SportsCrack Blog

Tuesday, October 02, 2018

Notre Dame Icon: Stanford

I rewatched the Notre Dame - Stanford game last night and can agree with head coach Brian Kelly.  This was good old-fashioned Notre Dame football.

Notre Dame dominated both lines of scrimmage.  That's good old-fashioned ND football.  The offensive line opened up holes for Dexter Williams and the running game to run through for over 270 yards.  The defensive line led by Jerry Tillery's 4 sacks held Stanford and the great Bryce Love to only 55 yards rushing while battering and bruising QB K.J. Costello and holding Stanford to only 32 total yards in the 2nd half.

While controlling both lines of scrimmage was the most important aspect of the game one can not ignore how great of a game QB Ian Book had in his first home start under the lights in primetime vs a top 10 team.  Book has a quiet confidence in his game.  You can just tell the way he breaks the huddle and talks with his teammates that he knows he can lead this offense to the promise land while showing the moxie of a dare I say "Baker Mayfield."  I know some people will gasp when they hear the comparison of a redshirt sophomore in Book only making his 3rd start (3-0 by the way) to a Heisman Trophy legend in Mayfield who led the Sooners to the playoffs in back-to-back seasons but the similarities in their games are clearly there.

First off Book doesn't get enough credit for his elusiveness and his pocket awareness when facing the defensive rush.  Like Mayfield Book has shown he can spin, jump, slide step and even shovel pass his way to avoiding a loss behind the line of scrimmage and make huge plays.  Mayfield was an incredibly accurate passer who led his receivers by hitting them in stride at Oklahoma.  Book is doing the same exact thing by completing nearly 75% of his passes vs quality power 5 opponents.  Huge targets like WR Miles Boykin, WR Chase Claypool and TE's Alize Mack, Cole Kmet and Nick Weishar are now being taken advantage of because Book is giving them a chance to make big plays.  Book is going through his progressions and delivering seeds to his teammates.

In all honesty it's fun offensive football to watch.  Finally.  The first 3 games offensively were boring.  Too many 3-and-outs and guys running open not being seen were becoming the norm.  The entrance of Book to the offense has really opened up offensive coordinator Chip Long's playbook.  With Book at QB the sky appears to be the limit in terms of offensive production.  It was a lot more cloudy before Book was behind center.