We learned a few things about this year’s Notre Dame football team in the win over Florida State.
A win is a win, and for Notre Dame football fans, it was just great to see the Fighting Irish back in action again. The concerns of rust after a long layoff, as well as facing a Florida State team that had been embarrassed in the early going of this year were real fears.
The victory over the Seminoles was solid, and there are some areas to be worked on by the coaches. There were also a few things we saw and learned about this year’s team.
Here are three takeaways from the win over FSU. As with anything revolving around the 2020 Notre Dame football team, it all starts with Ian Book.
No. 3 Ian Book doesn’t need to be great
In the 2020 Red River Rivalry game, Sam Ehlinger nearly willed Texas to a victory of rival Oklahoma today.
Instead, Ehlinger and the Longhorns fell to 2-2. It was the third game in a row Ehlinger needed to pull a major comeback in the 4th quarter, willing Texas by himself. It was also the second time in a row that it didn’t work, largely because of mistakes made by his teammates.
Luckily for Notre Dame, Ian Book is not in that position.
Ian Book has not been the same quarterback in 2020 that he was in 2019 when he put up massive numbers and was one of the best quarterbacks in college football. 2020 has seemed to turn Book into a dip and dunk, game manager.
He was supposed to be so much more than that, but through two games, Book only threw one pass more than 20 yards downfield and through the air. People want answers and better results from the 5th year senior quarterback.
But, here’s the thing, Ian Book doesn’t need to be a dominant quarterback to win.
The Irish offense is designed to power through defenses, without a second thought. So, that’s exactly what they’ve done so far. Behind a dominant running game and elite defensive unit, Notre Dame is quickly 3-0, and have faced very little resistance so far.
In fact, outside of Clemson and North Carolina, Notre Dame shouldn’t face much resistance all season. In those games where they do face resistance, it would be nice to have Book playing at an elite level, but it isn’t necessary.
Take the game against North Carolina. The Tar Heels are an explosive team on the offensive side of the ball. They like to blow the game open with long passing plays. The most important thing to do as Notre Dame, to beat North Carolina, is going to be to limit their passing attack.
How do you do that? You do it through elite secondary play, and some pass rush to force bad throws. On the offensive side of the ball, you control the clock and limit their possessions.
You don’t need elite play out of Ian Book to win, though.
Of course, it would be nice if Book could step up and play at the elite level he is supposed to by now. It would make games even easier, and open up the running game more. You wouldn’t be scared to fall behind opponents in games.
But let’s be realistic. At this point in Ian Book’s career that isn’t going to happen. Instead, offensive coordinator Tommy Rees has him situated in a system where he doesn’t need to play at an elite level.
Book can let the offensive line dominate, and the running backs take on the majority of the work for the offense. Notre Dame can – and needs to – accept this is who they are this season, and luckily enough that will be good enough to keep winning.