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Book shows confidence with his feet in offense’s dominant performance at Duke

| Sunday, November 10, 2019

Ian Book has had to deal with a lot of noise as of late.

After throwing for only 73 yards in a blowout loss to Michigan two weeks ago and struggling for the majority of last weekend’s contest against Virginia Tech, the senior quarterback has been faced with the public scrutiny that comes with fronting one of the nation’s most storied football programs.

“When you play at Notre Dame for big games, you’re going to have a lot of haters, and that’s just the way it is,” Book said. “With social media, you’re going to hear the noise, and you’re going to hear what people are saying.”

Despite the talk swirling around him, Book says he’s been able to block everything out and focus on what matters most to him —  his team.

“There’s no point in letting any type of outsiders get to you,” Book said. “Social media means pretty much nothing. At the end of the day, it’s about having fun with the guys on the offense.”

Book and the offense seemed to have a lot of fun during Saturday night’s 38-7 over Duke. The offense amassed nearly 500 yards in total and scored more points than their previous two games combined.

The quarterback had what he described as his best game of the season, throwing for four touchdowns and running for 139 yards.

“Our quarterback Ian Book deserves a lot of credit,” head coach Brian Kelly said. “He came out assertive, decisive — those are the words I would use to describe him.”

Kelly, too, acknowledged the growing pains that Book has had to work through and viewed his performance against the Blue Devils as a big step in the right direction.

“This was what we were expecting him to move towards,” Kelly said. “Sometimes it just takes a little bit longer. There are other pressures that he’s now experienced and he’s gone through the worst of it. He’s only going to get better.”

Part of Book and the offense’s success on Saturday might be attributed to a recent conversation the team had with the coaches.

Entering the final month of the regular season on the heels of that rough two-game stretch, Book and the other captains approached Kelly and the rest of the staff this past week and asked to be pushed even harder.

“We talked as a group — all the captains did,” Book said. “It’s hard to win in November, and we want to win every single game. We want the coaches pushing us, and we don’t want anybody to let up. We wanted to remind them, ‘Hey, keep pushing us the right way, and we’ll keep leading from our roles. We’re still playing for a lot of good things here.’”

Kelly noticed a big difference in the practices this past week and praised the work ethic of his starting quarterback.

“Man, these guys practiced so hard this past Tuesday and Wednesday,” Kelly said. “They work so hard, and it may not show up on the scoreboard, but I tell them, ‘Just keep working hard, because you reap what you sow in this game.’ This game will treat you right and they benefited from what they’ve been doing. And Ian Book is that guy. He works so hard, and he will eventually benefit from all the work that he’s put it.”

One area that extra work has benefited Book in has been in his capacity as a runner. After Saturday night’s performance, Book has already surpassed last year’s rushing yardage total by more than a hundred yards — with likely four more games left to play.

Against Duke, the quarterback had four runs of more than ten yards, including runs of 45 and 53 yards. Kelly said that Book’s ability to run with the ball worked well against the defensive scheme that Duke presented.

“We utilized his ability to run against a team that runs a lot of cover one,” Kelly said. “We felt like that would be an asset that would get him into the flow of the game.”

Although Book found success on the ground, there’s one thing the senior wasn’t happy with.

“I need to get faster,” Book said. “I need to get in the endzone. There’s fast [defensive backs] out there. I was able to get some chunk plays, but I want to get into the endzone.”

Although Book may not have been able to punch in one of his runs for a touchdown, after a blowout win and a solid individual performance, the senior may be able to escape some of the noise for another week.

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