SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Eric Cavaliere has been watching Ian Book play football for over a decade, stretching back to when Book was 9 and Cavaliere was in attendance only because his daughter was a cheerleader.
Cavaliere says he has seen almost every game Book’s played since, be it live or on TV.
For all the prolific numbers Book posted while going on to star at quarterback for Cavaliere at Oak Ridge High School in El Dorado Hills, California, and for all that Book has already achieved over his first three outings this season as the full-time starter at Notre Dame, it’s a moment on the sideline during Book’s sophomore season that sticks out to his former coach.
“We’re late in the heat of this playoff game, this great comeback from 21 down at halftime, a game Ian took over,” Cavaliere recalled of a 45-42 overtime victory against Jesuit in 2013.
“Ian spots our athletic director, Steve White, who’s also his math teacher, and starts asking about the math test he took the day before, starts wondering how he did,” Cavaliere said of Book, an A-minus student. “Ian says something like, ‘Boy, question 14, that was a tough one,’ and his teacher is like, ‘Hey, focus on the game.’
“But that’s the thing about Ian,” Cavaliere said. “He had things under control. He’s cool and calm and is not going to let anything emotional overtake him. He can handle situations.”
While it remains a small sample size, Book has displayed similar traits for the fifth-ranked Fighting Irish (6-0), who host Pittsburgh (3-3) on Saturday.
Lightly recruited compared to the players Notre Dame typically lands, Book isn’t big by college quarterback standards, just 6-foot, 203 pounds. Nor is he fast or flashy.
He’s just effective, and the junior’s been working to be just that since he arrived in South Bend..
“I’ve been trying to prepare like I’m the starter since I’ve gotten here,” Book said after steering the Irish to a 45-23 road win last week at Virginia Tech.
“(I’ve thought) when it’s my time, it will make it that much better,” Book said. “It would really suck to not be ready if your name was called. It’s just something I focused on since the day I stepped on campus as a freshman.”
Book did not play as a freshman. As a sophomore, he started one game, at North Carolina because Brandon Wimbush was out due to injury, and helped the Irish win 33-10. In the Citrus Bowl, he came off the bench to rally Notre Dame to a 21-17 victory over LSU.
Wimbush, a senior, initially took the starting job back this season, but now Book appears entrenched.
In the opening three games with Wimbush — all at home and just one against a ranked opponent — the Irish averaged 23.3 points and 365 yards of offence. In Book’s three starts — two of them on the road and two against ranked opponents — Notre Dame has averaged 46.3 points and 518 yards of offence.
Overall, Book has completed 77 of 105 passes for …read more