Greason: Ian Book proves he does not need flash to win games
Elizabeth Greason | Sunday, October 28, 2018
Tua Tagovailoa has flash.
Johnny Manziel had flash.
DeShaun Watson has flash.
Ian Book is not a flashy football player.
And yet, the Irish junior quarterback proved once again Saturday that you don’t need to consistently make plays that will end up on SportsCenter to win games. You just need to win games.
No. 3 Notre Dame (8-0) defeated Navy without much issue, mostly thanks to its impressive offensive efficiency. Despite a stumble on their first possession of the game, the Irish were able to bounce back quickly and efficiently, as Book brushed off senior receiver Miles Boykin’s fumble from the first drive and marched 73 yards down the field to score on the following drive.
Book’s style isn’t one that draws lots of attention, but it’s one that is remarkably effective. The California native passed for 330 yards and two touchdowns in his home state, picking up an additional 50 yards on the run. There were no spin moves and no stiff arms as he dove to gain more yardage. There were no Hail Mary passes to add more points to the scoreboard as time expired, nor were there miraculous tosses made as Book barely evaded oncoming defenders.
And yet, his stats are admirable, comparable to the best of the best — granted, against a defense that has been struggling throughout the season. He finished the night sack-free, a combination of the efforts of the Irish offensive line and his agility and ability to think on his feet. Book is an example of a raw talent who has been groomed into an extremely skilled quarterback, courtesy of quarterbacks coach Tom Rees.
While people weren’t looking, Book has become one of the most dangerous quarterbacks in the country. He’s probably not going to shred the secondary, but he’s going to march down the field in an effective enough way to give the offense a chance to score pretty reliably.
And then, of course, there are the moments when he wasn’t reliable. In the case of Saturday’s 44-22 victory over Navy (2-6, 1-3 AAC), the only true moment in which Book tripped up, personally, was when he threw his lone interception of the game and only his fourth of the season on Notre Dame’s first offensive drive of the fourth quarter.
That turnover led to an 8-point play by the Midshipmen, as they were able to score in two plays and successfully attempt the two-point conversion.
But when Book stepped back on the field after throwing the pick, he showed why he is among the upper echelon of the current college quarterbacks: the mentally tough kind, the kind that might be able to really do something special given the opportunity (an opportunity that Book was handed midseason and has seized with both hands). Book did what so many quarterbacks, including his predecessor under center at Notre Dame, struggled to do, and moved on from his mistake.
He once again marched the offense down the field, tearing apart the Navy defense, one play at a time, and eight plays and 75 yards later, the Irish had secured their 44th and final point of the game.
When Book was asked postgame about his ability to brush off his mistakes (and those of his teammates, for that matter), he noted that it all comes down to confidence. Confidence in himself, in his fellow players, in the offensive schemes, in the coaches. Essentially, Book has enabled himself to take down the most formidable opponents the Irish have faced this season, and allow him to move on when he makes mistakes.
So no, Notre Dame might not find itself replayed on everyone’s highlight reels for generations to come with Ian Book at the helm. But if Book can keep up the pace he has right now, that shouldn’t be a problem, because he doesn’t need all that razzle dazzle to bring home the win.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.