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Notre Dame Football: Ian Book’s Success Rate Saturday Was Ridiculously Good

Using a Bill Connelly metric to quantify Ian Book’s performance versus the Wake Forest Demon Deacons

Ian Book
Mike Miller/One Foot Down

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish were already leading 35-13 over the Wake Forest Demon Deacons in the third quarter of Saturday’s game when something truly impressive happened.

On 2nd-and-10 from the Deacons’ 42-yard-line, Jafar Armstrong ran up the gut for a 28 yard gain. It was the first of 12 consecutive plays in which the Irish’s offense, led by Ian Book, had a successful outcome.

How is success defined?

For this piece, we’re going to use Bill Connelly’s metric:

The goal of success rate is to create an on-base percentage-style efficiency measure. Depending on a given down and distance, each play is deemed successful or non-successful:

First downs: gaining at least 50 percent of necessary yardage (usually 5 yards) is successful.

Second downs: gaining at least 70 percent of necessary yardage is successful.

Third or fourth downs: gaining at least 100 percent of necessary yardage is successful.

Check out this sequence after the Armstrong run:

Play #53: Book runs for 11 on 1st and 10 on the Deacons’ 14 yardline.
Play #54: Armstrong runs for 2 yards on 1st and goal from the Deacons’ 3 yardline.
Play #55: Armstrong scores a touchdown on 2nd-and-1 from the Deacons’ 1 yardline. Notre Dame 42, Wake Forest 13.
Play #56: Book to Chase Claypool for 35 yards on first 1st and 10 from the Deacons’ 47 yardline.
Play #57: Avery Davis runs right for 7 yards on 1st and 10 from the Deacons’ 12 yardline.
Play #58: Book runs right, scores from the Deacons’ 2 yard line on first and goal. Notre Dame 49, Wake Forest 13.
Play #59: Davis runs right for 7 yards on 1st and 10 from the Irish’s 25 yardline.
Play #60: Davis runs for 3 yards on 2nd and 3 from the Irish 32. Fourth quarter begins.
Play #61: Book runs for 6 yards on 1st and 10 from the Irish 35.
Play #62: Book to Kevin Austin for 6 yards and a first down on 2nd and 4 at the Irish 41.
Play #63: Book to Austin (again) for 29 yards and a first down on 1st and 10 from the Irish 47.


The Irish ran 76 plays on Saturday, of which 46 — or 60.5 percent — met Connelly’s criteria for success. Removing the seven plays run by Phil Jurkovec, Ian Book’s success rate was 44 of 69, or 63.8 percent. That’s absurdly good.

In addition to the Book-led offense’s sequence of 12 successful plays, it also had a 10-play sequence earlier in the game. Brandon Wimbush pieced together separate sequences of 8 and 9 consecutive successful plays during the 49-14 win over the USC Trojans in 2017, his best ever effort.

Book has now been under center for 275 plays for the Irish. Here’s a comparison to how he stacks up vs. Wimbush’s first 275 plays and Wimbush’s career tallies:

Success rate, Book vs. Wimbush

Quarterback Book (career) Wimbush (first 275 snaps) Wimbush (career)
Quarterback Book (career) Wimbush (first 275 snaps) Wimbush (career)
First down success rate 44.9% 43.5% 43.4%
Second down success rate 53.8% 38.9% 37.9%
Third down success rate 40.0% 41.4% 43.2%
Fourth down success rate 71.4% 66.7% 56.3%
Overall success rate 47.6% 41.8% 41.8%

Connelly said the national average for college quarterbacks is around 43 percent.

Connelly’s success rate numbers are adjusted for opponent, whereas mine are not. So while this is not an apples-to-apples comparison, here are some college career success rates for past quarterbacks:


Here is the updated spreadsheet for Irish quarterbacks since 2000 who have eclipsed 275 snaps. (Pat Dillingham no longer qualifies. Too bad!)

This was Wimbush’s 275th play:

One play later, Dexter Williams would scoot 14 yards to extend the Irish’s lead over the Spartans to 24-7 with about 4:47 remaining in the second quarter. Wimbush was 9-of-15 for 110 yards and a touchdown at halftime.

If you can recall, compare how you felt then about Wimbush to how you feel now about Book. Are you more hopeful for Book than you were then for Wimbush? Or less? And why?

Leave your impressions in the comments.