Just crazy! That just about explains what happened in the Fighting Irish fan base leading up to Saturdays game against Wake Forest. Thursday afternoon a flurry of Irish fan pages started filling with discussions about Ian Book. The discussion surrounded his possible start on Saturday. The discussion came to a quick end when Book came out with the first team on the opening drive. As they say, the rest is history.
Book came in well prepared for the Wake Forest game. The offensive line came prepared as well. Executing with focus and discipline that been missing in the previous three games. The defense despite a few miscues, played stout once again. The special teams did their part as well. A solid sixty minutes of Fighting Irish football.
The first quarter was not the typical first quarter for the Fighting Irish. First major difference. The QB position. Enter Ian Book. After much talk, Book gets the start against Wake Forest. Book opened with a 12 yard pass, to Alize Mack. Coming out passing is not a bad way to start. Another difference was that the Irish did not score on their opening drive. That’s a first for the season. The defense also held serve as they forced a three and out against the Deacons. After an Irish fumble at the 6:00 minute mark, the Deacons put the Irish in a deficit for the first time this season.
The deficit didn’t take long to erase. After a pass to Avery Davis for six yards, three consecutive passes of 8, 9, and 24 yards to Mack, Jafar Armstrong scampers 30 yards to put the Irish on the board. The Irish offense was alive and on a mission. The defense once again prevailed in the bend don’t break mentality.
To start the second quarter possession, Book was prepared and it showed. Of the ten plays on the Irish ran to start the second quarter, 2 were rushes, one incomplete pass, and seven complete passes including a TD pass to Brock Wright. The Fighting Irish had gotten back their “Fight”.
Special teams did their part as well. Finke, showed his athleticism by returning the ball 52 yards to the Wake Forest 4 yard line. Two plays later Tony Jones Jr, finds the end zone for the Irish.
Halfway through the quarter, the Irish defense showed signs of undisciplined play. Two penalties occurred in the drive. Each time the defense had the Deacons stopped. The penalties eventually led to Wake Forest putting the ball in the end zone.
The Irish would respond quickly to the score of the Deacons. In four plays the Irish drove 75 yards. 66 of those yards came on a bubble screen pass from Book to Michael Young. Book finished the drive with a two yard “BookKeeper.”
Late in the quarter, Wake Forest is on a tenacious drive. The Irish defense stops the drive and forces Wake Forest to attempt a field goal. On the attempt Wake Forest misses, the defense gets called for roughing the kicker. The ball advances five yards. Wake Forest takes another attempt from 38 yards and hits the left upright as time expired. Undisciplined football by the Irish defense once again.
The Irish defense definitely made some adjustments at the half. No penalties for the third quarter. The offense however, was running a clinic on play execution. Each of the Irish drives ended with points in the end zone. Book was 4-6 including a 30 yard pass to Tony Jones Jr and a 35 yard pass to Chase Claypool . The Irish were scoring at will as well. Late in the quarter, the Deacons score on a QB keeper from 23 yards out.
DRIVE! That’s what the Irish did on this day. Once again a first possession of the quarter puts the Irish in the end zone. Once again, Book finished the drive with a one yard “BookKeeper” to put the Irish up 56-20.
With the game in hand, Coach Kelly is able to put in some young guys to get some game time. Though the Deacons score on a 6:34 drive, they chewed significant time off the clock.
Another young player gets to see some game time as well. Enter Phil Jurkovec. With the new NCAA rules Jurkovec can make appearances in four games. Though his first pass is incomplete, he does squeak out a seven yard run.
In the end your Fighting Irish beat Wake Forest 56-27 to improve to 4-0.
🏈🏈🏈 Ian Book-Coming off the bench and putting up some solid numbers. 25-34 for 325 yards, 3 rushing and 2 passing TDs, and a QB rating of 173.2
🏈🏈 Jafar Armstrong-98 yards on 8 attempts, 2 rushing TDs, and 15 yards receiving
🏈Alohi Gilman-Another defensive player stepping up. 6 solo tackles, racking up 9 total.
What We Learned
Ian Book can play, and that the offense can play focused and disciplined football.
What Can Be Done Better
Defense though stout and disciplined. Needs to not commit penalties on crucial downs. One drive in the second quarter, two penalties occurred when Wake Forest was stopped that led to a touchdown.
Next up for the Irish is the #7 Stanford Cardinal. Saturday evening a 7:30 PM kick-off on NBC. Both teams come in undefeated. Stanford survived a close one with Oregon after trailing most of the game. The Irish offense and defense will have to play at higher level in this affair.