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Notre Dame Football

Notre Dame QB Room Takes Pride in Healthy Competition

August 6, 2022

Quarterback battles are always interesting as several layers tend to form during an intense competition for one starting role. 

Every program has seen a toxic situation where the quarterback room turns into an unhealthy environment and eventually trickles into the locker room causing unnecessary drama. 

Then you have the other side where Notre Dame offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Tommy Rees has created a healthy environment and intense competition. Notre Dame will have its third different starting quarterback in as many years, but if you’re looking for drama, you won’t find it in South Bend. 

Instead, you’ll find the Notre Dame quarterbacks competing as hard as anywhere in the country, but also prioritizing the team. 

"Why do we need to be arguing or having bad blood,” stated Pyne. “The main goal is to win a national championship and none of that is going to help. Us pushing each other to be the best we can be on the field is going to help us win games.

“Our team is so good and it'd be a shame if we were distracted by anything else other than helping our team win. Quarterback is an important position and we should do everything we possibly can to help us win." 

Rees has seen his fair share of quarterback battles at Notre Dame, but as a coach, he’s been pleased with how his quarterbacks have put the team above themselves regardless of the situation. 

"We've had Brandon (Wimbush) and Ian (Book), last year with the three of them and this year," explained Rees. "I'd love to sit up here and take credit, but those are great kids. They're very selfless and guys who are team first. They're friends on their own merit off the field.

"We've been fortunate to have the right kids in here that put others before them. The only thing we try to preach is we want to view our quarterback room as a unit. We talk about unit strength all the time, so we have shared success." 

In fact, the shared success is something the Red Army takes pride in as they want each other to do well. There isn’t a player secretly wishing for failure for other quarterbacks, which pleases Rees on a daily basis. 

"If Drew goes out there and makes a good play, Tyler is the first one next to him,” said Rees. “If Tyler goes out there and makes a nice play, you'll hear Drew from the sideline. All those things are important. That's more of a tribute to those guys and their character." 

Character is a trait Notre Dame recruits and it’s led to Buchner and Pyne having a friendship that will last well past their days in the blue and gold. 

"We're both really competitive and I think everyone in this building is competitive,” Buchner explained. “There's sort of two sides of our friendship. There's a side on the field where we're super competitive and we're also super supportive of each other. If Drew does well, the whole Red Army is happy because it's great for us. If he doesn't do well, then it's a bad day. We're a unit and we work together. We cheer for each other's successes and it's the same thing with the downfalls. 

"Off the field, we're really good friends. We go golfing together and do a lot of things together. We watch film together and all those things."

Pyne echoed Buchner’s statements and felt they pushed each other every day by focusing on what they can control to make the team better. 

"He and I are really good friends,” Pyne said. “We're best friends. We golf and talk about everything. We watch film together. Our girlfriends hang out. We're really close. 

"On the field, I think we both know we're two extremely hard competitors. He and I push each other to compete. It's a good thing because that makes both of us better. We push each other as hard as we can, but we maintain a good friendship.” 

The competition last fall featured as many as three quarterbacks, but Buchner feels the mindset of the quarterback room hasn’t changed with Jack Coan leaving the program. 

"There were three of us and now there are two of us now,” stated Buchner. “That's the biggest difference. It's more competition. Me and Drew compete every day and push each other to get better. We don't have Jack this year, but it's been just as fierce of a competition. We've both worked really hard and are pushing each other to be the best quarterback we can." 

On Saturday, Buchner and Pyne played rock, paper, scissors to see who would take the first reps during individual drills. Buchner won and Rees was pleased to see his guys wanting to compete even if it was over the smallest of details. 

"We just try to build in competition,” said Rees. “Competitive spirit is one of our pillars in The Golden Standard that Coach Freeman talks about. Every little situation we can have to compete - it's individual drills. Who really cares who goes first? We've built in little ways to have competition and have fun with it. We're just going to continue to find ways to implement it." 

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