Blue and Gold Illustrated


Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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6 PRESEASON 2022 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED D rew Pyne has never played better football in a Notre Dame uniform than he has of late. Offensive coordinator Tommy Rees said so on Aug. 13. And yet, 2022 is shaping up to be the same old song and dance for the junior quarterback. The Notre Dame coaching staff named sophomore Tyler Buchner the team's starter the same day Rees issued his statement on Pyne. Buchner battled Pyne in a quar- terback competition in the spring, summer and first week of fall camp. In the end, the former exhibited more potential than the latter. It trended that way all along. Like the 2001 song title from Daft Punk, Buchner is "Harder [to tackle], Better, Faster, Stronger." So just one week after literally pouring blood and sweat onto a table in the Irish Athletic Center while si- multaneously pouring his heart out to a few Notre Dame beat writers — only a few, because most of the con- tingent stood huddled around Bu- chner on the other end of the room — Pyne faces the same reality he has his whole Notre Dame career. He ' l l s ta n d o n t h e s i d e l i n e while someone else orchestrates the Irish offense. But as he stands there, he'll be fully engaged. He took the news hard. Any true competitor would have. But he's not oblivious to the ordeal. One player was going to win the job, and the other was going to lose it. He wasn't ever the favor- ite to be on the right side of that divide. See: Daft Punk. It is what it is. Head coach Marcus Freeman said Pyne ultimately got to a place where he was the "most excited for Tyler" of any Notre Dame player, though. Buchner called Pyne "an amazing friend and competi- tor." He seemed to really mean it. "It's a reflection of him and who he is," Freeman said of Pyne. "And it's a reflection of the quarterbacks room. Coach Rees has done an unbelievable job with that group. You talk about having healthy competition; those guys push each other and love each other. "They all want to be the starter, but only one guy can go out there." If anyone can fully process that last sentence, it's Pyne. He backed up Ian Book in 2020 and only attempted 3 passes in a 12-game season. He was third fiddle to Jack Coan and Bu- chner last season when he only appeared in two games. He attempted 30 passes and compiled 2 touchdown throws, one Conor McGregor-like strut during an unforget- table moment in the sun at Soldier Field in a win over Wisconsin and 0 interceptions. Pyne isn't the biggest or most athletic QB, but he's got enough moxie packed into his 5-11½, 198-pound frame to come off the bench and help Notre Dame win football games. He did it against Wisconsin, and he gave the Irish a fighter's chance against Cincinnati. There's still a better than decent shot this isn't the final chapter of Pyne's blue-and-gold story. A lot can happen on one play. In 12 games. "I can't think of, in my years of playing football and my years of coaching football, a time where you didn't have two quarterbacks play throughout the season some- how, someway," Freeman said. That "same old song and dance"? For anyone else in Pyne's position, the song might as well be "Hurt" by Johnny Cash. The dance? Well, maybe there wouldn't be any danc- ing at all. But Pyne isn't like the others. He wears a shiny shamrock around his neck every day because he loves Notre Dame. He wants to see it succeed. He wants to strut like McGregor when the time is right, and he wants to do it with a gold helmet on his head. If that equates to him being the Irish's backup quarterback, then so be it. " T h i s p rog ra m n e e d s D rew Pyne," Rees said. "There is zero doubt in my mind. I don't know when, how, why or where, but this program needs him right now, and this program is going to need him moving forward. "There are not 15 guys in this pro- gram who are more important to Notre Dame than Drew Pyne. I cannot give him enough credit for the way he's prepared, practiced and put himself in position to be the best version of himself he can be." The most recent edition of a Notre Dame quarterback competition reached a finish line. Pyne did not. "He needs to continue to lead and continue to be a guy that everyone counts on," Rees said. "He's going to be great in the room. He'll be very sup- portive of Tyler. And then, at the end of the day, he needs to be ready to play. "We've all been around this game long enough that you better have two that can help you win games, and that's how we feel right now." ✦ GOLDEN GAMUT TYLER HORKA Tyler Horka has been a writer for Blue & Gold Illustrated since July 2021. He can be reached at Pyne lost the offseason quarterback competition, but he still has to be ready to perform in 2022. PHOTO BY CHAD WEAVER Drew Pyne's Story Is Far From Finished

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