Blue and Gold Illustrated

January 2023

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

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16 JANUARY 2023 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED BY TYLER HORKA M arcus Freeman had a chance to name a Gator Bowl starter Dec. 10. He didn't take the bait. Of course, Freeman was not obligated to tell reporters who Notre Dame's start- ing quarterback will be against South Carolina in the Gator Bowl Dec. 30. Col- lege head coaches have been coy about that subject for many years. Freeman's response actually might have been as genuine as non-answers get, too. "We haven't defined what exactly the quarterback situation will be," he said. For 10 games during the 2022 regular season, it was rigidly defined. Junior Drew Pyne was the starter and fresh- man Steve Angeli was the backup. That didn't change for two and a half months. The hierarchy shifted to that configu- ration when sophomore starter Tyler Buchner sustained a shoulder injury that required surgery in the 26-21 loss to Marshall Sept. 10. It was uprooted once more when Pyne announced his deci- sion to enter the transfer portal Dec. 2. He left with one game still to play, and even Freeman — who outwardly said he did not want Pyne to depart the pro- gram — could not blame him for that. College football is a business — for the coaches and the players. "I love Drew Pyne," Freeman said, "but part of that love for him was to say, 'We're possibly looking into the trans- fer portal to take a quarterback.' I could have not told him and lied and said, 'We're not going to take a quarterback' and wait until after the game and said, 'Hey, we're going to look for a quarter- back.' But that's not what we're built on. "We're built on real, authentic re- lationships and having those honest conversations. And Drew made the best decision for Drew." Freeman's upstanding honesty put him in a precarious short-term position with his quarterbacks. Angeli might get the first start of his college career. In it, he'd attempt his first pass at this level. He's played seven snaps this season. He handed the ball off on six of them and watched sophomore tight end Mitchell Evans score on a sneak on the other. If it's not Angeli it'll be Buchner, who started the first two games of the season for Notre Dame. He came down awk- wardly on his non-throwing shoulder in the waning minutes of the second of those starts. He has not taken a hit since that one. The next instance of full-con- tact he experiences will be at the hands of eager SEC defensive players who can assuredly pack more of a punch than the Thundering Herd player who crunched him several months ago. Welcome back, TB12. "You can't take a chance of your quar- terbacks getting hit in practice," Free- man said. "Not at this point in the sea- son. There wasn't one point I lived up BACK IN THE FOLD Quarterback Tyler Buchner returns to practice with a chance to start in the Gator Bowl Buchner started the first two games of the season for Notre Dame before suffering a shoulder injury Sept. 10 against Marshall. PHOTO BY CHAD WEAVER

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