During my first season of covering ND Football, I became more engaged in conversations about players past and present. Football fans and sports media outlets always try and compare an athlete from the past to an athlete in today’s game. The hard part of doing a true comparison between athletes now and then, comes down to how the game was played. The rules of the 1970’s fail in comparison to the way the game is played today.
Activities like strength and conditioning, analytics, and the way players prepare is extremely different as well. I am not even going to dive into the distractions of social media and other off the field distractions. It’s fun having a conversation with folks and reminiscing about the 70’s and how a certain player can take them back in time to and think of the their “glory days” at Notre Dame. The mid 70’s saw a young Joe Montana move in and out of the line-up, and as they say, “the rest is history.”
Joe Montana’s First Chance
There is a moment in which Joe Montana gets his call from Coach Dan Devine. It’s in a game versus Purdue. Going into that game Joe (a Junior) is listed as the third-string quarterback. Rusty Lisch was struggling in the third game of the season and Coach Devin calls on Gary Forstyek. Forstyek goes down with a broken vertebra, broken clavicle and a concussion. Coach Devine put Lisch back in, but then he ultimately called on Montana to finish the game. Steve Orsini (Fullback 1975-1977) recalled the game and how it went down. Orsini recalls Montana as a talented athlete, great person, a teammate they loved, but his competitive nature, the great one’s have that.” “In that huddle we knew he had that he just had the ability, if we did our job, he just thrived in that moment.”
Joe Montana had a fantastic Junior season off the bench. Montana delivered a 99-189, 52.4% Completion Rate, 1,604 Yards Passing, 11 Passing TD’s, 8 INT’s, 6 Rushing TD’s, 32 Rushing Yards and a QB Rating of 134.4. That year The Fighting Irish went to Texas and defeated the top ranked Texans in the Cotton Bowl 38-10.
Montana’s career at Notre Dame tallied 268-515, 52% Completion Rate, 4,121 Passing Yards, 25 Passing TD’s, 25 INT’s, 14 Rushing TD’s, 131 Rushing Yards, and a QB Rating of 125.6.
Ian Book Gets His Chance
This past season, there was a switch at the quarterback position. After starting the season 3-0, Coach Kelly made a change for the game against Wake Forest. Ian Book moved up on the depth chart from number two to number one. This move ushered in the Ian Book era. The 6’0″, 203 pound Junior from El Dorado Hills, CA , took full advantage of his first start. As a follower of ND football, you couldn’t ask for more than Ian delivered in his first game. Book delivered a 25-34, 73.5% Completion Rate, 325 Yards Passing, 2 Passing TD’s, 3 Rushing TD’s, and 43 Rushing yards. Book also tallied a 173.2 QB rating in his first game. In his first game, Book showed he was a leader and a super competitor like Joe Montana before him.
Ian Book As A Leader
After the Stanford game in the post game conference, The was an opportunity to ask Ian a question:
Shake Down The Thunder Sports Question: “Coach a couple of weeks ago Coach Kelly talked about this team’s identity was still being built. Last week you guys built on that with you starting as quarterback. Your second week in, what would you say that this team’s identity is starting to be?”
Ian’s Response: “We just want to be an elite offense. I know that one thing we were talking about through the first couple of games was having such a great first half and then kind of letting go the second half. So week in, week out, in our preparation we just want to keep scoring points as an offense, don’t let go.”
Steve Orsini eluded in the video to as to what the “great ones” act like and talk like. Much the same can be said about Ian Book. Setting the bar high for himself and expecting out of himself what he expects of other speaks volumes about his competitiveness and his role as a leader of this team.
Book Junior Year Stats
Ian Book’s Junior season was just impressive as Montana’s back in 1977. Book’s final numbers for the 2018 season are as follows: 214-314, 68.2% Completion Rate, 2,628 Yards Passing, 19 Passing TD’s, 4 Rushing TD’s, and 280 Rushing yards. Book completed his Junior season with a 153..97 QB rating. On an interesting note Ian also piloted his team to the 2018 Cotton Bowl in Texas against the Clemson Tigers. Unfortunately the Irish did not have the same result as Montana’s team did. The Irish fell 30-3 and did not advance to the National Championship game.
While Joe Montana’s career lives on as “The GOAT”, Ian Book still has another whole season to define his career at Notre Dame. There is still a whole season of “Spring Ball and Summer Ball” ahead for Ian to go through. Time will tell us if Ian Book is Joe Montana 2.0. For now, the most important thing for Ian to do is to focus on the 2019 season and get the team back to College Football Playoffs, and ultimately a National Championship title. As players have said in the past, “they didn’t come to Notre Dame for individual awards, they came to Notre Dame to win a National Championships.”
Cheers and Go Irish! ☘🏈⚡