Blue and Gold Illustrated

December 2022

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

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12 DECEMBER 2022 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED UNDER THE DOME Notre Dame head coach Marcus Freeman stuck with the mid-January time- line when discussing sophomore quarterback Tyler Buchner's full recovery from shoulder surgery when asked about it in late October. One month later, though, Freeman left the door open for an earlier return when he answered another question about it — perhaps in time for the Irish's bowl game. He made no promises. He didn't even get his hopes up. But the change in tenor from "out for the year" to "we'll see" was a twist. "That's still to be determined," Freeman said. "Right now, our docs are not 100 percent sure. It will be based on how he progresses over these next couple weeks." Buchner is participating in portions of practice and rehabbing during others. He is in a red non-contact jersey. He is two and a half months removed from injuring his left (non-throwing) shoulder in the fourth quarter of Notre Dame's 26-21 loss to Marshall Sept. 10. He suffered a severe sprain that required surgery. Freeman said then that the recovery would take around four months. The Irish are tracking toward a late-December bowl game, likely no earlier than the 28th. That would be about three and a half months from the injury date, meaning Buchner would have to be well ahead of schedule in his rehab. Freeman's change in outlook conveyed that's not impossible. Deciding how to incorporate Buchner in a game plan for a bowl will come after deciding whether it should. If Buchner is cleared in time and Notre Dame's coaching staff believes involving him in the bowl game is the right move for player and team, he will play in some capacity. "If it's what's best for him and he can be full-go, be able to be healthy and protect himself to prepare for a bowl game," Freeman said, "we'll have no hesitation to give him that opportunity." Buchner won the starting quarterback job over junior Drew Pyne in fall camp. He completed 28 of 50 (56.0 percent) throws for 356 yards with 0 touchdowns and 2 interceptions in two starts before suffering the injury. He also rushed for 62 yards and 2 touchdowns. Pyne has started every game in his place. — Patrick Engel As the 2022 Notre Dame regular season ended last week against USC, it didn't take long for the ex- citement and focus to shift to the start of 2023, especially given the strong performance in the second half of this year the Irish enjoyed under first-year head coach Marcus Freeman. In a collaborative effort between the On Location Experiences ticket and travel agency and the University of Notre Dame, travel packages are already available for the 2023 Fight- ing Irish season opener against Navy for the Aer Lingus College Football Classic Aug. 26, in Dublin, Ireland. This will be third game between Notre Dame and Navy played in Dub- lin. The two proud programs previ- ously met there in 1996 and 2012. On Location Experiences vice pres- ident of marketing Joe Wunderlick explained how his company has al- ready sold more than 4,000 travel packages to Notre Dame fans for the 2023 Dublin game. He added that he believes the game will eventually attract more than 35,000 visitors from the United States. "A lot of fans that went in 2012 want to go again," Wunderlick said. "Or, they didn't go in 2012 and have been kicking themselves for not, and they don't want to miss out on the opportunity again." Notre Dame and Navy were supposed to play in Dublin to open the 2020 season, but that game was wiped out by the pandemic. "There was similar strong interest and excitement from fans and travel- ers for the 2020 game, pre-pandemic," Wunderlick said. "But they had to cancel that game. So, this is kind of the remake. The fans are very excited to go again." In all, there have been seven American college football games played in Dublin, dating back to 1988. Northwestern and Nebraska opened their 2022 seasons at Aviva Stadium last August. The others were: Boston College vs. Army (1988); Pitt vs. Rutgers (1989); Penn State vs. Central Florida (2014); and Boston College vs. Georgia Tech (2016), along with the two previous Notre Dame vs. Navy meetings. "Obviously the Notre Dame and Navy relationship goes back so many years, and there is such a rich tradition at both schools," Wunderlick said. "That's what makes this such a terrific fit for this game. And Notre Dame's connection to Ireland also makes it an attractive destination for them." The U.S. to Dublin travel packages — which can be found at onlocationexp. com — can be customized by length of stay and individual vacation interests. Some packages provide guests the opportunity to include stops and stays at different Irish cities beyond Dublin, including Belfast, Kerry, Galway and others. Golf packages are available and there's even a travel package that's cen- tered on the popular HBO television series "Game of Thrones," that includes a tour of its production studio. Wunderlick explained that Aer Lingus flights will depart for Dublin out of airports throughout the United States. The direct flight from Chicago to Dublin takes seven hours. "That's not much longer than it would take to fly across the United States," Wunderlick said. "You're not losing a bunch of time traveling. You get to Dublin, and you hit the ground running once you arrive." — Todd D. Burlage ALREADY DREAMING OF 2023 IN DUBLIN TYLER BUCHNER'S AVAILABILITY FOR BOWL GAME 'STILL TO BE DETERMINED' The Fighting Irish and Midshipmen have previously met in Ireland in 1996 and 2012. PHOTO BY MICHAEL BENNETT

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