The regular season came to a close and Notre Dame wrapped up their second undefeated season in the Brian Kelly era. Ian Book took over and never looked back as he was a main reason for the perfect finish. Book was also just voted MVP by his team (https://www.ndinsider.com/football/ian-book-takes-home-mvp-honors-at-notre-dame-s/article_43068ad0-cdcf-55e9-8a3b-424eaf80c22a.html).
So with Book garnering the praise and awards, there shouldn’t be much to worry about, right? Book has been reliable and a major reason for the Notre Dame success. On the other hand, there have been underlying issues that could rear their head on a national stage.
Before diving in I will say I fully support Book and give him a majority of the credit for the offensive turnaround this season. Now that it is out of the way, it is time to talk about worst case scenario.
Jake Browning Effect
Browning took the college football world by storm in 2016. He bounced back after a rough Freshman season to lead Washington to their first playoff appearance. Throughout the 2016 season, Browning was solid all year but struggled against better competition. His numbers were never bad, just that he would struggle enough for the offense to stall.
In the first round of the playoff, Washington ran into Alabama and that’s all she wrote. Browning was exposed by Alabama and had his worst game of the season. What was originally hidden flaws in Browning’s game were put in the spotlight and he never quite recovered. The accurate, athletic Browning was held to negative rushing yards and only 150 yards passing. With know other way to put it and to simple reiterate, he was exposed.
Ian Book Against Clemson
While there are similarities between Browning and Book, I’m not saying this is going to happen. Book has been more consistent throughout the year then Browning was during his run. He also doesn’t make many stupid mistakes and plays with great poise. But for as great as he can be, he has his faults.
Nobody expects Book to be the prefect QB in his limited reps, but they are worth noting. Book seems to disappear against higher competition this season. Pittsburgh and USC gave Book his fair share of trouble.
Clemson will be bringing in one of the best front sevens in the entire country. The back-end is not great but there will be pressure early and often. Ian Book will have his hands full and will probably be limited with his time to throw. Even more important is how well Clemson shuts down the run.
Dexter Williams has been terrific all season long. But he is also victim to a Notre Dame offensive line that has struggled at times. We have all been witness to what happens when the running game stalls out, the offense stalls out.
This isn’t to pile on Ian Book, hell this could all be for nothing. Book has been excellent and was voted MVP for a reason by his teammates. Book will have his hands full as he plays the biggest game of his career. It also won’t be totally on his shoulders as Brian Kelly will have his own legacy to change. (https://irishfb.com/2018/12/08/clemson-game-comes-down-to-kelly/)
Ian Book is still young with a long career in front of him. Clemson could be what makes the entire country take notice of the stellar play and leadership of Ian Book. Or, it could be another chapter in the Brian Kelly era of that ends in heart break. Ian Book has the chance to cemented as a Notre Dame great and it starts December 29th.
Will Ian Book shine under pressure or will he go the way of Jake Browning? Let us know below!
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Started Saturday Tailgate in 2018. Covering all things college football and talking Notre Dame on Twitter.