Going For Two As A Notre Dame Quarterback
When we assembled our cumulative list of Notre Dame’s 25 most important players for the 2020 season this month, there was an easy decision: Fifth-year senior quarterback Ian Book was the unanimous No. 1 pick on all five ballots.
Book came off the bench to spark Notre Dame’s Citrus Bowl win over LSU to cap the 2017 season on a high, took over as the starter in the fourth game of 2018 during the march to the College Football Playoff, and started all 13 games during an 11-2 campaign last year.
In head coach Brian Kelly’s 10 seasons at Notre Dame, Book became only the third signal-caller to start every game during the year, joining his current position coach Tommy Rees (2013) and DeShone Kizer (2016).
In fact, dating back to 2006, his final season at Central Michigan, Kelly has had to turn to a second starter at quarterback during the year 11 out of 14 times. In his 16 years as a head coach at the Football Bowl Subdivision level, he has never had a quarterback start every game two consecutive seasons.
Kizer was the closest when he started the final 11 contests in 2015 after a season-ending injury to Malik Zaire, and followed by starting all 12 during the 4-8 fiasco in 2016. He could have continued that streak in 2017 (and even 2018 for that matter), but opted to turn pro after his junior campaign.
During the seven-year stretch from 2011-17, a different Notre Dame quarterback from the previous season started each opener, and Book made it eight out of nine in 2019.
Injuries, suspensions and demotions have often reared their head at quarterback the past decade. Thus, while there is no mystery as to who is the starter there in 2020, the odds through the years indicate that either sophomore Brendon Clark or freshman Drew Pyne might need to be called upon at some point during the season.
Clark did appear in last year’s blowout home wins versus New Mexico and Bowling Green, totaling 19 snaps, highlighted by a 22-yard touchdown pass to Braden Lenzy and five carries for 33 yards. However, the lack of spring practice because of the coronavirus put everyone’s development behind the curve.
Entering 2020, Book has 16 consecutive starts under his belt after an injury sidelined him for the 2018 Florida State game on Senior Day.
In the previous decade, it was a sharp contrast when it came to consistent starts over multiple years.
From 2003-06, Brady Quinn started a Notre Dame quarterback record 46 consecutive games, shattering the previous mark of 34 straight by Tom Clements from 1972-74. (Rick Mirer started 36 of 37 from 1990-92, missing only the first series versus Purdue in 1991.)
Quinn’s successor, Jimmy Clausen, had 28 starts in a row in 2007-09, including all 25 his final two seasons.
Here are the five with the most starts under Kelly:
Rees (2010-13) — 31 (23-8 record)
Book (2017-present) — 23 (20-3 record)
Everett Golson (2011-14) — 23 (17-6)
Kizer (2014-16) — 23 (12-11)
Brandon Wimbush (2015-18) — 16 (13-3)
Dayne Crist (2010-11) also had 10 starts (4-6), but played one series in one and one half in another.