Notre Dame Quarterbacks & The Captaincy
For the record, Notre Dame senior quarterback Ian Book confirmed this weekend upon being selected as one of a school-record tying seven captains that he has never received any speeding tickets.
The question was prompted after head coach Brian Kelly noted that Book likely would not receive such negative citations because “he doesn’t live on the edge.”
For Book, whose No. 17 pass efficiency rating (154.0) nationally in 2018 was the highest in Kelly’s nine seasons with the Fighting Irish, it was received as a badge of honor, as it should after helping Notre Dame to the four-team College Football Playoff.
“I like it because it shows I like to be efficient, move the ball down the field … do whatever I can to lead this offense,” Book said.
That’s not to say that off the main college football highway, Book isn’t now attempting to push the envelope a little more as a passer. After all, it gives him a better inventory on what his comfort level is before getting behind the wheel again when it counts again come game time.
“I'm trying to test myself," said Book of fitting the football into tighter windows or on deeper pass plays. "I'm working on that — I'm thinking it's making me a better player."
“He's certainly a lot more confident in pushing the ball down the field, and we knew that's something we had to be better at," Kelly said.
Sporting a new mustache, Book also has two other unique attributes at his position this season. One, he is the first “official” captain for Kelly at quarterback. DeShone Kizer was named one in December 2016 for the 2017 campaign, but a month later he opted to turn pro after his junior season.
Second, this is the first preseason under Kelly since his first in 2010 in which the quarterback position was not considered a relatively open competition. But even back then, Dayne Crist entered the year with zero career starts.
Then after a stellar season by Kizer in 2015 as a sophomore, Kelly declared the spot open in 2016 in fairness to Malik Zaire, who started the first two games in 2015 prior to a season ending injury.
Even though Brandon Wimbush started the opener for a second straight year in 2018, he was on shaky ground after faltering in the last four games of the 2017 season and Book then rallying the team to a 21-17 victory versus LSU in Wimbush’s place at the 2018 Citrus Bowl.
“I don't have a lot of familiarity [with an incumbent QB] during my time at Notre Dame,” Kelly said. “It's kind of a nice feeling.”
Book is the 11th quarterback to be named a captain at Notre Dame since 1942, when the Fighting Irish switched to the T-formation that defines the “modern” quarterback position. Chronologically, they were:
Frank Dancewicz (1945) —Under interim coach Hugh Devore, the future No. 1 overall pick in the NFL helped the Irish to a top-10 finish with a 7-2-1 mark. In 11 seasons under Frank Leahy, who was overseas in World War II in 1944-45, Notre Dame had four College Football Hall of Fame quarterbacks — but none ever as a captain
Tom Clements (1974) — In the last of head coach Ara Parseghian’s 11 seasons at Notre Dame, the senior co-captain broke the 29-year drought at the position after helping the Irish win the national title a year earlier. The 10-2 Irish team this year won the Orange Bowl over 11-0 Alabama.
Joe Montana (1978) — He began his senior year in 1977 on the third team, but after leading a dramatic comeback win in game 3 to propel a national title, he returned for a fifth season as a tri-captain. Notre Dame finished 9-3 and No. 7 in the AP poll versus the nation’s No. 1 schedule.
Blair Kiel (1983) — Fourth-year starter faced an awkward situation after a 1-2 start in which he was benched in favor of freshman Steve Beuerlein. Kiel did start and performed well in the Liberty Bowl win versus Boston College (19-18) for a 7-5 finish.
Tony Rice (1989) —Like Clements and Montana, he became a captain (one of three) after guiding a national title the year prior. He almost did it again, extending the school record winning streak to 23 games before the 12-1 Irish finished No. 2.
Rick Mirer (1992) — Co-captain as a senior saw Notre Dame finish 10-1-1 and No. 4, and he became the No. 2 overall pick in the 1993 NFL Draft.
Ron Powlus (1996-97) —Technically the first-two time captain at quarterback since Leonard Bahan in head coach Knute Rockne’s first two seasons in 1918-19. Bahan actually was listed as a left halfback in 1918, and the quarterback position was far different 100 years ago.
Powlus also did it with two different head coaches, first with Lou Holtz (1996) and then Bob Davie (1997), finishing 8-3 and 7-6, respectively.
Jarious Jackson (1999) — The third different quarterback captain in the 1990s, Jackson broke Joe Theismann’s single season school passing mark at the school set 29 years earlier, but the team stumbled to a 5-7 finish.
Jackson also is the lone quarterback since World War II ever to be Notre Dame's lone captain in a season.
Brady Quinn (2005-06) — Record-setting figure joined Powlus as the lone two-time captains at the position, steering a 19-6 mark during that time and finishing in the top 5 of the Heisman balloting both years.
Jimmy Clausen (2009) —Selected as a junior, Clausen set the single season pass efficiency mark at Notre Dame that had been held for 60 years before turning pro following the 6-6 campaign that saw head coach Charlie Weis ousted.
Note: Former starting quarterbacks Arnaz Battle and Carlyle Holiday were elected captains in 2002 and 2004, respectively, but that was after shifting to wide receiver, where they would also play in the NFL.