Should Notre Dame’s Ian Book Throw More Picks?

In the spring, folks. Should he throw more picks in the spring? It appears that he’s thinking about it.

Following Notre Dame’s opening practice of spring ball, Book spoke to the media and his aggressiveness came up. In response to a question from The Athletic’s Pete Sampson, Book said, “I want to test myself. I want to make those even harder throws in those smaller windows. That’s what it takes to be an elite offense and an elite quarterback. I’m not gonna go too crazy where I’m creating bad habits, I want to push the offense, push the guys, especially the receivers, show them that I can make some of those throws.”

As a general rule in sports, an aggressive player is a winning player. Thinking and caution breeds indecision, which leads to the very mistakes you’re trying to avoid. So, Book forcing himself to make some tougher throws, or throws he wouldn’t normally make in a game, could be a good thing. We don’t know our limits until we test them.

There is a downside, as Book mentions in the quote, of creating bad habits with the ball and with his decisions. There is a line that needs to be walked. And while, this is a good thing generally, is it the right mindset for Book?

Why Taking More Chances In The Spring Is A Good Thing

Book talked about taking the offense to the next level, and presumably he meant be more of a downfield passing team. Last season Notre Dame ranked 37th in explosiveness according to S&P+, largely due to Dexter Williams and the running game ripping off huge plays. Notre Dame was 84th nationally in passing plays of 40 or more with just 7, a couple of those coming with Brandon Wimbush at quarterback, and their longest passing play was a screen to Michael Young. Notre Dame needs to get more going vertically, especially with Williams moving on the NFL and no obvious big play threat in the backfield.

The conventional wisdom following the season was Notre Dame simply didn’t have the athletes to push the ball down the field the way other teams did, but that argument has been upended by Miles Boykin testing like some kind of cyborg at the combine over the weekend. A 6-3 receiver with a 43 inch vertical who runs a 4.42 forty should be making some plays behind the defense.

So yeah, air it out Ian Book. Obviously, there are chances to take that need to be taken and you can’t get good at something unless you practice it, and if you throw a pick in practice against your teammates, so what? Book completed 68% of his passes last season, that accuracy isn’t going away. He should trust he’s got that ability on the tougher throws as well as the easier ones.

Why Taking More Chances Is A Bad Thing

Was the problem with Book as a quarterback that he didn’t take enough chances or that he wasn’t sure where the ball needed to be going, especially when he was under pressure. We saw Book take chances from a clean pocket. Not so much when people were in his face, and I’m not sure I want him thinking big play as opposed to getting the ball to the right person in those situations.

In fairness to Book, he did mention getting the ball out and on time to the right receiver early in his press conference when asked generally what he wanted to improve on from last season. If that is his mindset, it is probably the right one. Knowing where to go with the ball is the most important part of being quarterback, just in front of accuracy. And Book has the accuracy down, but his recognition needs work. That’s what should be his focus. Being confident in his reads will breed confidence in his game which allows you to make the throws he needs to make in key moments.

Is it more likely he missed a throw to Boykin in the Cotton Bowl because he was tentative or because he wasn’t sure that’s where the ball should go? Did he not makes throws because he couldn’t or he didn’t know who’d be open? Book has been lauded for his confidence and cool head under pressure from the moment he stepped onto the field against Wake. It’s more likely to me his issue is confusion and less not trusting his arm to make a key pass. Fixing the mental part will fix the physical part.

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  1. NO Why? Twelve and 0 last year and one bad game. He was deadly accurate. He just needs the line to step up and give better protection against good teams.

  2. Book simply needs to work on his downfield passing. Everything else is pretty much in line but we need bigger plays downfield. Clemson knew Book couldn’t go deep and exploited that. I do agree that making better decisions under pressure with better accuracy is something he could work on too but honestly, isn’t this something every QB HAS to work on? I looked back at some of the games this year and one other thing I would like to see from Book is instead of running basically straight to the sideline when trying to run from pressure, to try and actually get upfield for some yards and take a hit or two occasionally. I watched the VT game and there was one play where Book rolls left and escapes the pocket and is running to the sideline with only one single LB chasing him across the field. There is literally like 20 yards of green behind the LB and instead of putting on the brakes and letting the LB fly right by and getting upfield, he just trots out of bounds for a 0 yard gain or may have even been a short loss. In those situations, I’d like to see him be more aggressive with his running like Wimbush was and how Jurkovec will be. I understand there are situations where you just need to get out of bounds but typically that is when you are gaining yards, not where you aren’t gaining anything and or taking a loss. Just throw the ball away if you are going to do that.

    I still think Jurkovec needs to be the starter regardless but I do think he needs to win that job rather than it just be given to him based on being a better recruit out of HS. The tape does show some pretty incredible skills from both a passing (especially downfield) and running ability. I’m hoping he steps up and wins it because I feel he does have the higher ceiling than Book and will be better for this team.

    And the article mentions, “no obvious big play threats in the backfield”…I completely disagree with this. Did people not see Jafar Armstrong’s big play ability last year?? I’m not saying he is the next Dexter Williams or Josh Adams but the big play potential is definitely there. And not only from a running standpoint but a receiving standpoint as well which we saw in one of the games where he caught many passes downfield out of the backfield. I’m excited to see Jafar as the featured back this season. I think he goes off!!

  3. Jurkovic should win the starting QB job this spring. At least that’s what I would hope would happen. The 5 star guy should unseat the 3 star guy. Book is not the difference maker this offense needs.

      1. Jeff,

        I keep wondering this myself considering Wimbush’s running abilities and stronger arm. This could have come in handy against a Clemson/Bama. It would have kept the defense more honest in my opinion. Higher risk with the accuracy but higher reward with the “bigger” play abilities.

      2. WIMBUSH had poor footwork , a slow long release and no accuracy. He was given a more than enough time to practice and play to correct those issues , which he could not!! Defenses exposed him in the last 3 games of the 17″ season, and the start of this past season! After the first half of these games teams adjusted to his running and forced him to throw the ball, which he could not! The offense shut down against MICH, VANDY, and BALL ST in the second half of all those games and the defense was there thankfully to hold on and win those games. Even the game he started against FLA ST. he threw 2 ints. on the first 2 drives of the 2nd half!! BOOK is just an avg. QB, but the offense took off when he took over.

      3. NDCM,

        Book had Wimbush-like stats his last four games. Go look.

        Michigan and Clemson were talked about the best defenses in the country right? Wimbush had better numbers against Michigan than Book did against Clemson. Wimbush scored 24 points against Michigan without Dexter Williams. Ian Book scored 3 points against Clemson with Dexter Williams.

        I’m not saying that it wasn’t the right move to play Book but I’m saying it would have been interesting to see what the dynamic of Wimbush could have done against Clemson considering when Wimbush was “on” and the coaches actually called a great gameplan for Wimbush (e.g. Michigan – success), he can make the big plays ND lacked during this game.

      4. MICHIGANS DEF was nowhere near as good as CLEMSONS!! LOOK what OHIO STATE did to MICHIGANS defense!! OHIO ST scored 62 pts on MICH. , then MICHIGANS DEF. let up 41 pts to FLORIDA in the PEACH BOWL!! Ask ALABAMA how good CLEMSONS DEF. was, TUA threw a pick six and 2 other ints.!! TUA was a HIESMAN FINALIST, WIMBUSH was a back-up!! Lets look ahead not back!!

      5. NDCM,

        Kelly”s inability to recruit and play a top tier QB has cost ND. Last years team was good enough to win a National Championship in every area but QB. Oklahoma, Clemson, and Alabama had far superior QBs than Notre Dame. Jurkovik maybe is the answer. Book is not. Wimbush is not either but still think ND would’ve run the table with him in there at least until the Clemson game. Kelly made the right call. Are you not that same guy who thought Zaire should start over Kizer?

      6. NDCM,

        All I’m saying is Clemson played two teams with QBs with no real running threat like Wimbush would have brought to the table. Remember, Tua doesn’t run. However, you mentioned Tua throwing a pick-six but the very next drive he drops a dime on a bomb downfield for a TD. There’s no way Ian Book could have made that throw downfield as he lacks the arm strength. Brandon Wimbush definitely could have made that throw. Book is the more accurate, smarter passer. Wimbush was the “big play” QB. We could have used that in the Clemson game.

      7. JEFF I AM NOT the guy who said ZAIRE SHOULD START AHEAD OF KISER!!! BUT I AM THE GUY WHO SAID IF KISER STAYED ANOTHER YEAR WE WOULD HAVE BEAT GEORGIA ( after having 6 possesions inside GEORGIAS 35 yard line and came away with 1 td the whole game ) and had a experienced QB for the MIAMI and STANFORD games which WIMBUSH was overmatched in!! KISERS THE BEST QB WEVE HAD IN YEARS!! IM not building up BOOK, IM just saying you guys are really reaching if you think WIMBUSH would’ve done a better job against CLEMSON when he could not solve VANDY and BALL STS DEFENSES after the 1st qrtrs of those games!! CHRIS J , I KNOW HOW STRONG WIMBUSHES ARM IS BUT IN 2 YEARS HE NEVER CAME CLOSE TO BEING ACCURATE, IN FACT HE UNDERTHREW MORE PASSES THAN OVEROVERTHREW!! OHIO ST AND GEORGIA HAD A BETTER QB THAN ND, AND THE LIST CAN GO ON BUT LET GO OF WIMBUSH SAVING THE DAY PLEASE!!

      8. NDCM,

        I don’t disagree with what you’re saying. Book came in and excelled better than what most of us thought he would. Book did benefit from the arrival of Dexter who was suspended for most of his collegiate career. I believe Wimbush would’ve also benefitted from that but I cant argue with the job Book did. He was outstanding and led ND to the playoffs. My biggest complaint is with the staffs inability to bring in a top shelf true dual threat QB. I think it is whats needed to win a title for ND.

  4. Have you seen the upcoming schedule? Notre Dame screwed by the ACC once again with most opponents coming off a bye week.

  5. Looking forward to this year.

    Would like to see the O-line protect him better and let’s have a consistent running game. It seems like when a RB gets on a roll, he’s not given the rock more.

    Want to see more production on special teams.

    Want to see better game prep so that the Irish are faster and more physical. Want better in-game adjustments when things aren’t going well.

    Do not want to see the Irish struggle against lesser teams.

    12-0 was awesome, but there is plenty of room for improvement.

    Go Irish!

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