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‘A chip on our shoulder’: Book says team embracing underdog status ahead of Georgia showdown

| Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Senior quarterback and captain Ian Book addressed the media Tuesday ahead of Notre Dame’s trip to Athens, Georgia, this weekend. Book, who recently threw a career-high five touchdowns in Notre Dame’s win over New Mexico this past Saturday, said that despite his team being a two-touchdown underdog he’s confident in their preparation and is looking forward to taking on the Bulldogs come Saturday at 8 p.m.

“I don’t think anyone’s too worried about what anyone’s saying outside of this building,” Book said. “Coach [Brian] Kelly just got done saying that at practice. It’s about what we do, it’s about our preparation, it’s about our process. Honestly, we don’t care at all what anyone says. If we’re double digits — we’re supposed to lose by double digits — it’s kind of a chip on our shoulder. We’re going to use it as motivation. I think it’s great, the pressure’s not on us. We’ve got to do what we’ve got to do. We believe in ourselves — everyone in this building— this is one family, we know what we can do, so we’re not worried. We’re just confident.”

Ann Curtis | The Observer
Irish senior quarterback Ian Book drops back and looks to pass during Notre Dame’s 66-14 win over New Mexico on Saturday’s home opener at Notre Dame Stadium.

Following last year’s loss to Clemson in the Cotton Bowl, there were many questions as to how the Irish were supposed to replace six NFL Draft selectees. However, Book isn’t fazed by the change in personnel. If Saturday’s win is any indication of how the new faces are transitioning into the lineup, they’re certainly finding their role in the program.

“Obviously, I’ve been working with those guys since January, once that Clemson game was over,” Book said. “Working on the chemistry with all of them, you’re going to see when things start working out, things really start clicking. It’s huge for me, nothing I have to worry about. Whoever’s on the field when I’m out there, I completely trust to make the play. I couldn’t ask for anything more as a quarterback.”

Book reiterated his feelings of confidence and said he relies heavily on the rest of the quarterback unit and the ability to dedicate time outside of practice to his preparation.

“I feel really good, I feel really confident. I say it every week — got a lot to work on,” he said. “Once the game’s over I want to get back in the film room … and I know there’s going to be a lot of things I can work on. But I feel like I’m progressing in those areas, but still a ton of work to be done, and that starts in the film room and working on the chemistry with all the guys.”

While the new guys are making big contributions early on, Book has been aided by the work of some of his veterans on the offensive side of the ball, notably senior receiver Chase Claypool, who caught 96 yards and a touchdown throughout three quarters of play against the Lobos.

“He’s been making those plays since we started working,” Book said. “… Huge confidence booster for me.”

Despite the confidence Book is experiencing, he acknowledged that the stakes in Athens will be much higher than they were against Louisville or New Mexico earlier in the season. However, to him, matchups like this are what it’s all about.

“It’s going to be a bigger stage,” he said. “A lot of people — it’s going to be really loud. … A lot of guys in this team know what it’s like to travel to a pretty hostile environment. You’ve really got to embrace and have fun with it. These are the reasons you come to Notre Dame. I think our team’s ready. We’ve got a lot of guys who have been there and been in those environments, know we have to go there and got to win.”

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