Notre Dame head coach Marcus Freeman confirmed what everyone suspected from when they saw Tyler Buchner’s left arm hanging and freshman QB Steve Angelli supporting it on the sideline. The sophomore quarter suffered a shoulder injury that ended his season before it ever really started. Yet another cruel twist of fate for the extremely athletic quarterback whose young career has been marred by injuries.
Things did not start for Buchner as he or anyone could have hoped they would as the starting quarterback for the Fighting Irish. A valiant effort against Ohio State was followed up by a disappointing showing against Marshall capped by what turned out to be a game-sealing pick-6 for the Thundering Herd. Then another injury.
Buchner left the Marshall game in the fourth quarter after getting hit at the end of a scramble as he tried to get the Irish back in the game after the pick-6 that put the Irish down two scores the drive before. Before the hit, Buchner connected on just 18 of 32 passes for 201 yards without a touchdown and two interceptions. However, he did lead the Irish with 44 yards rushing, including his second rushing touchdown of the season.
Before ever enrolling at Notre Dame, Buchner’s prep career was highlighted by two major knee injuries. Once enrolled at Notre Dame last year, he suffered a minor injury early in the 2021 season and then another minor injury that forced him to miss the Blue & Gold game in the spring (though he would have reportedly played if that were a real game).
Now, this: a grade 5 AC sprain that comes with a 4-month recovery time frame. “He ended up getting a high grade – 5 out of 6 – AC sprain in his non-throwing shoulder,” Freeman said on Monday when addressing the media to talk about this weekend’s game with Cal. “He’ll end up having surgery tomorrow with Dr. Ratigan. The expected recovery time is about four months, so we can all do the math,” he added.
Because of all of the injuries, Buchner will now enter his junior season in 2022, having played very little football over three years since he lost his senior high school season because California moved their 2020 season to spring after Buchner was already enrolled at Notre Dame.
Forgetting the football perspective for a minute, this news is awful for Buchner on a human level. After all his injuries, he fought through them and won the starting quarterback spot at the University of Notre Dame, only to lose it, at least for now, after two games due to another injury. You can’t help but feel for the kid and cheer for him to make a full recovery and get right back out there to win the job again.
With Buchner out for the rest of the 2022 season, Notre Dame turns to junior Drew Pyne who Buchner beat out for the starting job this summer, with Angelli, a true freshman from New Jersey, waiting in the wings as the backup.
Buchner’s injury further muddies the waters of the quarterback position in 2023 and beyond. The hope from Notre Dame’s side was for Buchner to take the reigns and run with them this season and, at the very least, next. However, with Buchner missing ten games this season, he will have played in a total of 12 games over a three-season span – and four of those appearances were just mop-up duty in 2021.
Notre Dame missed out on 5-star quarterback Dante Moore after going all-in on him with no current likely quarterback for the class of 2023 though they are attempting to get back in on 4-star Avery Johnson and exploring other options. Notre Dame does have CJ Carr committed for the class of 2024, and there are reports that Notre Dame is trying to get Carr to reclassify for 2023.
Buchner’s latest injury, combined with a potential miss in recruiting, could force Notre Dame to dip into the transfer portal for a ‘23 quarterback, similar to how they did last year with Jack Coan. Short term, though, that’s the least of their concerns. The offense wasn’t humming along or even making much a murmur with Buchner. Now the Irish will have another quarterback making their starting debut on Saturday.