Blue and Gold Illustrated

February 2024

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

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Page 24 of 47

BLUEGOLDONLINE.COM FEBRUARY 2024 25 STEVE ANGELI AND JORDAN FAISON IGNITE NOTRE DAME RUNAWAY Notre Dame had a good problem to contend with when coaches and play- ers jumped up onto the stage for the postgame festivities at the Sun Bowl. Who the heck should win the Most Valuable Player award? On one side, you had sophomore quar- terback Steve Angeli making his first ca- reer start. He finished 15-of-19 passing for 232 yards with 3 touchdowns and 0 interceptions. On the other, there was freshman wide receiver Jordan Faison, who was responsible for a sizable segment of those statistics — 5 catches for 115 yards and 1 touchdown. There wasn't a wrong answer. Faison ultimately hoisted the hardware, and Angeli probably agreed with the media's selection. He downplayed his own per- formance and hyped up the efforts of his teammates in meeting with reporters. Everybody in blue and gold, Angeli most definitely included, got to hold an even bigger trophy with the sun setting in El Paso — the one awarded to the win- ner of the Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl. And there is no doubt about this, either; the Irish would have had a much tougher time getting to that point of celebration and jubilation without the duo of Angeli and Faison. The two heroes for Notre Dame in a bowl game victory, one that got the pro- gram to 10 wins, were a former walk-on who was originally on scholarship as a lacrosse player and a quarterback who has sat and waited for his turn for two full seasons. Who would have ever thought in Au- gust Notre Dame head coach Marcus Freeman would walk into a room and ask why Faison was sitting closer to the postgame press conference microphone than Angeli, only for Angeli to quip back with, "He's the MVP, Coach." Faison returned the favor of adoration for Angeli when it was his turn to speak. "Me and Steve have been working for a while, from camp to throughout practice to this week," Faison said. "It was pretty easy to come in having Steve at quarter- back; the ball is going to the spot it needs to be. So, just go make a play on it." Faison showed in the second half of the season that he can make plays on the ball when anyone is throwing it to him. He caught 3 touchdown passes from Sam Hartman. Angeli, though, had never thrown a pass in the first half of a college football game. He had only ever appeared in garbage time until the Sun Bowl matchup with the Beavers. His first pass of the game? A 55-yard dot to Faison down the right sideline. Notre Dame scored the first touchdown of the day for either side seven plays later on a well-timed, accurate 8-yard con- nection from Angeli to junior wide re- ceiver Jayden Thomas. Outside of just over a handful of mis- cues — two tough sacks to take, two delay of game penalties and two er- rant passes that should have been easy completions — Angeli looked the part of a season-long starter. He might not OREGON STATE GAME NOTES BY TYLER HORKA AND JACK SOBLE Faison, a freshman wide receiver, had 5 catches for 115 yards and a touchdown en route to MVP honors in the Sun Bowl. PHOTO BY MARCELL GORDON

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