Blue and Gold Illustrated

Oct. 17, 2020

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

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 27 of 55

28 OCT. 17, 2020 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED IAN BOOK LOOKS CONFIDENT IN THE POCKET Near the end of the third quarter while deep in Fighting Irish territory, Notre Dame fifth-year senior quarter- back Ian Book dropped back to pass on second-and-11. As he did, fifth-year senior left tackle Liam Eichenberg whiffed on a blitzing FSU linebacker, Amari Gainer. Book felt the pressure, spun out of the pocket to avoid a sack and threw the ball deep downfield where it bounced on the turf. This play won't show up in the stat sheet as anything but an incompletion, but Book displayed excellent poise and made an intelligent play to prevent a major loss of yardage. His overall box score isn't other- worldly impressive, either, with 201 yards on 16-of-25 passing for two touchdowns and zero interceptions. He also ran for 58 yards and a score. Still, Book played with a presence and demeanor against FSU that most Notre Dame fans were yearning to see. He also took a number of shots down the field, which resulted in two com- pletions of more than 35 yards. As it turns out, head coach Brian Kelly knew during the week that Book was going to play well after struggling in the first two games of the season. "It was a conversation that he had with us this week," Kelly said. "He said he felt really good — as good as he's felt in quite some time. I don't know, maybe it was a perspective that he had gained. "He was very calm in the pocket. I thought he saw the field well. He was aggressive in pushing the ball down the field. It was nice to see, and if we continue to see that from Ian Book, he's going to be very difficult to defend." Such a statement may seem odd given that this Notre Dame football team just experienced a three-week layoff, but Book said he was able to focus on the positives during his down time. "I felt fresh, my arm felt really good, felt strong," he said. "I was sitting back, everyone was, and we were watching football. It just made me want to get out there even more. "… When we all got back together, it was just such a great feeling, having the whole team together. You could just kind of feel the vibe with the team that we missed time. We want to be together every single day, prac- ticing and playing. You never know when your last game might be." TWO EARLY MISTAKES KEEP FSU IN GAME All week, head coach Brian Kelly made clear his team might need to work some kinks out after missing three weeks because of a COVID-19 outbreak that, at one point, put 39 players in quarantine or isolation. This became abundantly clear on the second play of the game when sophomore running back Kyren Wil- liams fumbled and gave FSU the ball at the Notre Dame 32-yard line. Four plays later, the Seminoles kicked a field goal. All of a sudden, a 21-point underdog had some juice and an early lead. Fortunately, this didn't rattle the sophomore too much. "I just had to tell myself after the fumble just to reset and to play how I always play the game of football," Williams said. But a few series later, Notre Dame punt returner Lawrence Keys III muffed the football after the Irish de- fense forced FSU to punt from deep in its own territory. Three plays and 19 yards later, the Seminoles were in the end zone for the first time with belief they could compete with the Irish, even after having just surren- dered 14 straight points. Perhaps, without those two costly FLORIDA STATE GAME NOTES BY ANDREW MENTOCK AND PATRICK ENGEL Book had a strong game against the Seminoles, completing 16 of 25 passes for 201 yards with two touchdowns while also running for 58 yards and a score. PHOTO COURTESY NOTRE DAME ATHLETICS MISCELLANEOUS NOTES • Fifth-year senior quarterback Ian Book's in- completion to junior wide receiver Joe Wilkins Jr. in the first half on third-and-two was Notre Dame's first pass attempt on third-and-short all season. Prior to that, the Fighting Irish ran the ball on all 15 third-and-short attempts (three or fewer yards to gain) and converted 12 times. • This contest marked the first time since 2000 Notre Dame scored 42 points in consecu- tive games. The Fighting Irish put up 52 against South Florida Sept. 19 before their 42-point outburst against Florida State. • Freshman tight end Michael Mayer hauled in an eight-yard touchdown reception in the first quarter for his first career touchdown. Mayer is the first true freshman tight end to score a touchdown since Kyle Rudolph in 2008 against Purdue. • Senior right tackle Robert Hainsey was the Fighting Irish captain to represent Notre Dame for the coin toss.

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of Blue and Gold Illustrated - Oct. 17, 2020