After a slow start to the season, Notre Dame football’s Ian Book has fought his way back into the Heisman race with a red-hot month.
The start Ian Book had to the 2020 season was less than ideal. Sure, his Irish were 4-0 but he had just had one of his worst games as Notre Dame’s starter, passing for just 106 yards and no touchdowns in a 12-7 snoozer against Louisville.
In four games, he had just three touchdown passes and an interception to go along with 714 yards passing and 126 rushing yards and five more scores. He looked like a run-first quarterback who didn’t have the trust of his coaching staff to pass the ball. Tommy Rees seemed to call plays that played to his running ability rather than his arm.
And people seemed to forget the type of player Book was when the Irish made the playoff just two years earlier. He was one of the brightest young dual-threats in the nation.
And then something just clicked after that ugly win over Louisville. After hearing all the talk about “maybe Phil Jurkovec was the better option”, Book went off.
He passed for 312 yards and three touchdowns against Pitt, adding another 40 yards on the ground. He had 245 total yards and a touchdown in a comfortable road win over Georgia Tech and then Book pulled a rabbit out of his hat, throwing for 310 yards and a touchdown while rushing for another 67 in an overtime win over No. 1 Clemson.
Just like that, Book was back in the Heisman conversation.
Adding to that improving 2020 resume, Book passed for 283 yards and three touchdowns while completing 20-of-27 passes against Jurkovec and Boston College. He out-dueled his former backup and led the Irish with 85 rushing yards and another touchdown.
Notre Dame is now 8-0 with a lot of credit heading Book’s way.
In his last four games, he has 1,104 yards and eight touchdowns with no interceptions and 233 rushing yards and another score. He looks like a completely different player and confidence seems to have a lot to do with that. The staff has trusted him more with his arm and he’s responded with one of the best stretches of his career.
Although he may not be a top-three Heisman contender at any point for the remainder of the season (Mac Jones, Justin Fields, Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson and Kyle Trask are playing out of their minds), he has earned himself some recognition for the first time since the preseason.
If Book can close out the 2020 season strong and lead the Irish to the playoff, he may be a top-five candidate by the time the ceremony rolls around.
Give this kid credit for not quitting after a bumpy start.