The seasoned Notre Dame quarterback will be returning to the Irish for a fifth year. In back-to-back seasons, Ian Book has led the Irish to the College Football Playoffs and another 11-win season last fall. With the departure of Chip Long and most of the skilled position players, Ian Book will have to lead the capable young offense in 2020.
Ian Book’s 2019 Passing Statistics
- 240 for 399 (60%)
- 3,034 total passing yards
- 34 passing touchdowns with six interceptions
Ian Book’s 2019 Rushing Statistics
- 112 rushing attempts for 546 yards (4.9 yards per carry)
- 2nd on team in total rushing yards
- 4 Rushing Touchdowns
Who will be the next offensive coordinator?
Tommy Rees leading candidate. There have not been many rumors surrounding Chip Long’s replacement for 2020. Former Notre Dame Quarterback, Tommy Rees, has been the clear-cut candidate since the search began. His one-game audition in the Camping World Bowl was respectable, but truly not a large enough sample size.
Notre Dame needs a coordinator that can go toe-to-toe with top defensive minds such as Brent Venables (Clemson), who the Irish will face next year. Coach Kelly has a difficult decision to make in the next few weeks. Is Tommy Rees ready for such a stage? Fans will find out if Brian Kelly believes so in the upcoming weeks, as his search continues.
A few other names have been linked to the OC position. The biggest name that has seen some traction as of late is ex- Mississippi State Head Coach Joe Moorhead. He is one of the best available play-callers in the country, but it’s uncertain whether Coach Kelly would pursue him. Former Notre Dame Assistant, Mike Denbrock, is also a possible candidate. Denbrock has been the OC with Cincinnati the past few seasons.
Key Departures on Offense
The Irish wide receiver was the best player on the field in almost every game last season. Without Claypool, Notre Dame would not have been able to tally 11 victories last fall. In 2019, the Irish standout compiled 66 receptions for 1,037 yards with 13 touchdowns. No other player on the roster was even close in those categories.
Notre Dame’s top tight end, Kmet, had 43 receptions for 515 yards with six touchdowns. Unfortunately, it was in Kmet’s best interest to declare for the NFL Draft. Cole Kmet was a great compliment to Claypool and helped continue the legacy of tight ends at the University.
The former walk-on was third on the team in receptions. His leadership on and off the field will be missed in 2020. Finke totaled 41 receptions, 456 yards, and four touchdowns. Finke’s departure adds to the production that will not be returning for the Irish next year.
Tony Jones Jr. and Ian Book were essentially the entire Notre Dame rushing attack. As Tony Jones Jr. departs, the most experienced Irish running back returning will be Jahmir Smith, who gained 180 rushing yards. The running game was Notre Dame’s biggest vulnerability and will be a point of emphasis this upcoming spring.
Can Ian Book win the big game?
- At Georgia (2019): Book went 29 for 47 with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Considering the circumstances and the fact that Notre Dame only totaled 46 rushing yards, it was a respectable performance.
- At Michigan (2019): Sadly, the game that defined 2019 was the worst showing of the year for Notre Dame and Ian Book in particular. Facing the Wolverines, Ian Book went 8 for 25 through the air. But, in comparison, Shea Patterson only went 6 for 12. Michigan ran for 303 yards, support that Ian Book rarely had during the 2019 campaign.
- At Lambeau vs. Wisconsin: This matchup has the makings to be one of the biggest games of the entire season. Notre Dame is coming off 23-wins the past two years, coupled with the fact that they will be playing on a field named after former Irish star Curly Lambeau.Conversely, Wisconsin is coming off a season in which they played in the Big Ten Championship and Rose Bowl. This matchup will take place in their backyard; like their recent matchup against the LSU Tigers in 2016.
- Clemson (Home) How historic is this clash? Notre Dame fans were already talking about this matchup before the Irish played their bowl game. Whether or not Clemson wins the national title this year, this matchup will have significant College Football Playoff implications.
In recent memory, the Irish have had to travel to play their biggest games of the season (e.g. Georgia and Michigan last year). Not this time around, Brian Kelly will have the help of Touchdown Jesus and Notre Dame Stadium.
Brian Kelly has finally hit his stride in South Bend. The Notre Dame Head Coach has finished the past three seasons with a 33-6 record, including a berth in the College Football Playoffs. Ian Book is the most experienced quarterback returning to South Bend in quite some time.
It’s easy to say, but a national championship will be won or lost in the offseason looking for coaches to replace Chip Long and Todd Lyght. If Coach Kelly can press the right buttons, it may be enough to get Notre Dame back into the playoffs. Just look at the impact of Ed Orgeron hiring Joe Brady from the New Orleans Saints.
Every team in the playoffs this season had a quarterback in the Heisman conversation. Ian Book needs to become that leader for this Notre Dame team in 2020. The Irish have been successful these past several seasons, but the difference between 11-wins and a national championship will be how high Ian Book can raise his level of play and leadership.