Brian Kelly credits Clemson D for helping Ian Book take big leap in growth

Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Notre Dame quarterback Ian Book had a breakout campaign last season but suffered through pure misery in his final game against the Clemson Tigers.

Looking ahead to the coming season, however, Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly sees nothing but positives stemming from that learning experience.

Kelly appeared on the “Jim Rome Show” Monday and said that Book’s “biggest growth was probably this spring after the Clemson game, getting a pass rush from arguably one of the best defensive lines in a long time in college football.”

The formidable Tigers’ defensive front never gave Book a moment of peace in that game, and he had his worst performance of the season at the worst possible time as the Fighting Irish were downed 30-3 in the Cotton Bowl. In that game, Book completed just 17-of-34 attempts for 160 yards and an interception.

Overall, however, Book’s first season as Notre Dame’s starting quarterback was an overwhelming success. He gave the Fighting Irish’s offense a much-needed jolt in the passing game, finishing with 2,628 yards, 19 touchdowns and just seven interceptions.

If the experience against Clemson’s defense did serve as a launching pad for Book’s career as Kelly suggests, then the Irish should be dangerous once again in 2019.