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Notre Dame Football

Notre Dame QB Update: Tyler Buchner Smooth, Steve Angeli Confident

December 12, 2022

All eyes are on the quarterback position regardless of what school one follows, but at Notre Dame, it’s always under the microscope. 

As Notre Dame prepares for the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl, the focus is essentially all on the quarterback position as Drew Pyne is in the Transfer Portal, which leaves Tyler Buchner and Steve Angeli competing for reps over the next three weeks. 

Buchner entered the season as the clear-cut starter, but was then sidelined with a shoulder injury he suffered in week two. The Irish have practiced four times this month and the focus has simply been getting the sophomore quarterback back into a flow with his offense. 

“Tyler's practiced the majority of all the practices,” stated Freeman. “We'll really sit down probably next week, and just say, hey, what's the plan as we really start focusing on South Carolina, but right now, I want all those guys getting reps and rolling. 

"Tyler hasn't played football for a long time and so just getting him in there with a bunch of different groups of receivers and o-linemen and let him get acclimated, but he's looked good. He's done a good job in practice. Steve has done a pretty good job too." 

Perhaps one of the more interesting decisions came by having Buchner sit in the box with offensive coordinator Tommy Rees during games. Buchner was charting various things for the staff, but it provided him a birdseye view of how plays develop in real time. 

“I think there's like a really good grasp of the totality of what we're trying to do offensively,” explained Rees. “I attribute some of that to him staying engaged throughout this whole 10-12 week process. I think him being up with us helped some of those things with how he sees the game, the vantage point of it. You're always eager to see, OK, how does he play in the pocket? What's the command? Is there a rust? 

“I thought today was really one of his strongest practices he's had in a couple of years here. He was really sharp today. He's been smooth. There hasn't been a ton of issues, in terms of what we're asking him to do. I'm proud of the way he stayed engaged and was able to kind of hit the ground running a little bit.”

Notre Dame hasn’t hidden the fact its in the market for a transfer quarterback and it makes the game important as it will give a chance for Buchner to get more reps. The sample size of what Buchner can provide the offense hasn’t been much, especially when you consider he was simply getting adjusted to running the offense when the injury happened. 

Sure, Buchner didn’t light the world on fire, but neither did those around him over the first two games. Rees knows this and is looking forward to seeing what Buchner can do with an offensive line that has come together and a run game that doesn't rely on the quarterback. 

“When you're able to run the ball and play with a really good front, it takes a lot of pressure off the quarterback in terms of you know there's plays you can hand it off, get six to eight yards and it gets you in a really good spot,” Rees said. “Early in the season, we were asking him to create some of that stuff. 

“He's made some throws from the pocket last couple days that were really impressive, but just it's more about his ability to say, I'm gonna stay in here, maybe slightly move, and keep my eyes downfield, which, there's some there's some big-time plays. There's some rust we got to get off and some of the timing stuff with motions and communication issues. But we'll continue to see how he progresses and see where he is in a week or so.”

As it relates to Angeli, Rees spoke highly of the freshman quarterback and it start with the confidence the New Jersey native plays with each day. 

“He’s got a little bit of quiet swagger to him,” stated Rees. “A confidence with which he plays. He’s pretty natural with movements and how the ball comes out of his hand. He’s innately accurate. For Steve to be up with us all the last 12 weeks that’s critical for his development moving forward. Look, he probably would’ve been on scout team all year if that hadn’t happened. He had to be in every game plan meeting. He had to be on the field, take reps for looks that he doesn’t even know. Learn from making mistakes, from making good plays. I think the ability to learn for him this year is so critical for his movement forward. 

“The skill set is natural. It’s easy, it’s smooth. But the personality of the kid: there’s some confidence there that when he steps on the field he knows he can go make some plays and make some throws. When he gets rolling I think he’s going to be a good player for us.”

And when it comes to getting Buchner acclimated to contact again, Freeman was adamant that his quarterbacks wouldn’t get hit as it’s an unnecessary risk to take. 

“You can't take a chance of your quarterbacks getting hit in practice - not at this point in the season,” said Freeman. “There wasn't one point I lived up the quarterbacks in fall camp. You just can't take that chance of getting our quarterbacks hit and hurt in practice. 

"I know he hasn't taken live reps, but you get bumped enough. They're in a red jersey and sometimes they run that ball, or those defensive linemen might get yelled at for touching the quarterback, but you're going to get bumped enough. We're not going to live them up. There's no way." 

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