To almost no one’s surprise, Tyler Buchner, who was the “leader in the clubhouse” after last season has been announced as Notre Dame’s starting quarterback for the 2022 season. Buchner won the job after a seven practice preseason battle with Drew Pyne. “Tyler Buchner is our starting quarterback. Extremely difficult decision….Drew made it extremely difficult. Those guys both give us a chance to win….We just think that Tyler brings an element, obviously a dynamic element with his feet, the ability to extend plays, and have a QB running game,” said head coach Marcus Freeman to the media during the announcement.
Both Buchner and Pyne saw meaningful action backing up Jack Coan last season. Buchner finished the year 21-35 passing for 298 yards, 3 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. He carried the ball 46 times for 336 yards and 3 TDs. Pyne, who also played a few reps in 2020, has career numbers of 17-33 passing for 236 yards, 2 TDs and no interceptions. He has negative 2 yards rushing.
Other numbers attached to Bucher from High School really pop out at anyone who follows the game. Due to COVID Bucher’s senior season was canceled. But during his Junior year, here is his impressive stat line, 276-402 passing, good for 4,474 yards and 53 TDs against 5 INTs. Running the ball he gained 1610 yards on 128 carries and scored another 28 TDs. That’s right during his junior season in high school, Buchner accounted for 81 TDs in one season.
Offensive coordinator Tommy Rees chimed in on what went into the decision, “this process goes a lot further than just a week. We’ve been evaluating it for probably close to a year.” Ree’s also complimented the performance Pyne has put in in practice this preseason. “Drew has been the best Drew Pyne he has been since he’s been at Notre Dame, which is a huge credit to him.”
Buchner for his part was also complimentary towards Pyne. “I have an amazing friend and competitor in Drew Pyne. Every day he pushed me to get better, to spend more time in the building, watch film with him. We compete in every single thing in practice. He’s worked unbelievably hard and I couldn’t be happier to have him on the team.”
The assumption here is that the complimentary words toward Pyne are not just gratuitous. Pyne has in fact looked sharp in practice and plays the part of a Notre Dame man through and through. In a day and age when back-up quarterbacks are more likely to transfer than to stick around, you get the feeling that Pyne is staying at ND, he is in it to win it. Last Spring, in in interview he commented, “Notre Dame is such an unbelievable place because of the people that go here. I always tell everyone that I could be in a five hour car ride with any single person on the team and I’d have a great conversation. I’m very close with every single player on the team. It’s such an unbelievable place because of the people who are here.”
Pyne wears a bracelet that says “Make History”, the history he wants is what everyone wants, the difference is he can play a direct role in making it happen, “We can ‘make history’ here at Notre Dame, because if we win a National Championship it will be remembered forever…and I think this team is a team that can do it.”
The decision to go with Bucher over Pyne was undoubtedly made in large part because of Buchner’s running ability and signals the kind of offense Freeman and Rees plan to run. A running quarterback who can pass always makes a defense’s job tougher. Freeman knows that as well as anyone.
One thing almost seems for certain. Both Buchner and Pyne will play meaningful reps this year, rarely do you go through a season where the starter is healthy for every snap, or where a game situation at some point dictates a chance of pace. If that time comes, Pyne, the Notre Dame man seems to be ready to go.
Buchner who described his personality as “confident” at his first meeting with the media after the announcement, has his own Notre Dame bonifides,. Before moving to California he was born and raised for the first seven years of his life in the Chicago suburbs. “My whole street was a bunch of Notre Dame fans. There’s pictures of me wearing Notre Dame stuff as a kid.”
Now that kid is the starting quarterback at Notre Dame.