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Notre Dame Football

Why Notre Dame Named Tyler Buchner QB1

August 13, 2022

Notre Dame has named its starting quarterback eight days into preseason camp. 

Sophomore Tyler Buchner will lead the Fighting Irish in 2022 after Marcus Freeman and Tommy Rees made the decision on Friday evening. 

Buchner appeared in 10 games as a true freshman last fall and flashed his dual-threat skillset as he completed 21-of-35 passes for 298 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions while adding 336 yards and three more scores on the ground. 

For Freeman, the first-year head coach was looking for three main qualities in his first starting quarterback. 

“No. 1 is are they making the correct decisions,” Freeman stated. “No. 2, you have to take care of the football. We can't turn the ball over and we have to take care of the football. No. 3, you have to make plays. Who is making plays? 

"There is a huge criteria I'm sure that Coach Rees has in terms of how he evaluates those guys. Those are the three things I really look for. We've been in constant dialogue about who was going to be the starter." 

Rees’ confidence in Buchner didn’t just come from the first week of preseason camp, but rather over the course of the last year. 

"We've been evaluating it for probably close to a year if you take a full body of work and the ability each quarterback has,” explained Rees. “We think for our team's best interest naming a starting quarterback is important not only for the team, but for that individual and the direction we're moving forward on offense." 

There is no denying Buchner has all the talent in the world, but there is much more to being a college starting quarterback much less the starter at Notre Dame. 

Leadership is a big piece to the puzzle and Buchner has taken significant steps since the spring in leading the entire program. 

"When you meet with the quarterbacks, he's an alpha male in that room,” Freeman said. “He's a confident guy. He knows the answers. You can tell if someone doesn't know the answer, he's the first one to answer it. 

"I think he's still getting comfortable being a vocal leader amongst his teammates. We have to remember he's a second-year guy surrounded by some seniors up front and surrounded by some guys who have done it. It's not the easiest thing to do to be that vocal alpha male, but you can see him every day stepping outside his comfort zone. No matter if you're encouraging, you're holding guys accountable, there's many different ways to be a leader. I see him challenging himself to be more of a vocal leader and that's all we ask of him." 

Perhaps the sign of a true leader was Buchner making sure he gave appreciation and credit to quarterback Drew Pyne to start his press conference on Saturday. 

"I think this whole thing has been about growth and learning and getting better every single day,” stated Buchner. “Luckily throughout this whole time, I've had an amazing friend and competitor in Drew Pyne. Every single day he pushes me to get better. He pushes me to spend more time in the building, watch film with him and we compete every single day in practice. 

"He's worked unbelievably hard. I couldn't be happier to have him on this team."

Confidence is another trait Freeman and Rees were looking Buchner to exhibit since January. The 6-foot-1, 215-pounder left no doubt. 

"I believe he's ready,” Freeman explained. “We wouldn't have named him the starting quarterback. It's really for the confidence for our offense in terms of they are going to have consistency over the next three weeks knowing who is going to be the starting quarterback and not rotating those guys." 

If Buchner wasn’t completely comfortable with his confidence and leadership in the locker room, Saturday’s announcement could provide just the momentum needed as the Irish will take on Ohio State in 21 days. 

"The word we've preached all camp is confidence,” stated Rees. “I think Tyler is finding his stride right now, so we're going to continue to have an extremely confident and calm quarterback. 

"I think we just continue to build towards consistency and leadership. Those are the traits we want to have come out in him. I think part of this decision is to allow him to have that platform to really not be apprehensive about every play and decision. It allows him the freedom to go out and operate knowing this team has his back."

Yet, if you talk to most around the program, Buchner has never lacked confidence and Notre Dame could be a few big plays away from having something special. 

"I think the goal for my personality is to have the utmost confidence in myself, in my teammates and this whole program,” said Buchner. “Having confidence comes from execution and so as long as I continue to execute and continue to stack good days, the confidence can only go up." 

And yes, Ohio State is three weeks away, but Rees is confident Buchner will be ready for a wild atmosphere on the Olentangy. 

Why is Rees so confident? Buchner has done it before. 

"I'll be there for Tyler every step of the way,” Rees explained. “You have to remember he played three quarters in Blacksburg. That's a hard place to play. He operated at a high level. If he had zero experience going into this, then you try to create all these different environments and opportunities to learn. I think the way he handled himself in critical moments last season provides us with some ability to see how he reacts in those situations. 

"He played in four-minute against North Carolina when we needed a drive and he went in there on a second down play and converted to Mike. He was in there at the end of the game against USC to close it out in the goal line situation. He was in there for Virginia Tech. He made big plays against Toledo when we needed him. 

"This isn't a guy who hasn't played. This isn't a guy who hasn't played in big moments. A lot of confidence we have as a staff started last year and continued to build in the last nine months." 

The Buckeyes are coming quickly and Buchner will be ready, but he’ll need a couple more hours to process the fact he’s the starting quarterback at Notre Dame. 

"I don't know if it's completely hit me yet,” said Buchner. “It's a blessing and I'm really thankful and blessed to be in this position. My teammates have been awesome in supporting me and the coaching staff for believing in me. It's a pretty surreal feeling."

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