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Hartman In, Buchner Out? Is the Battle Over?

By: Mike Stacey ⏐ Writer ⏐ Twitter: @MikeStaceyIT

Photo Credit: ON3


The much anticipated Spring game finally kicked off this past Saturday, April 22nd at Notre Dame Stadium. Although this game is an intramural scrimmage, it brings with it excitement and a first look at what the squad is going to look like for the upcoming season. Sure, you can't make a final prediction or assessment based off of one game, 5 months before the season kicks off, but it can still give you an idea of where things stand at the moment. Notre Dame has a lot of question marks going into this season with a new staff and key players from last year departing. How will the interior offensive line look? How will the defensive line hold up? How will the safety play be this year? Will the young receivers step up and play to their potential? What will the scheme/plays look like on an offense with new coaches and a new coordinator? But of all the questions surrounding this team, one of the most interesting for me is in the quarterback room. When Sam Hartman transferred to ND, it felt like a pretty clear indication that he would be the starter this year and Tyler Buchner would be the back-up. My biggest hope was that Buchner would not transfer after this move was made. However, not only did Buchner not abandon ship and gracefully accept Hartman into the QB room, he has also reportedly been very good this spring. Add to that Coach Freeman's statement that a starter has not been named and may not be any time soon, and we had some real intrigue going into this scrimmage. Or so I thought.....


Although the interest may have been high, the QB dual itself was a bit of a let down. Sam Hartman went 13 for 16 for 189 yards, 2 passing TD's and one rushing touchdown on a VERY impressive day. Hartman showed us a little bit of everything; his ability to throw the deep ball, his pin point accuracy, and his poise as he went through his progressions before finding the open man. Watching him play felt like watching a guy who had been playing on this team for years much less someone who just joined them this spring. You could not possibly ask for more from him on his first day in an Irish uniform. He looked like the seasoned veteran he is, and the man that Notre Dame fans were hoping to receive when his transfer was announced.


Photo Credit: Sports Illustrated


On the other side of the ball for the blue team was a different story. Buchner finished the game 8-18 for 44 yards and an interception at the end of his only drive where the offense was moving the ball. Buchner did not look like the guy we have been reading about so far this Spring. He was inaccurate, sailing some balls and throwing others short or behind receivers. He was also uncomfortable in the pocket and never got into any kind of rhythm. Buchner's performance was similar to some of the struggles we saw from him last year. However, In his defense, his offensive line did not do him ANY favors compared to the great protection that Sam Hartman had. This certainly was a factor and something that should be taken into consideration while evaluating Buchner's day. Also, with the red jersey on, Buchner was limited as a runner. As soon as someone got near him he was ruled down. This is something that greatly affected his best strength on the field, which is not only his ability to run but to break tackles. One positive I did take away from Buchner on the day was his post game interview. He didn't make excuses, he didn't seem defeated, he took it on the chin and had a positive attitude. This is vital for someone who is fighting for a starting job this year. This is the kind of attitude that can help him bounce back and continue to push Sam Hartman for QB1. Or, once again, so I thought....



Photo Credit: Sports Illustrated


At the end of the day, this was clearly Sam Hartman's moment. I mean the guy was a complete stud on the field. He operated the offense in a manner that we as ND fans have not seen from a quarterback in a long time. If this was an indication of what is to come then ND may have an explosive offense this upcoming season. Quarterback play of that caliber, coupled with our experienced/talented offensive line, our incredible running back stable, our young, but athletic WR core, and our constant Tight End excellence? Wow......And then add to that a very solid/capable back up in Buchner!....Or....So I thought....


Today, a move that I feared but currently did not expect, happened. Tyler Buchner announced on social media that he was entering the transfer portal.




At the time I started writing this article, I was planning on ending it with "don't count Buchner out just yet." Well, yeah, I guess that was premature. Although Buchner did mention in his post that him and Freeman were still open to him returning, I would certainly find that surprising. I am sure there will be a school out there willing to make someone with his athleticism and potential, a starter. (Perhaps Stanford?) At the very least, this will end any doubt (if there even was much out there) that Sam Hartman will be QB1 come this fall. And although I would love to see Buchner decide to return and give us a great back-up option, if he does choose another school, at least it ends any QB controversy/speculation moving forward. Notre Dame will have their starter, officially, and barring any surprising change of heart from Tyler Buchner his name will be Sam Hartman. GO IRISH!




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