A simple plan
Brady Quinn on Notre Dame’s QB revelation: ‘Sometimes we overcomplicate the position’
Ian Book committed to Notre Dame on Aug. 4, 2015.
A date that will live in infamy? Perhaps. But at the time, it was hardly the stuff of text alerts.
Book was a three-star quarterback recruit, ranked outside the national top 500, via 247sports.com.
The Sacramento-area native had planned to attend Washington State after also receiving offers from Boise State, Idaho and UN L V. Notre Dame grew interested after getting turned down by five-star studs Jacob Eason and Shea Patterson. The 6-foot Book threw a modest 18 touchdown passes in 10 games as a junior.
“He has decent height and decent arm strength. He’s nothing spectacular, but he’s a good, efficient quarterback.”
That’s how CBS Sports Network recruiting analyst Tom Lemming described Book to NDInsider.com. And that scouting report has proved prescient.
“There’s a perception of what you have to be or how you have to look as a quarterback,” Brady Quinn said. “People want this cookie cutter, but it doesn’t have to be.”
Quinn looked and played the part for Notre Dame, setting 36 team records as the school’s dashing quarterback, listed at 6-4, 227 pounds.
After Book committed, Quinn checked out his highlight tape on Hudl.
“I remember thinking: Man, this kid has really good feet,” said Quinn, now an analyst for Fox Sports and CBS Sports HQ. “He seems relatively accurate and he moves well. Every time I was up at Notre Dame, I’d ask about Ian.”
The DeShone Kizer/Malik Zaire drama dominated 2016. Brandon Wimbush seized the job in 2017 and locked it up during fall camp. Every time Quinn asked about Book, he was told something along the lines of: “He doesn’t do anything exceptionally well.”
Heading into Notre Dame’s 2018 season, Quinn said, “We knew the defense would be good withsomanyuppercla ssmen, which is rare now in college football. We knew the quarterback would have big guys to throw to and that they’d run well, even though they had to replace a couple of studs on the offensive line. The only question was quarterback. And the one on the bench turned out to be better than the starter.”
Wimbush produced narrow victories over Michigan (24-17), Ball State (24-16) and Vanderbilt (22-17) with a passer rating of 114.2. He com pleted 55.3 percent off his passes with one touchdown pass and four interceptions.
Book is 3-0 after romps over Wake Forest (56-27), Stanford (38-17) and Virginia Tech (45-23), producing a rating of 170.7 that’s 13th in the nation. His stats (73.3 percent, 9 TDs, 1 INT) jump off the page in a way that his size and talent do not.
“Sometimes we overcomplicate the quarterback position,” Quinn said. “This is going to sound like a shot at Joe Montana, but he was not the most athletic, physically gifted or imposing and didn’t have the strongest arm.
“With Ian you see a kid who can play the game. He doesn’t look like he’s trying to process or think out there, he just plays. He moves around back there and knows where he should be going with the foot ball. It’s like someone playing basketball in a constant fluid motion.”
Said coach Brian Kelly: “A lot of the things with the quarterback position require sense and feel for the game. He sees things very well.”
Take this crucial play from Saturday’s victory at Virginia Tech (at the 1:31 mark in the video). Notre Dame led 24-16 and faced a third-and-8 from the Virginia Tech 40. Book took a shotgun snap and within two seconds, his pocket broke down. Book scrambled left, drawing the pursuit of two Hokies players who abandoned coverage.
Book flipped across his body to an all-alone Miles Boykin, who motored in for the score.
ESPN/ABC play-by-play man Chris Fowler hailed Book’s “improvisational skills.”
The throw left Quinn to wonder if Book has a baseball background or is diligent in practicing what he called “funny-arm” throws.
“He didn’t even have to get his shoulders square,” Quinn said. “He just flicked it.”
Book will make his fourth straight start Saturday for the Irish, who play Pitt. Social media was ablaze Monday about a rumor that Book would be suspended because of an academic issue. Kelly shot that down.
ESPN’s Playoff Predictor gives Notre Dame a 62 percent chance to make college football’s Final Four. Only Ohio State (74 percent), Clemson (73) and Alabama (72) are given higher hopes.
The Irish are no longer just scraping by. They are producing dominant victories behind Book.
That’s a development few saw coming.
Notre Dame quarterback Ian Book (12) makes a throw during the second half against Virginia Tech on Saturday in Blacksburg, Va. The Irish won 45-23.
NotreDame quarterback Brandon Wimbush,left, talks with teammate Ian Book during the second half against Virginia Tech on Saturday.