Blue and Gold Illustrated

Sept. 10, 2022*

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

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Page 26 of 55 SEPT. 10, 2022 27 TYLER BUCHNER SHOWS ENOUGH IN FIRST START TO BE OPTIMISTIC ABOUT HIS FUTURE If Tyler Buchner made a sudden movement to his right, he'd have run into trouble. This wasn't a specific play from No. 5 Notre Dame at No. 2 Ohio State. This was long before he looked good at times and like a 19-year-old sophomore making his first career collegiate start at others. This was when he ran onto the field for pre- game warm-ups an hour before kickoff. An ABC cameraman strutted stride for stride with the Notre Dame quar- terback no more than a couple feet away. Buchner seemed not to notice. It couldn't have been something he's used to. He didn't demand such attention last year, not even when he burst onto the scene as a true freshman with 336 rushing yards, 298 passing yards and six total touchdowns. Now he's Notre Dame's starter. Lights, camera, action. Life is different these days. Buchner's every move is scrutinized. The only way he was going to avoid detractors after his first career start was if he were to somehow outduel offseason Heisman Trophy favorite C.J. Stroud at Ohio Stadium. You can probably count on one hand how many quarterbacks in the country could even come close to doing so. Buchner isn't one of those. Not yet. But for a fleeting instance, it looked like he was. Buchner completed his first eight passes for 128 yards. He didn't throw an incom- plete pass until late in the second quarter. Head coach Marcus Freeman said he was "pleased" with Buchner. "He got hit a couple times and hurt his ankle a little bit, but he continued to be tough and run the ball and continued to try to throw the ball where he wanted to throw it," Freeman said. Four of the first eight completions went to safety valve extraordinaire Mi- chael Mayer. Another went to fellow junior tight end Kevin Bauman. The other three were to junior running back Chris Tyree, sophomore wide receiver Lorenzo Styles and graduate student wideout Matt Salerno. In one half of football, Buchner com- pleted two passes to wide receivers. That's something Freeman shouldn't be pleased with under any circumstance. It could be that it's more of a Notre Dame problem than a Buchner prob- lem. But it could also be that as much of a weapon Mayer is, Buchner needs to learn to get others involved. He said af- ter the game he has a good rapport with the receiving corps, but words don't mean more than statistics. The proof is in the numbers. Buchner missed on five consecu- tive attempts after the string of eight bull's-eyes to start. There was a wildly inaccurate pass intended for sophomore Jayden Thomas. He wasn't on the same page as graduate student Braden Lenzy on another misfire. There was an element of consistency absent from Buchner's game. But he also never turned the ball over. No in- terceptions, no fumbles. And that was with 11 rushing attempts and plenty of shots down the field, a few of which he completed. "Luckily I have a great support staff around me," Buchner said. "Awesome teammates who played really well to- night. Played really well. Having the confidence the guys are going to execute around me and do their job really helped." Even with Notre Dame's largely lack- luster offensive showing, the Irish had a chance to win into the fourth quarter because the defense was stout and Bu- chner never gave the game away. OHIO STATE GAME NOTES BY PATRICK ENGEL AND TYLER HORKA Notre Dame sophomore quarterback Tyler Buchner is 0-1 as Notre Dame's starter, but he showed some promise in an otherwise forgettable starting debut. PHOTO BY CHAD WEAVER

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