws and forced him downfield more. Book completed 81.1 percent of his attempts that traveled less than 10 yards from the line of scrimmage, but that rate dropped all the way down to 52.7 percent on throws that went beyond 10 yards, in- cluding a 38.6 percent completion rate on passes at least 20 yards downfield. Crucial to Book's growth this spring will be improv- ing his ability to stretch the field, being willing to take and connect on tougher throws without forcing the ball, and showing the ability to go through his reads faster and make even better — and quicker — decisions. BY THE NUMBERS 47 Highest ranking of an opposing pass efficiency defense that Ian Book faced dur- ing the 2018 regular season. That was Syracuse in the 11th game. The top pass defense the Irish confronted was Michigan (finished seventh, one behind Notre Dame) in the opener, and then Clemson had the No. 15 ranking in that area of the game. Notre Dame opens this season with Louisville, which was 120th in pass efficiency defense last year among 129 teams, and New Mexico, which was 103rd. The next two games against Georgia and Virginia should present much greater challenges. The Bulldogs finished 29th in pass efficiency defense last year while the Cavaliers ranked 12th. 154.0 Ian Book's 2018 quarterback rating in passing efficiency — the highest in Brian Kelly's nine seasons with the Fighting Irish, surpassing DeShone Kizer's 150.1 as a sophomore in 2015 during a 10-3 campaign. Book finished 17th nationally with this figure. His 147.3 career rating overall in passing efficiency is third on the all- time Fighting Irish chart, behind Kevin McDougal's 156.7 from 1990-93 and Kizer's 147.7 in 2015-16. In fourth place is Jarious Jackson (1996-99) at 145.7. 280 Rushing yards by Book in 2018 while demonstrating the ability to maneuver and sense where the pressure is, and then use his feet effectively to move the first-down chains. In each of the last five seasons since 2014, the quarterback position at Notre Dame has collectively produced a minimum of 470 rushing yards. WHO'S GONE Brandon Wimbush He went 13-3 as a starter and accounted for 36 touch- downs (20 passing and 16 rushing), but after getting sup- planted in the lineup last year by Ian Book he will spend his final season at the University of Central Florida. WHO'S BACK Senior Ian Book After stepping in as the starter in game four, he provided the offense with a spark, leading it to 36.6 points per game in the regular season after it averaged just 23.3 in the first three contests. Sophomore Phil Jurkovec He remains in the learning phase of the offense, but he is an ultra- talented player with good size (6-4½, 225 pounds) and dynamic run-throw ability. Returning Returning Year-End Year Starts Passing Yards/TD Yards/TD 2018 13 2,343/20 3,347/23 2019 10 3,084/23 — PHOTO BY ANGELA DRISKELL POSITION BATTLE TO WATCH There isn't a traditional battle at quarterback this spring, with senior Ian Book coming in as the clear starter, but the depth chart lacks the experience it had last season when both Book and Brandon Wimbush had starting experience and led huge victories. Sophomore Phil Jurkovec has just two career pass attempts, and Notre Dame needs him to tap into his immense potential in order to create quality depth at the position. Brian Kelly's Take "Ian's not a particular loud and vocal guy, but he's going to stand up when he needs to say something … and it resonates quite well. He was just a quarterback at Notre Dame last year. "He's a leader in our program [this year]. That's a big difference." IAN BOOK

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