ND Football: Re-Writing The “Book” Against Syracuse

Ian Book made history in Saturday’s game against Syracuse. Book became the all-time winningest QB at Notre Dame. That is no easy feat to do. 30-3, that is a more than respectable record for a Notre Dame Quarterback. In doing so, Book leaped over a pretty impressive group of Notre Dame greats. He passed Brady Quinn, Ron Powlus & Tom Clements. Book also tied Tony Rice’s home record of 15-0 at Notre Dame Stadium. Saturday’s game was about playing the game against Syracuse, but also prepping for the ACC Championship. Though the start wasn’t crisp, the final score is what was important.

First Quarter

The Irish offensive line is still adjusting to to life without Jarrett Pattersen. Zeke Correll who started last week did not start this week at Center. Josh Lugg moved over to Center and Dillan Gibbons filled in at Right Guard on Senior Day. The Fighin’ Irish first drive had a couple of incomplete passes, but for the most part the Irish playmakers were able to run and catch the ball when called upon. The big play of the drive cam on third and seven. Book goes through hisd progressions and finds “Big” Ben Skowronek for twenty nine yards to Book’s left hand side. The Irish drive was stalled at the SU07. The Irish walked away with three points on the Jonathan Doerer twenty five yard Field Goal to put the Irish up 3-0.

The Irish Defense did what they do best. Get in the head of the opposing QB and shutdown the running game. On the two possession’s that Syracuse had the ball, the defense allowed eighty five total yards of offense, ten yards via the rush and seventy five through the air. Despite the sluggish start for the Fightin’ Irish offense, Syracuse was only on the field for 5:03. If your opponent is not on the field, they can’t score.

Book was 9-12, 100 yards passing, and 5 yards rushing,

Second Quarter

The second quarter saw the Fightin’ Irish defense on their heels on Syracuse’s first possession of the quarter. The ‘Cuse figured a way to exploit the Irish defense through the air and on then ground. Though they scored on a eighteen yard TD pass from Rex Culpepper to Anthony Quelley to go up 7-3, they poked the bear and the bear wasn’t happy. That bear was unforgiving from that point forward. The next possession for ‘Cuse ended after the defense forced a three and out.

After the three and out by the defense, the offense stepped up in a big way with the assistance of of the ‘Cuse defense. After having the Irish stopped at the ND28, a fifteen yard penalty for roughing the passer, the offense capitalized on the opportunity. An eighteen yard pass to Tommy Tremble, and eleven yard pass to Javon McKinley, on the “BookKeeper” Ian finds the end zone on the end of a twenty eight yard TD run. The Irish reclaim the lead 10-7.

Notre Dame’s Ian Book runs for a first down in the No. 2 Notre Dame-Syracuse matchup inside Notre Dame Stadium.
Photo Courtesy ACC Media Portal

Remember when you poke a bear, it’s not a good thing. Two consecutive penalties for the Orange, put them at the SU15 to start the drive. the drive culminates for the Orange when Culpepper is sacked by Myron Tagovailoa-Amosa and forces a fumble which is recovered by Marist Liufau. Setting the Irish up on the SU21. Book finds Javon McKinley on a twenty one yard TD pass on the first down. That’s fourteen unanswered points by the Fightin’ Irish. The Irish go up 17-7.

The ND Defense is still annoyed about the TD and they refuse to let the Orange do anything. Syracuse has the ball for only :52 and three plays and they are punished again by the Irish Offense. Book goes pass to Michael Mayer for five yards, Kyren Williams for fourteen yards, Skowronek for twenty one yards, before finding McKinley again for a twenty eight yard TD pass. That drive was 6 plays, 68 yards, 0:32. The unanswered points margin is 21. The Irish go into the locker room with a 24-7 lead at the half.

The first half stats are all in the Irish favor. 311 Total Yards to Syracuse’s 174, Book was 21-29 for 252 yards, and a rushing TD.

Third Quarter

The third quarter starts strong for the ND Defense. On third and three, Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah forces a fumble and Tagovailoa recovers for the Irish on the SU42. The saying “the Lord giveth and he taketh away” definitely come to mind here. The next play there is a bad exchange between Lugg and Book forcing a fumble and a Syracuse recovery. Five plays later, Syracuse scores on a forty yard rush to bring the score to 24-14.

After Book throws an interception and Syracuse takes over “Wu” recovers a fumble forced by Ade Ogundeji. No harm no foul on the fumble by Book. Book would make up for the fumble on the ensuing drive. After a ground attack by Williams, and Book, Book would score his second rushing TD on the afternoon. This time from seventeen yards out. The Irish go up 31-14.

Syracuse is starting to have a turnover problem. Culpepper is intercepted by Daelin Hayes and takes it to the SU33. Though the Irish don’t score, Syracuse cant get it going. After going three out courtesy of the Irish Defense, The Irish find the end zone again. Book connects with McKinley for the third TD pass of the day. This time from twenty six yards out. The Irish cushion their lead 38-14 late in the quarter.

Fourth Quarter

After both Syracuse is forced to punt twice, and ND once, Chris Tyree put the game out of reach for Syracuse. Tyree takes the the hand off and explodes for ninety four yards. But Syracuse doesn’t want to just rollover. They score on an equally impressive run of eighty yards to set a final score of 45-21.

The Wrap Up

Book accounted for five touchdowns against Syracuse. Three passing and two rushing. With Book’s rushing touchdowns, he passed Everett Golson and Joe Montana who had fourteen. He also passed Paul Hornung who had fifteen and moves solely into fourth place with sixteen.

Javon McKinley had three TD receptions which is a career high, which happened to be his first touchdowns of the season. He is also the second player besides Skowronek to have three receiving touchdowns in a game.

Notre Dame’s Javon McKinley makes a leaping touchdown catch in the second half of the No. 2 Notre Dame-Syracuse matchup inside Notre Dame Stadium. Photo Courtesy of ACC Media

Chris Tyree’s ninety four yard run, is the second longest touchdown behind Josh Adams who had a ninety eight yard run his freshman season.

The Irish Defense forced three, three and outs on Syracuse, aiding to fourteen points on turnovers.

Coach Kelly Press Conference

“I’d like to start with how we got here. We wouldn’t have gotten here without the vision that Father
John Jenkins had for opening up our university. I want to start with thanking him for giving us this opportunity to play. Provost Miranda, coming up with a great academic plan for our guys to be able to play football, and if we didn’t have academics, we wouldn’t be playing football. Our executive VP, Shannon Cullinan, put together a Houdini of a financial plan to make this work. This was an extremely
expensive plan in so many ways. My boss, our vice president, athletic director Jack Swarbrick, who was there
daily supporting us and giving us all the resources necessary to compete during this very difficult time.”

“Our VP for campus safety, Mike Seamon, who implemented a comprehensive safety plan and testing, and as equally important, Dr. Matt Leiszler, who oversaw the daily testing. And then Rob Hunt, who heads up our training, the care and custody, our athletic trainer Rob Hunt has the incredible task of following this virus daily with our student-athletes and the care and custody that he showed during this time was amazing.”

“Our support staff that wears many hats, just in here today, not only do they handle social media but they serve breakfast to us on the road, a support staff that’s just so committed to seeing our football team succeed this year.”

“To my coaches that had to deal with starts and stops and a flexible mindset to do that, and 4:00 a.m. texts as to whether what the roster looks like each and every day. And then finally, incredible players that have had to commit themselves and sacrifice all year to be here and then have an undefeated season. So I’m so proud of them. Blessed to be their head football coach and was so happy for them to go undefeated this year.”

“All those people that made it happen, we wouldn’t be here without them.”

Media Questions

Media Question: “Could you talk a little bit about the play of Ian Book today, what you saw in his eyes before the game, what
you saw during the game, and just what he does for your football team?”

Coach Kelly Response: “Well, he accounted for five touchdowns, so five times six, 30 points. If he could kick, we should work on trying to get him to be a kicker, too. Counting for five touchdowns, great leader, you know, he just continues to get better each and every week. He’ll probably tell you it wasn’t his “A” game. It was probably a game where he played good. He wants to play better. But that’s the great part about him. He hasn’t played his best game yet in his eyes, but he still accounted for five touchdowns and threw some great balls.”

“I mean, McKinley played really well for us, Kyron Williams obviously ran the ball, and I thought we started running the ball much better. They were extremely aggressive. We had to dig out some safeties and extra hats that were rotating down that were hard to get to early on. We were able to fit them up a little bit later in the game and run the ball a little bit more effectively, but it allowed Ian some opportunities in the passing game earlier, and I thought he took advantage of it.”

Media Question: “Could you break down what your schedule will be here for the next couple weeks as you prepare for the ACC Championship game and then also your thoughts on Mike Collins, wrapping up his tenure as the PA announcer and being a fixture at Notre Dame Stadium over the years?”

Coach Kelly Response: “Yeah, our schedule will be Sunday. Normally they are off. That’s their day off, so they will come into the training room. We’ll have victory meal with them tomorrow afternoon. Monday we’ll come in and we’ll weight train and meet with them on a graded film from Syracuse, and then Tuesday they’re off. Wednesday we’ll bring them in and weight train again and then scouting report, walk-through for Clemson, so it will be very light on Wednesday. And then Thursday, Friday, Saturday we’ll begin a three-day additional preparation for Clemson. Sunday off, Monday, we’ll begin the game week preparation leading into the championship game.”

“Yeah, I mean, it’s — I got here in 2010 and Mike Collins was already a fixture here in terms of PA announcer. So I’ve kind of learned about Mike each year. I’ve got an easy name to pronounce, so he always pronounced my name pretty well, but I didn’t know that this was kind of part of the whole legacy here. It’s been fun to listen to him, and him being part of this history here at Notre Dame. We wish him the best in retirement, and the next up will be somebody, I’m sure, interesting and we’ll have a new legacy to talk about.”

Ian Book Press Conference

Media Question: “On what it means to be the all-time winningest quarterback in Notre Dame history”

Ian’s Response: “It’s a dream come true just to be able to attend Notre Dame and have a good career. To be able to have this be my last home game and step back for a second and to never have lost at home.
it is really a team award though rather than an individual award. I’m just really thankful to be part
of this special team. I probably didn’t think that, honestly.”

“When I stepped foot on campus I just really wanted to work hard and become the starter whenever that may be and now we’re here today. It really just means a lot. I couldn’t have done it by myself, there’s a lot of people who have helped get me to this point. When I got here, all I wanted to do was just play quarterback – I wasn’t thinking about breaking any records, or never losing at home. Again, it’s just a special, special night.”

Media Question: “On the ability to lead the team to two undefeated regular seasons”

Ian’s Response: “First off, it shows this team’s got grit and is tough. There was a time we didn’t even know if we were going to play with Coronavirus. We join a conference (the ACC), which nobody’s done at
Notre Dame, and just a lot of unexpected things and this team just never shied away. We put in
the work that was necessary and here we are undefeated as we joined a conference and are
headed into the Championship Game.”

“It just shows this team has grit, never gave up, never flinched and to have two undefeated (regular) seasons is just doing what Coach (Brian) Kelly has asked – he always says ‘protect the house’ – so that’s one thing and we’ve been able to do that. Just fight for every win – we’ve been down, we’ve been up – this team just never shies away so it’s a special team and you don’t always say that, but this team is just special.”

Media Question: “On walking off the field for the final time”

Ian’s Response: “Bittersweet, definitely a little emotional but I just took it all in. I definitely took a step back and just embraced everything. It’s been an unbelievable journey. I remember my first day on campus
and now I’ll never forget my last game in the Stadium. My family has been in my corner since I
was born and they’ve always motivated me to work hard. It’s unbelievable that they could all be
here tonight, I really appreciate them never missing a game other than the Boston College
game. It’s who I wanted here and they were able to make it and it makes that moment more
special.”

Media Question: “On how he wants to be remembered by fans”

Ian’s Response: “I want to win a national championship and if you hear my name, that is what you think of. We still have to go do that, so that’s what I want (Notre Dame fans to remember about me).”

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