Can Ian Book Take the Irish to the Playoff?

 

Even the Brandon Wimbush supporters have to admit, Saturday night was fun. Ian Book has been a hot topic with fans that seems to have equal opinions on both sides. That was until Stanford.

When Book lit up Wake Forest it was easy to write off because truthfully, Wake Forest just is not good. It was easy to say that while Wimbush would have done it differently, he probably could of scored a few on them as well. But Book showed that he is special. Against Stanford Book was 24 of 33 for 278 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions. Book also added 47 rushing yards. He doesn’t have the flash or athleticism of Wimbush but he fits Brian Kelly’s offense a lot better and it has showed as the Irish have scored 94 points in the last two games and helped open the offense up to things we haven’t seen yet.

With the defense as good as they have been and the offense starting to click and look as dominant as Irish fans have been hoping for, I thought it was time to ask. Can Book carry this team to a playoff?

Book is still young being a red-shirt sophomore and his small sample size is small to say the least. But going back to the LSU bowl game last season its tough to forget about this play to Boykin.

As amazing as the play was I won’t give Book too much credit as Miles Boykin did the work but the two definitely have a connection. Last Saturday against Stanford with the score tied at 14, Notre Dame began a drive at its own 20 with two minutes left in the first half. Book, locked in with receiver Miles Boykin and completed passes of 12, 10, 9 and 33 yards to Boykin. The last one placed the Irish at the Stanford 12 yard line and the drive ended with an Irish touchdown to Chase Claypool. Book has this offensive aerial attack firing on all cylinders and opening up the running game and aiding in the excitement in the return of Dexter Williams.

Saying the return of Dexter Williams was anticipated would be an understatement and he did not disappoint. On his first touch Williams ripped off a 45 yard touchdown run.

Williams would go on to rush for a career high 161 yards for the game. When asked about his big run Williams said “First carry, it was a big hole, so I hit it,” Williams said. “It was a great feeling.”

The reason for including all this is to show what Book opens up for the offense. It is fair to write off Wake Forest but this was a night game in prime time against the number seven team in the country. Not only did the Irish win but it was the best win I have seen in the Brian Kelly era in a long time against a team that has had Kelly’s number over the years. The defense was dominant and the offense, as previously mentioned, was clicking on all levels. It is tough to judge where the season will go but the rest of Notre Dame’s schedule looks prime for an undefeated season. During the preseason the likes of Virginia Tech and Florida State made me question if the Irish could play with high end talent like those two as well as beat the usual suspects they play every year. Now the biggest threat might actually be Syracuse with everyone else looking a lot weaker then anticipated. Book is playing very well the last two weeks and could be what it takes to put this team over the top and into the playoff discussion.

To play devils advocate for just a minute. Book also has very little tape and few games under his belt. While he isn’t a true freshman he still hasn’t been tested much. He absolutely shined Saturday but it is also a long season and we did see him struggle during the Miami collapse last season. Wimbush also deserves to be on the field. I have been hard on his performance but he has been a model teammate since joining Notre Dame and hasn’t caused any issues in his time with the Fighting Irish. I think he is athletic enough that he should still see the field, just not as QB 1. I would be interested to see him workout at running back or receiver to see if he could make that work like Braxton Miller a few years back. Kelly made the right move by making the switch at QB but Wimbush should still find a spot somewhere in the Irish offense.

Ian Book could be special. Not saying we have the next Montana here but he could really become great if Kelly doesn’t botch developing another QB. He has the keys with a stacked defense, weapons on offense and a favorable schedule to carry the Irish to greatness but the biggest question still stands, will he?

Let us know what you think in the comments below or follow us on twitter for all things Irish @casualfball

 

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