For those of you who missed last week, go back and read. Great, glad we are all caught up.
Continuing on with the fourth installment, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish travel South to take on the Wake Forest Demon Deacons in the first road game of the season. Following a flat offensive performance by Brandon Wimbush and the Irish the week before, Brian Kelly surrendered to Chip Long’s wishes and inserted Ian Book into the starting lineup. This was considered a very bold move, as he was moving his undefeated starting quarterback to the bench, for a mostly unproven Book. Well. We know how that went.
Notre Dame started off shaky with a fumble on their first drive, but were consistently moving the ball with Book at the helm, who looked confident and precise with the ball. Despite putting up 21 points in the first quarter and a half, the game was still very much in reach for the Demon Deacons. Their offense showed up and with just under 6 minutes left in the first half, the Irish got the ball leading 21-13.
It was third and three at the Irish 32 yard line with 5:56 left in the half. If they do not convert here, they will punt and give Wake a chance to score before the half, closing the gap to a very uncomfortable 21-20 or 21-17. Book lines up and sees a great matchup into the boundary, featuring even numbers and a potential blitz from the outside.
It is tough to tell if this was a perfect call, or if Book recognized the creeping outside linebacker and the standing Rush End. I am going to say he sees it and checked the ball to be a tunnel screen into the boundary, knowing that the defensive end will have to drop into coverage with the linebacker blitzing. This type of blitz forces the defensive end to drop into coverage to take away quick inside throws like slants and hitches. With that in mind, that leaves a corner, safety, and defensive end playing against Alize Mack, Kevin Austin, and speedster Michael Young.
As you can see, the blitz is late to come and the Defensive end was SLOW in getting into coverage, making it virtually 3 on 2, with Michael Young vs. the end in space. That is what we like to call a “favorable” matchup....well maybe THE favorable matchup. Ian Book does something small here, but incredibly momentous for the Irish offense moving forward....He gets the ball out to the perimeter into the hands of a playmaker VERY quickly, something that Wimbush struggled mightily with. Alize Mack makes a great block and Kevin Austin does his part as well creating a lane.
The defensive end never had a chance to get to the outside, and the matchup goes incredibly well, allowing Michael Young to get through the lane and out into the open field. After a great cut and a BIG block coming across the field from Avery Davis, he is off to the races. After cruising through the open field and receiving another devastating block from Miles Boykin, something strange happens....
He walks into the end zone, right? Well no. For some very strange reason he stops and tries to cut back and gets tackles 2 yards short of the goal line. Luckily, Book runs a perfect read option on the next play and runs it in from 2 yards out. This puts the game at a much more comfortable 28-13, and the Irish score once more in the half, pulling away 35-13 before the break.
This was an incredible day for the Irish offense. Yes, they put up 56 points, but they did so with someone who could command the offense and spread the ball around. Ian Book solidified himself as the starter, and began a streak of wins that would put him into the discussion as one of the top quarterbacks in college football.
Thought it should be a different play? Let me know! As this is a new column taking place over the course of the next 12 weeks, I would love any and all feedback, and as always, GO IRISH!