Notre Dame Football Doesn’t Need a Transfer Portal QB Again This Year

Tyler Buchner has all the tools needed to be the next great Notre Dame quarterback as soon as next season.

Notre Dame had some success dipping into the transfer portal at quarterback last year by adding Jack Coan – although that take will certainly touch off a Twitter war if you tweet it with some in the fanbase. Heading into 2021, there was no experience on the roster at the position and a bridge quarterback made sense. Notre Dame is not in the same position heading into 2022, and despite reports yesterday that the Irish were pursuing USC transfer QB Kedon Slovis, there is no need for Notre Dame to tap that well two years in a row because of Tyler Buchner.

Tommy Rees somewhat shot down the Slovis chatter yesterday when asked. “We feel really good about the quarterbacks that are on our roster,” Rees said. It wasn’t a denial, but reports surfaced later on Monday that Pitt is the odds on favorite for Slovis. Rees and the Notre Dame staff should feel good about the quarterbacks on the roster, though.

One of Brian Kelly’s biggest weaknesses over his 12-year tenure at Notre Dame was his inexplicable ability to attract elite quarterbacks and develop them into stars. The closest Kelly came to ever producing a star-level quarterback in over a decade at Notre Dame was Ian Book, and Book was a low-rated recruit that was mainly recruited for depth at the time. That is what made Tyler Buchner’s commitment so big when he selected the Irish as a top-100 overall prospect.

Buchner showed Notre Dame fans immediately why there was so much hype for him even though he only played one full season of high school football due to injuries and COVID moving the California 2020 season into spring when Buchner was already on Notre Dame’s campus. He lit up the spring game and gave some hope that he could start in 2021. That was always a bit of a pipe dream given how little he played at the high school level, but it was a glimpse into the future.

The Notre Dame staff didn’t waste much time getting Buchner on the field for a set package. In week two, Buchner came off the bench and provided the Irish offense with the jolt it needed after a sluggish start. His first snap in college was a 26 yard run from his own four-yard line. Later that same game came his first career touchdown pass.

On the play, the threat of Buchner running got Chris Tyree wide open out of the backfield for an easy score. That is just part of what makes Buchner special and potentially a dangerous weapon for the Irish offense in 2022.

His running ability adds a dimension to the Notre Dame offense that it didn’t have at all with Jack Coan and had to a lesser extent with Ian Book. Here he is getting shot out of a cannon on a touchdown run against Stanford in the season finale.

The only knock that some have on Buchner right now is that his passing statistics weren’t amazing as a true freshman, but remember that the kid played one entire season of high school football. By the time he got to Notre Dame, he hadn’t taken a snap in a real game in almost two years. Nevertheless, he’s got plenty of arm talent and showed he doesn’t just have a cannon at times but can drop dimes down the field.

Yeah, he was up and down at times, but most true freshmen are – let alone ones who haven’t played much before college. Buchner’s final season of high school football was against a low level of competition, and he put up video game numbers. His senior campaign was supposed to be against the best in California, but he never played that season because he was an early enrollee.

Something else to consider when evaluating Buchner’s 2021 season is that every single time he was inserted into a game before the last two games, it was to provide a spark and make plays. That’s a ton of pressure on a true freshman. Against Toledo, Cincinnati, and Virginia Tech, Notre Dame turned to Buchner to jumpstart a stalled offense. That isn’t exactly setting up a true freshman quarterback for success, but even still, Buchner delivered most of the time.

Ian Book was the winningest quarterback in program history, but Buchner’s ceiling is considerably higher than Book’s. That is not to say Buchner will undoubtedly develop into the better quarterback, but with his raw talent, the sky is the limit for Buchner leading this offense.

It’s not ideal for Buchner to get his first career start on the road in Columbus next fall, and he still has to hold off Drew Pyne in spring and fall camps to win the position, but it would be an upset if he didn’t do just that.

A graduate transfer quarterback like Slovis could come in and have a good season. In fact, Slovis would be an upgrade, talent-wise, over Coan, but it’s time that Notre Dame develops its own star quarterback. Buchner has that potential between what he can do with his legs and his arm. Just like there will be some bumps in the road with a first-time head coach, there will be a few bumps with a first-time starting quarterback, but for this program to reach its ceiling, it needs a quarterback who has the potential to be special. Tyler Buchner has that potential, and we’ve already seen plenty of evidence to suggest that he will produce at an extremely high level.

It’s been 15 years since Notre Dame had a legit Heisman contender quarterback (Brady Quinn 2006). Tyler Buchner could be the first since then to be in the race for an entire season. It might not be next year as a sophomore, but he has that kind of potential. For him to reach it, Notre Dame needs to be all in on Buchner heading into 2022.

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26 Comments

  1. What about Drew Pyne? Was it just me or every time the kid played, seemed impressive to me. I wondered why he wasn’t in more than Buckner, who – IMO (not that you asked) – was terribly inconsistent – I don’t care about how much he played, etc, – why you puttin’ him in then? – no way I put him in over Drew. (but I’m not a coach). 🙂

    Thoughts on Pyne starting next season?

  2. So I just read on another site, that Freeman thinks Buchner has a great throwing motion. Proof is in the puddin’, hope you demonstrate that confidence on the 1st.

  3. Buchner would not walk, but Rees asked Angeli, prior to early signing, if he would walk if ND went the portal route for an interim QB. Angeli gave his blessing. Buchner-Angeli may be the future for ND, but it may be a repeat of 2020, 2 QB’s one very mobile the other the better passer.

    1. Where did you read/hear that about Rees asking for Angelli’s okay?
      Angelli wouldn’t be affected by a one-year transfer decision at all, and if the transfer was a 2nd year kid, Angelli would quite predictably be pissed.
      Unless Rees had a name to toss out into that conversation —??? — this doesn’t strike me as a remotely credible conversation.

  4. I think i recall Coach Royal frequently say “You Got to Dance with Them What Brung ya” That’s the way i feel about hanging with young Mr. Buchner.
    Go Irish

    1. That’s such an affirming sentiment!
      Too bad UHND fans complain of sore, bleeding feet before the band even gets to the first chorus.

  5. Yeah, I agree. We don’t need a transfer QB. I think there’s enough promise on the roster to stay in house. And you don’t want to lose Buchner or Pyne to a transfer themselves because ND does something stupid. It’s much easier nowadays to lose kids to transfers based on the new NCAA rules.

    And yeah. I’ve thought that about our former coach for years. We didn’t recruit 5 star QB’s but we had several QB’s with a lot of promise that sputtered out. I still remember when Golson came to town, he was the first that we were told was the perfect QB for the former coach’s ‘system’ and he was going to be a great QB. And there was a lot of promise in the beginning. At the abysmal NC game against Alabama, he was one of the few that seemed to be playing with any passion, that actually didn’t look like a deer in headlights. But he eventually sputtered out. Ditto for Zaire and later Wimbush. Book overachieved, but even he had a ceiling that prevented him from being an elite level QB. That’s no fault of his own and I do believe he pushed himself as far as possible. Not every QB can be elite. He and Rees were fighters. They gave it everything they had. Kizer was probably the 2nd best of the bunch, but I feel even he wasn’t utilized properly by the former coach.

    But I think we know the general theme under the former coach was that most of our QB’s regressed. It’s pretty telling when a number of them started off with a bang, with a lot of hope, and after a few games sputtered out. One or two, ok. That happens. But when it happens over and over again you have to question the coaching.

    1. “Regressed” is a sterile, academic word.
      Under Kelly, many of those kids’ confidence was plain shattered. Whether because they couldn’t understand his offense, weren’t able to make it work, or were just scared shitless of the public reaming they’d get coming off the field.

      It was Kelly’s job to make players better, and design an offense that worked.
      It was not to complain they weren’t good enough, and to continue to run an offense that didn’t.

      1. Well that’s one reason I think LSU did ND a big favor. I don’t think ND was ever going to fire the former coach. It didn’t help that most in the media and sports pundits felt he was a good coach and ND would be fools to fire him, like he was some elite level coach. Ok, in fairness, he’s not terrible. He’s better than Willingham or Weis, for whatever that’s worth. But he’s not elite.

        It’s sickening on the one hand that he’s going to get a big payout one way or another. But thankfully he’s someone else’s problem now. I hope Freeman pans out and turns out to be the next Saban like coach. ND did take a big risk on him, personally I think a worthwhile risk considering everything that was at stake. Only time will tell if it was the smart choice.

        I’d love for ND to win the Fiesta Bowl for many reasons, not the least of which is I’d love to show our former coach that he was indeed part of the problem.

  6. I’m happy with Buchner and Pyne…I think Buchner put the ball on the carpet more than I like, but he was a freshman, so that may not be a problem long term. It looks to me like we match up well against OSU in multiple places, so unless we lose the turnover battle, we should be in this NY6 Bowl all game long. GO Irish!
    BGC 77 82

  7. Sorry…it should have read “the three upstairs floors” (not rooms). Bat breath kills – get your shots kiddies…and let people who are really sick through no fault of our own have those rooms. Thank you!
    BGC 77 82

  8. Buchner needs to show he can make ALL the throws consistently and not just rolling out or chucking it deep. His pocket throws hitting guys out of their breaks were bad. He was late a lot. Fixable, maybe. But the coaches aren’t stupid. They see this too and why they looked at a pocket passer in Slovis. Pune even threw better from the pocket but he has no arm. Hopefully an entire offseason with the 1s will get Buchner ready. The potential is there for sure.

    1. Hey Chris, Freeman has been raving about Buchners ability to throw the football. Says he has grown a lot since beginning of season. Don’t know how much we will see of him in bowl game but I hope it’s more than one series where he runs once and hands off twice. Also looking forward to seeing Diggs, Tyree, and Estime get there touches in the bowl game.

      1. Pump the brakes, man. ‘Raving’?
        Freeman said Buchner “has a great throwing motion”.
        That’s not terribly high praise….throwing motion is a pretty low rung on the QB skill ladder.

  9. I am back out of the hospital (after spending 36 hours waiting in an ER room because all three real rooms upstairs were filled with sick antivaxxers)…five day stay overall.
    So I’ve been wondering what the over/under is for the number of losses Coach Freeman can take before you’all start filling his back with knife
    jabs? I figure three will do it. Surely you are the greatest fans in the world, at least in your own minds.

    BGC 77 82

    1. Cool story. Fun fact: at no time since March 2020 have hospital admissions across the country reached levels seen since 2019.

      1. fun fact: I put more stock in accounts from people who have experienced things firsthand than in an internet troll who studied online for her Bachelor of Smug degree.
        Let alone somoene who wants to be mayor of Trumpworld.

        WRT Freeman… (the football / non-Rhonda part):
        For me, he is not starting out with the measuring stick of W/L….that cut-and-dried scale is used on experienced head coaches.
        His job is to show distinct progress towards becoming an experienced coach. the sooner the better.
        His next job is to then make his experience more and more valuable and useful.
        Unlike Kelly.

  10. If you buy the hype, Buchner is NDs future at QB. I’m all in on the kid, so why even entertain bringing in Slovis or any other portal transfer? Pleased Rees shot down the possibility. You don’t convince a player is the future by tapping the transfer portal for another player at that postion.

  11. Buchner is gonna be a beast just watch…..way better than book talking Bryce young type of baller. Future is him and of the rest of QBs don’t like that kick rocks because that’s the cold hard truth. Don’t get me started on Kelly and development of football players. Balis is the developer of this squad never was Kelly. He was a jackass and I love Freeman so far. Video of him walking into locker room says it all. Hit them damn weights boys and destroy the cowboys so they know next year were coming for that natty………GO IRISH. Kevin Austin plz return bro we need you……and for those staying out of bowl game I understand, you don’t get the same goosebumps ND nation gets when that Irish woman sings before the game. What a shame…….”there’s a magic……”

  12. Buchner may turn out to be real good…or not. That’s just how it goes.
    But if ND can’t (or won’t) go back to developing its own recruited QBs, then in this “dog-outbid-dog” free-for-all for displaced, proven, experienced talent, ND is finished.

    Here’s one minor suggestion: When playing one of the several really bad oppoents on any schedule, instead of letting them hang around into the 4th qtr…..step on their throats, end it, and give the other kid some game reps.
    I hear they like that.

  13. “One of Brian Kelly’s biggest weaknesses over his 12-year tenure at Notre Dame was his inexplicable ability to attract elite quarterbacks and develop them into stars. ”

    “Inexplicable” only because you still don’t get it : Kelly is a fraud.
    He arrived to great fanfare as a QB whisperer, and a “high tempo, spread offense” genius.
    Well…..he drove off more QBs than he helped, and ND was notorious for endless delay of game penalties, or burning TOs to avoid them.

    ND only improved when he finally stepped away form coaching, and floated on the sidelines as a medicated JoPa.

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