Thursday, October 21, 2021

Book’s Play Is Not a Pro-Fromm Edition, Despite Recent History

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Sometimes, you just see things and feel like you can’t help but comment. Case in point: The unlikely duel between Georgia’s Jake Fromm and Notre Dame’s Ian Book.

Not long ago, that would have been considered a mismatch.

But that wasn’t the case Saturday night, as Book led the Fighting Irish to a comeback victory over the Bulldogs.

Fromm, a junior who looked overwhelmed in Notre Dame’s two previous losses, stepped up and appeared to give the Bulldogs an early boost with a 16-yard touchdown pass to Mecole Hardman in the first quarter. But it wasn’t as simple as that. Fromm’s pass slipped through Hardman’s hands and bounced backwards, jarring it from his hand. The Irish defensive lineman Nathan Gerry recovered, then wrapped Hardman with a halfback dive for the easy pick.

The trick of the pick proved that Fromm, a prototypical pocket passer, wasn’t as comfortable in the pocket as he appeared to be on paper. Fromm managed to regain possession of the ball after the fumble but was intercepted by Notre Dame’s Cole Tracy.

The tide had clearly turned, and it only grew as Georgia marched back and forth across the field. Fromm continued to deliver accurate passes and accounted for 201 yards in the air. But it wasn’t his biggest play of the game.

Just before halftime, he delivered a bullet to Kendrick Foster, whose highlight-reel grab was met with chants of “Book! Book! Book!” in South Bend.

Running the offense with diligence, Book led Notre Dame on two long touchdown drives that locked up a 30-17 win. He finished 20 of 30 for 253 yards.

Book’s throw didn’t necessarily symbolize the Irish’s comeback or any sort of deja vu for Georgia. Book is no Fromm, just a great quarterback who played like one Saturday night.

And there were other big plays for Notre Dame. Tight end Nic Weishar hauled in a 22-yard pass from Book in the third quarter, and quarterback Brandon Wimbush added a 55-yard run later in the period that ended with a touchdown. Both from the Bulldogs’ defense.

All told, Wimbush’s 55-yard run represented the biggest of the game. It came on second-and-11 from Notre Dame’s 6-yard line, and created a sudden change of momentum in the game. It ended up being the decisive play.

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