2020 Notre Dame Football Preview

Digital Edition

Blue & Gold Illustrated: 2020 Notre Dame Football Preview

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Page 50 of 163

BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED 2020 FOOTBALL PREVIEW ✦ 49 But when asked about the luxury level of having Book back to take the snaps from the center, Kelly said the second half of last season following a 45-14 loss to Michigan provides the necessary answers. "After the Michigan game, for him to lead our football team to six consecutive wins, that's pretty good," Kelly explained of Book going 5-0 in November and winning the bowl game to finish 11-2. "That shows some resilience and leadership, and all those guys know that. They want to follow a guy like that just because of his actions from last year. So he's got a ton of credibility and a lot of respect from his peers." Having Book take the fifth-year oppor- tunity for 2020 immediately provides the Irish with a calming veteran presence and, statistically, one of the best quarterbacks in program history. Carrying a 20-3 record as a starter, Book needs 10 wins to break the Notre Dame ca- reer record of 29 victories shared by previous Irish signal-callers Tom Clements (29-5), Ron Powlus (29-16-1) and Brady Quinn (29-17). Beyond win counts, the importance of Book's familiarity with the team and system becomes magnified this fall following the cancellation of spring football, and while he works under a constricted preseason time frame and strict distancing policies during training camp. Developing a first-year starting quarter- back under coronavirus constraints would have coaxed a difficult set of challenges at a position that requires savvy and knowledge well beyond simply throwing a football. "If you only know your job, you don't fully grasp the whole concept [of the of- fense]," Book explained in a feature story for the Notre Dame athletics website. "If any situation happens in a game, you wouldn't be able to adjust because you wouldn't truly know what's going on everywhere." Already among the most accomplished quarterbacks in Irish history, Book currently owns the best career completion percentage (63.5) and lowest interception percentage (2.16) ever at Notre Dame. He also ranks second in career passing ef- ficiency (148.2), fourth in career touchdown passes (57), fifth in completions (500), fifth in career rushing yards by a quarterback (1,033) and sixth in career passing yards (6,118). Barring injury or some other unforeseen circumstance — and assuming an entire Book is slated to become the first quarterback to be a three-year starter during head coach Brian Kelly's 11 seasons in South Bend. PHOTO BY ANDRIS VISOCKIS Much Behind, MORE AHEAD Fifth-year senior quarterback Ian Book looks to build on his first two years as a starter BY TODD D. BURLAGE A s the "will he or won't he return" wheel spun all around Ian Book last December before and immediately after Notre Dame's 33-9 win over Iowa State in the Camping World Bowl, the Irish quar- terback quickly ended all drama one day after the victory with a succinct Instagram post: "See you in 2020." And with that, the often celebrated, sometimes maligned Irish starting quarterback put aside his NFL aspirations to return for a fifth season and become the first consecutive three-year starting quarterback during Brian Kelly's 11 seasons as Irish head coach. The full impact of Book's return won't be measured until December or January.

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