5 Things I Liked: Notre Dame’s Ian Book Delivers Final Lesson to Former Backup

Notre Dame improved to 8-0 on the season yesterday with a 45-31 victory over Boston College. The game was billed as a “revenge” game for former Irish quarterback Phil Jurkovec, but Ian Book stole the show and delivered one final lesson to his former understudy. It wasn’t a perfect effort from Notre Dame, but there was still quite a bit to like.

Jeremiah Owusu Koramoah’s make up speed on Zay Flowers

The Notre Dame defense wasn’t its usual dominant self against an average offense. Still, one play that stood out was Jeremiah Owusu Koramaoh flashing elite make up speed on Boston College’s top wide receiver Zay Flowers.

The pass was a little underthrown, but the fact that JOK was even trusted to cover Boston College’s top WR is remarkable. He is the kind of linebacker that Notre Dame has had to fave over the years who makes a play on a Notre Dame WR, leaving us all saying, how????

I don’t know if there is another linebacker in college football capable of making that same play.

Bennett Skowronek emerging as Notre Dame’s redzone target

The red zone has been a problem for Notre Dame for most of the year. Yesterday, the Irish scored touchdowns on six of their seven real redzone attempts. The biggest reason for that was Bennett Skowronek turning into a damn contested-catch monster against Boston College.

Ian Book threw the ball up for grabs twice for Big Ben and was rewarded with touchdowns on both tries. Skowronek added a third touchdown on a scramble drill – more on this later – to give him the hat trick.

With big receivers like Skowronek and Javon McKinley and tight ends like Michael Mayer and Tommy Tremble, it was remarkable that Notre Dame had struggled as much as they had in the redzone this season. Skowronek’s emergence should only open up the offense in the redzone even more as defenses start to pay more attention to him.

Now can we finally get Javon McKinley his first touchdown of the season when the Irish are back in action in two weeks?

C’bo Flemister running hard and angry again

First off, we need to stop referring to C’bo Flemister as Notre Dame’s “big, power back.” And by we, I mean broadcasters. Flemister is 5’11’, 201 lbs. He’s not a big back. This doesn’t mean that he can’t get tough yards for the Irish, but it’s lazy to say that he’s Notre Dame’s big back. Okay, glad I got that off my chest.

That said, Flemister is proving to be the toughest runner for the Irish this year in large part due to his balance, not his size. Flemister simply bounces off of hopeless defenders and keeps moving forward. He’s not running through people, but he is bouncing off them and refusing to go down easily.

Notre Dame was riding Flemister’s hot hand on Saturday until he got hurt with a leg injury that Brian Kelly later said does not appear serious.

Flemister added a nice catch and run for 27 yards where it looked like he would be tackled at about the 10, but fought for extra yards.

For his efforts, Brian Kelly award Flemister with the game ball.

Ian Book’s movement in the pocket leading to big plays

While elevating his play the last month, one of the most significant improvements in Ian Book’s game has been his escapability and running. Book led Notre Dame in rushing yards on Saturday with 85. He also rushed for his 6th touchdown of the season after notching four in each of the last two seasons.

Book’s efficiency in rushing the ball has led directly to first down conversions and the points with his rushing touchdowns. However, Book’s pocket awareness and escapability have also made the offense more dangerous through the ad-lib plays he is now making in the passing game off the scramble drill.

Earlier in the season, when Book scrambled, his receivers weren’t breaking off their routes and running towards him. That has changed, and Skowronek’s second touchdown was a prime example of that.

Earlier in the year, when Book scrambled, the receivers weren’t coming back to the ball. For someone like Skowronek, part of the transformation has just been getting more experience working with a QB like Book, who is as mobile as he is.

Incorporating Lawrence Keys

This season has not gone the way anyone envisioned it would for Lawrence Keys, but after multiple setbacks, we saw Notre Dame make a concerted effort to get the ball in Keys’ hands against Boston College. He was credited with 2 receptions for 26 yards, but one of the receptions was one of those pop passes that Braden Lenzy typically runs.

Two receptions aren’t usually something to get excited about, but Keys only had one reception all season, and that came in the season opener. In between, Keys missed time with a concussion and was on other game day “unavailable” lists presumably COVID related.

The emergence of McKinley, Skowronek, and Avery Davis over the last month has helped Notre Dame overcome the loss of Kevin Austin, Lenzy, and Keys for much of the season. If Notre Dame can incorporate some of Keys’ speed along with what they’ve been doing so well the last few weeks, this offense can reach another level still.

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  1. Look this kind of thinking that Phil is better is flawed. Overall he is bigger, stronger, and has a better arm. That doesn’t mean he is a better college QB than Book. Right now that is all that matters. Maybe Phil gets drafted and maybe he doesn’t that is still up in the air right now. Book may get drafted, but will be a late round pick. Either way for both has no bearing on this season right now. Book was better than Phil at running the offense. Hard to argue the results as Book wins games. If he wasn’t then yes you make a change. But saying one is better because he might get drafted is really not an argument for who was best suited to lead ND this year. I wish Phil nothing but the best unless ND is playing BC. He did what was right for him and Kelly did what was right for ND. Just how it works sometimes.

    1. Yes…basing one’s assessment on the main physical traits desired in a QB, the proven core assets that most reliably predict potential for success at that position, is pure folly.
      Kelly is a damn genius….and you get that, Jerry.

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