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Notre Dame Football

Notre Dame Spring Ball Preview | Quarterback

February 8, 2022

No position on a team is more important than quarterback. Everyone is aware of this and it’s why there is no position on Notre Dame’s team that will have as much attention on it this spring.

When spring ball starts in just over a month from now, all eyes will be on the quarterback competition and most of the focus will be on Tyler Buchner. Most people would have put money on a redshirt for Buchner after not having a senior season in high school. The Notre Dame staff had other plans when they needed a spark to run the ball and he gave them that immediately when he played against Toledo in the second game of the season.

We know he can run. His 7.3 yards per carry was the top mark for a quarterback in the country and seventh overall for any position. He not only showed the ability to make plays with his legs, but also to make good decisions with RPO plays. There’s some exciting stuff that we saw from him as a true freshman where it’s not difficult to envision Tommy Rees building the offense around his skill set.

Greg Flammang and I broke that down deeper in a recent episode of Hit and Hustle.

Buchner has the potential to thrive as a dual-threat with plenty of RPOs to go along with that, but the key for him this spring will be to establish that he also can win from the pocket when needed. He showed flashes of that, specifically in a two-minute drill he executed against Virginia Tech, but he has much more to prove to show he can make the right read and deliver when needed when it’s 3rd and long.

He comes into the spring as the favorite to win the job based on how he was utilized last year, but the next few months are also an opportunity for Drew Pyne to make a statement.

His heroics in leading Notre Dame in the second half of the Wisconsin game along with giving the offense a spark against Cincinnati endeared him to Irish fans, but he didn’t see action the rest of the season. He doesn’t have a cannon for an arm and though he is a good athlete, he’s not nearly the runner Buchner is. His size alone wouldn’t allow for him to be as big a part of the running game like Buchner would be.

Based on all of that, I think it’s safe to say that Pyne has to be excellent in other ways in order to be Notre Dame’s starting quarterback. His accuracy and decision-making has to be elite, which means he needs to be great in the areas where Buchner hasn’t proven to be yet.

He’s a highly competitive player who won’t back down from the challenge and if he can make a lot of tight window throws like this, then he’ll be right in the thick of it.

No one has any expectation Steve Angeli is going to make a lot of noise this spring in terms of getting into the mix to start and all signs seem to point to him having a redshirt year to develop. In saying that, getting him on campus as an early enrollee is important because the depth chart at quarterback can get volatile in a hurry.

The main thing Notre Dame fans want to hear about Angeli in March and April is that he shows the promise that he can develop into a quality starter for the Irish at some point. That mostly means him flashing some of the physical traits that can translate to him succeeding at this level.

A good spring for him will be seeing overall improvement while flashing on some throws that gain everyone’s attention.

Who knows what to expect from Ron Powlus or how much we’ll even see of him outside of drill work, but the long term plan is for him to be a quality backup or an important practice player at the very least. This spring is the next step for him to become that and he should get some time in the Blue-Gold game as well where he can be evaluated.

Hopes are high for Buchner, but the position group as a whole needs to have a strong spring. If that doesn’t happen, Notre Dame may have to look for a solution in the transfer portal once the dust settles.

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