John Heisler | October 1, 2018
Football coaches like to talk about the importance of their teams playing complementary football. In other words, the offense needs to complement the defense – and vice versa – and the special teams need to fit in there somewhere, too.
Irish football coach Brian Kelly didn't need to talk about that late Saturday night as the clock pushed toward midnight in Notre Dame Stadium. His team put all of that and more on full display in the impressive Irish win against seventh-rated Stanford in what was Notre Dame's first home-field win over a top-10 opponent in 14 years.
1. Brian Kelly knew something. There might have been a few raised eyebrows among Irish fans when Notre Dame opted for Ian Book over Brandon Wimbush after Wimbush played most of the way at quarterback in Notre Dame's opening three victories. No more. Book has been the real deal over the last two Saturdays – throwing the ball at a combined .731 clip (the Notre Dame single-season record is .680 by Jimmy Clausen in 2009), completing 49 of 67 throws for 603 yards, throwing for six touchdowns against zero interceptions and running 25 times for 90 yards and three more TDs. That's an off-the-chart 181.21 efficiency rating for 2018 (Clausen holds the season mark from that same 2009 campaign at 161.4). Those nine TDs Book has been responsible for are the most in consecutive starts for an Irish quarterback in at least two decades.
2. Dexter Williams will be a big help. Notre Dame is now averaging more than 200 rushing yards per game (actually 201.4 to rank 44th nationally). That number might improve based on what Williams displayed Saturday night on his way to a career-high 161 yards. With Jafar Armstrong still out with a leg infection and Tony Jones Jr. hampered by a sprained ankle against the Cardinal, Williams (with Avery Davis and whomever lines up at quarterback) helps give the Irish a stout running game. Don't underestimate what the injury loss of veteran guard and captain Alex Bars means, but Trevor Ruhland gives the line some quality experience.
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