Redshirt freshman linebacker Jaylen Sneed led the gold team with 7 tackles, and his redshirt freshman counterpart Nolan Ziegler led the blue team with 10 tackles. Though the blue team did give up 24 points, the speedy youngsters on defense are starting to emerge.
On the offensive side, Head Coach Marcus Freeman addressed the ongoing quarterback battle.
When asked to put the quarterback competition in perspective, Freeman noted that it is still a battle. “No, I think we still have a quarterback battle. You can’t determine winning or losing based off one practice… practice 15,” he said. “There’s a lot that goes into a quarterback battle but also quarterback play – we’ve got some protection issues, we’re dropping balls – I’m always going to defend the quarterbacks.”
“Both of them [graduate transfer Sam Hartman and redshirt sophomore Tyler Buchner] are tremendously talented.”
Hartman impressed fans and his coach alike with his pinpoint passing, his 13-16, 189-yard, two-touchdown day that shredded the blue team’s defense. His longest pass was 46 yards, so he showed that he is more than capable of hitting the deep ball.
“I don’t want to downplay the performance that Sam Hartman put on either,” Freeman said. “He played really well. It’s good to see Sam play well in his first real game-like experience at Notre Dame Stadium.”
Buchner struggled a bit more, but, as Freeman noted, he didn’t receive much help from his offensive line or some receivers who dropped balls. On one play, he specifically didn’t receive helpful advice from his head coach.
“He’s consistently improved… I don’t know what the stats will say… protection, we didn’t protect that well on that side of the ball, with the blue team. We had some dropped balls,” Freeman said.
“I told him I gotta take responsibility for the pick (thrown to redshirt senior safety Xavier Watts). On third down, I told him it was cover 2, and it ended up not being cover 2.”
Freshman wide receiver Jaden Greathouse was all over the field, targeted by Hartman 13 times for 11 completed passes and 118 yards, with a long of 21. He also had 18 yards after catch, showing he has both the route-running and strength to be a difference-maker as a freshman.
“He stuck out. He played well. All three of those freshmen (receivers Greathouse, Rico Flores, and Braylon James) will play for us this year,” Freeman said.
“It’s good to see Jaden step up today… all three of them have been really, really good additions throughout the spring. That wasn’t just a one-time performance.”
The Irish are about four months from 2023’s first game, in Week 0 in Dublin, Ireland; they are a month and a half from summer workouts and fewer than three months from fall practice.
Freeman was asked what he noticed about his second year of spring ball and the difference from his first year. “Second year in the same system, same scheme, same coaches, a lot of the same players, they’re at a different level than they were last year,” he said.
“Last year, they were still trying to figure out what this [Defensive Coordinator] Al Golden scheme is and how to run it. Offensively you’ve just seen a great progression… from us naming Gerard Parker [Offensive Coordinator] to the new additions to the coaching staff to Sam Hartman. I’m most pleased with the offense with the progression from one to fifteen and with the defense with the ability to practice at a high level and be consistent throughout the spring.”
There’s still time to get better, but Freeman senses the urgency. Week 0 will be here before you know it.
“We’ve got to make sure we’re ready to perform at a high level on Week 1 – or Week 0, for that matter,” Freeman said.
Can the Irish make a leap in Freeman’s year two? Freeman knows the clock is ticking, and he’s asking his team to put in the work to become more consistent than they were last year.
Continuity (with the hire of Parker) and experienced players who have been in Freeman’s and Golden’s system, the development of the young guys Freeman has brought in, and consistency just may lead to the year two jump Freeman is looking for.
Why does the leading rusher leave after the Spring game? NIL?
The “four for forty” pitch is less effective than it once was, especially when stats can often be the determining factor as to whether you achieve your dream of the NFL, and the higher rated the recruit, the more they might want to be “the guy” at their position. Also, the higher rated recruit, the more attractive the portal can be. If you aren’t a starter or the main guy at your position (as is now Audric Estime), why not test the waters in the portal to see if others will give you the opportunity to feature you? IT would seem “legal” NIL can be maximized at ND as well as any other program. Rotating four or so at any position can serve a team well, but not so much the player sharing the spotlight.
Three quality players, all three year veterans, exited ND these last few days.
Prince Kollie was the Butkus award winner coming out of HS, Lo was a top 100 recruit, (some projected him as a better bet at CB), and Buchner was pegged to be the future ND QB when he was recruited. Either their development was inadequate by the staff, or the experts overrated them. None of the three were trusted by the staff to be the studs others thought they could be. The return of all the starting LBs, with the younger Frosh and Sophs flashing promising potential at LB, pushed Kollie to transfer. Understandable! With the decided depth chart probably filled with promising Frosh at WR and CB, Lo looks to other programs. And if Tyler is to fulfill what he believes to be his destiny, the NFL, he needs to start, so he can prove he belongs. Adding another ‘backup’ QB from the portal this year will send the message to Angeli to also move on. which would leave you with Minchey and Carr, if Carr holds to his commitment, and a very diluted QB room in ’24. So maintaining what’s left at QB is vital. Anything short of a playoff finish in ’23, and I suspect that is unlikely looking at safety and DL, and the Hartmann addition might prove to be not enough to make the playoffs this season, and costly come ’24. And I’m still not confident that Golden’s choices for LB are right, and I hope I’m wrong. When elite recruits reach year 3 and still aren’t starters, the transfer portal makes perfect sense. Barring key injuries by those above them on the depth chart, Lo, Prince, and Tyler are off to seek a chance elsewhere that they weren’t likely to be given in 2023.
Such is college football in the second decade of the 21st century.
Buchner reunited with Rees under Saban ? Stay tuned !
The “QB battle” was always a lie. Now it’s official.
Hartman looks like the best QB ND has seen since Brady Quinn. He should start and should lead ND to a 10-2 season.
Buckner played below average. However, O. line played poorly and w/ a red jersey, he was unable to exploit his running skills playing touch football. He was also victimized by receivers dropping easy balls.
Defense appears to be improved.
Buchner should be used as a change of pace QB this year which will often confuse defenses and probably result in some easy scores and help turnaround games when the offense has temporarily stalled.
Overall, the spring game was a net positive