Blue and Gold Illustrated

Nov. 2, 2019

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

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26 NOV. 2, 2019 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED IAN BOOK TAKES A STEP BACK The most talked about position on any football team is, of course, the quarterback, and this is especially true at Notre Dame. Senior Ian Book has been the sig- nal-caller at Notre Dame for over a year now, and just when it appeared he had turned a corner in his career he took a step backward. Against Michigan, Book was 8-of-25 passing for 73 yards with a touchdown that went to junior tight end Cole Kmet. The passing numbers were the worst in his career, but watching how flustered Book looked most of the night was more disconcerting. One of the major issues coming into this game was Book's propensity to leave the pocket early once he per- ceived pressure. This tendency also leads to him not going through his progressions. He will stand in and look down his first option, and if it is not there, then he will take off and at- tempt to pick up yards with his legs. The problem with this strategy is usually there is someone running open deeper into his progression, which he tends to miss when he is bailing out of the pocket. His struggles against Michigan were exacerbated by the fact that there was actual pressure at times early in the game that his of- fensive line was not picking up. Once this occurred, Book was not long for the pocket for the remainder of the game. After the game Irish head coach Brian Kelly was not ready to make any definitive statements about his quarterback's play. "Can Ian get better? Clearly, he can get better," Kelly said. "I'm not going to sit up here right now and say that Ian Book is the reason [for the loss]." Regardless of whether it was Book's fault or not, this is a trend that needs to be corrected if Book is going to ascend to the next level of quarterback play. MISSED OPPORTUNITIES EARLY With about nine minutes to go in the first quarter, Notre Dame sopho- more linebacker Bo Bauer made what could have been the special teams play of the day by partially block- ing a punt with Michigan on its own 13-yard line. Instead of staying away from the ball, though, senior linebacker Jonathan Jones tried to recover it, fumbled it — — and all of sudden Michigan had the ball back and ended the drive with a field goal. "Football is a game of momentum," senior safety Alohi Gilman said. "That would have been a huge mo- mentum shift for us. Unfortunately, we weren't able to make that play." Notre Dame needed to respond on the subsequent drive. On third-and- nine from the Iris 31-yard line, senior quarterback Ian Book rolled out to his left and was hit as he threw the ball to a wide-open Chase Claypool, who misjudged the pass and ended up dropping it. If the senior wide re- ceiver had taken a step forward, he likely would have caught the ball with plenty of room to run, which could have allowed Notre Dame to swing the momentum back in its favor. Alternatively, Michigan scored on its two ensuing possessions. Then down 17-0 with 6:20 left in the second quarter, Notre Dame had a chance to respond before the first half ended. It was third and three on the Michigan 35-yard line and Book threw a 50-50 ball that Claypool caught over a defender, who was also called for pass interference. This would have given the Irish the ball in the red zone, where they are perfect on the season. However, se- nior left tackle Liam Eichenberg un- necessarily ran too far away from the line of scrimmage and was flagged as an ineligible receiver downfield. The two penalties offset, Notre Dame was forced to replay the down and Book ended up throwing an incomplete pass on fourth down. "We didn't play to our standards," junior right tackle Robert Hainsey said. "We didn't play to our identity as a team and as individual groups, and it's something we're going to have to look at and take a long, hard look in the mirror and figure out what we did wrong and how to fix it and how to come back stronger." JAY BRAMBLETT SHINES ON DARK NIGHT There were few aspects Notre Dame could hang its collective hat against Michigan during the 45-14 loss to the Wolverines. When the of- fense is not playing up to par, the one guarantee is that the punting unit will get plenty of work and that is exactly what transpired. On 10 different occasions, head coach Brian Kelly called on his punting unit to bail out yet another failed offen- sive drive, and freshman Jay Bramblett MICHIGAN GAME NOTES BY ANDREW MENTOCK AND VINCE DEDARIO Book had the worst night of his career passing, connecting on just 8 of 25 throws for 73 yards with one touchdown, and was benched in the fourth quarter. PHOTO BY LON HORWEDEL

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